Sun, 04 Dec 2022

Ella on the Scene: In Hurts we trust

Philadelphia Eagles
24 Sep 2022, 19:12 GMT+10

Gabriella DiGiovanni

It's a quick turnaround from prime time to the grind with the Commanders on deck. I'll take you inside the locker room and around the NovaCare Complex as the Birds put their Monday night success to bed and prepare for Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders.

IN HURTS WE TRUST

In Week 1, Eagles players rushed to their quarterback's defense when Lions safety Tracy Walker was charged with an unnecessary roughness penalty, following a late hit on Jalen Hurts. In Week 2, we witnessed the respect Hurts has earned in Philadelphia in front of a wild crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. As defensive end Brandon Graham told me a few weeks ago, "that's the main guy that's gonna make us go."

Just how much does this team rally around Hurts?

"This team is behind him, this organization is behind him; I got the grasp of that as soon as I got here," Brown reflected. "There's an expectation, and there's a standard, and he lives by it."

Wide receiver Zach Pascal spent four seasons in Indianapolis before making his way to Philadelphia this past offseason. He played with a handful of quarterbacks and commented on what makes Hurts special.

"Jalen is athletic as hell. And he's very smart, he has great pocket awareness and he can make plays with his legs. He can make plays in multiple ways."

On the football field, Hurts is the highest-graded passer through two weeks and ranks second in total yards behind former Alabama teammate and Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

PLAYING BETTER TOGETHER

Following the opening weekend victory over the Lions, coaches and players listed many areas where they believed the team needed to improve. When I spoke with players this week, there was a sense that execution took a big jump in Week 2.

"I definitely think Week 1, everybody was just trying to settle down," Brown said. "The second week, I think we came out, we had a mission, we executed the mission. We played well on both sides of the ball and on special teams. That was huge."

Tackling was a focal point for the defense heading into Minnesota. Cornerback Darius Slay said without much playing time in the preseason, there was some rust to knock off and he was happy with Monday night's performance: "We were just playing more together."

On the other side of the ball, center Jason Kelce looks to one particular part of the game that vastly improved across the offensive line.

"We did a much better job this week communicating the different blocking assignments, what plays are up, a lot of things that were uncharacteristic mistakes as an offense, but particularly by me - I think we've cleared a lot of that up," Kelce said.

DALLAS GOEDERT TAKES HIS GAME TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Tight end Dallas Goedert was the Birds' leading receiver last week against Minnesota. He recorded five receptions for 82 yards and ranks first among all NFL tight ends in yards per catch, and third in receiving yards.

Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen said this week how "tremendous" Goedert has been. The fifth-year veteran knows he's made a significant leap over the past year.

"Having Shane and Coach Sirianni, who are both real big into the wide receiver stuff - watching more clips, listening to them, sticking off different feet, doing stuff at the top of the routes, I feel like I've definitely improved that way," Goedert said.

The offense was creative and multiple on Monday as Hurts completed passes to eight different receivers. Goedert, a veteran among the receiving corps, says Hurts' options make the game fun. As for the role he's assumed as a leader, Goedert says it's about leading by example.

"I'm not one to give the rah-rah speeches or anything, but hopefully if anyone is watching, trying to learn from me, I can show them that hard work pays off."

A VIRTUAL VISIT

On Tuesday afternoon following the big win, left tackle Jordan Mailata and tight end Jack Stoll virtually visited patients at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Mailata shared that he woke up Tuesday morning not thrilled about his on-field performance the night before. He said he's hard on himself, but he felt quickly humbled and reminded that sometimes it's just a game - these kids perhaps needed these smiles more than anything.

"It's kind of a breath of fresh air when I get to come in here and talk to kids who are really going through it and to give them also a chance for fresh air as well," Mailata reflected. "I needed this, and I hope they needed it."

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