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August 11, 2021

Eytan Shander: Please be patient with Eagles, no matter how they look in preseason opener

Good or bad, fans should remember that a few plays in August don't mean a ton in the grand scheme of things

Opinion Eagles
Jalen_Hurts_Eagles_Rams_NFL_Kate_Frese_092020 Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eagles backup quarterback Jalen Hurts.

The reports have not been great.

To be fair, it’s not like we are hearing “horrible” or “lost” when people describe what they've seen from Jalen Hurts at camp. It would be fantastic if the reports were glowing, like Sam Bradford heading into that perfect night in the preseason, but this should really come as no surprise.

The team is brand spanking new and is set on moving in a new direction. We have two major responsibilities because of this. The first is trying to figure out just how up-and-down Hurts’ level of play is at camp, the latter is to not read too much into that — or his performance in Thursday night's preseason opener.

Again, not many – if any? – are saying he’s been bad or even below average. But this is about a new coach and his offense. Why would anyone expect a guy who hasn’t had more than a half of a season in the NFL to walk in and pick up a new offense without a hitch? More importantly, how could anyone do that?

I don’t care if Hurts is tripping over his own feet and throwing the ball out of bounds, this game will not be a representation of who he is, both good and bad. It’s not a representation of anything, really. It’s just the first preseason game for a team with way too many components to get it right Thursday.

Do you not remember Sam Bradford's magical night in Green Bay? Or how that worked out for everybody in the months that followed?

The problem is that you can’t help yourself. Even if you vividly remember the false hope that preseason perfection inspired, it doesn't matter. You’ll once again be wrapped up in being a prisoner of the moment, helped along by your friendly radio host needing to kill four hours on the weekend. It’s sad but unavoidable at this point.

And, unfortunately, there will be so many minds made up about this team following a series or quarter or game, and that is just patently absurd.

No, seriously, you are an idiot if you can’t comprehend all of the new and moving pieces with this team, if you can’t simply wait another month or two and then re-assess. Stop acting like my seven-week old baby who can’t wait another second for his bottle to heat up before nearly choking on his tears.

I’ll say this as a warning for anyone looking to “Bradford” a great series or two from Hurts: Don’t do it. The NFL preseason is great for betting – yes, it is and don’t listen to the Trey Wingos of the world telling you otherwise. (For what it's worth, the Eagles are one-point favorites against the Steelers, according to Pickswise.) 

But a new regime's first season — let alone their first game of their first preseason — serves to help coaches and players get accustomed to their team’s game plans, executing plays and one another. But let’s be honest, that's the worst possible thing for the fan, especially with there being so much coverage of the game and us as a society being so hyper-focused on winners and losers that we can't make sense of what's happening in between.

Look, I don’t entirely blame you, which is why I’ve nearly given up on trying to change you. This isn't all your fault. It's a combination of the NFL being a year-round league in terms of it dominating the headline, the team in Philadelphia being EVERYTHING to us, and this incessant need we have as humans to need to react to every single moment like it’s our last.

Hopefully this reads as a warning and reminder that the preseason is not for us. Unless you want to talk about some sharp plays this preseason, then just sit back and use these games for what they are intended — falling asleep to background noise.

Go “Regular Season” Birds!

Grading the Week

The Phillies went on a tear and were brought back to reality by the Dodgers (and Mother Nature). I still stand by my earlier statements of what the team should have done at the deadline, but I will admit one key oversight of mine. The city of Philadelphia is simply better off with a winning baseball team. I can’t deny that as a 20-year veteran of this amazing city and its surrounding areas. We are a football town but have baseball hearts. As loud and belligerent as the Linc gets – and outside of the Super Bowl parade — I’ve never experienced the feel of fandom like that sellout streak the Phillies enjoyed. IF – which I do not believe to be the case – the front office made those moves to go on this hollow run to simply reward some fans, then OK. I’m here for the ride, to the point where I won’t spoil the ending. A+

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Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

You can listen to Eytan on The Middle w/ Brooks, Mayes and Eytan (Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-1 p.m.) and on @foxphlgambler (Mon.-Weds., 6-8 p.m.)

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