August 23, 2023
Over the course of 15 open practices, the PhillyVoice staff charted every snap taken by Jalen Hurts with the first team offense in either 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills.
The Eagles' preseason game Thursday night will feature mostly players no one has ever heard of and no one will ever see play in a meaningful NFL game. The real action took place on the practice fields at the NoveCare Complex.
So what can we learn from the 396 plays the first team offense ran in front of the media?
If you're curious, we posted an article after every practice but we've compiled all our math right here. Here are some of our biggest observations.
• Jalen Hurts completed 150 of 215 passes, good for a 69.8% completion rate. Last year he was at a 66.5% regular season clip. We had him down for 18 touchdowns to just three interceptions. This can easily be explained by the lack of an actual pass rush. Hurts did not face real pressure behind the offensive line which could have caused more errant throws.
• Hurts was sacked, unofficially, 24 times which seems like a lot. Credit the coverage teams for these sacks and some good moves by the talented D-line. He was also sacked more than a few times by the Browns and Colts during their joint practice visits. Denzel Ward (from Cleveland), and Darius Slay (twice) are the only players to pick off Hurts.
• The run game is sure to feature Hurts prominently again in 2023. Hurts kept the ball and ran it 49 times, in contrast to 69 runs by the running backs combined. That's 42%. Hurts' 165 carries last season compiled 30% of the Eagles running plays.
• Speaking of the running backs, there has been much interest and debate as to how the Eagles will divvy up snaps and touches amongst the four running backs expected to make the 53-man roster. While we did not chart the snap counts, we do have a very interesting counting of their touches, runs and catches:
This is a very strong endorsement for making sure Kenny Gainwell is on your fantasy radar.
• Last year, the touches in the training camp backfield broke down with Miles Sanders getting 36 (53%), and Gainwell and Boston Scott (24%) getting 16 each. During the regular season in 2022, Sanders got 67% of running back touches.
Gainwell got roughly 44% of touches in camp, which could suggest he'll lead the backfield during the regular season.
• It's also worth mentioning that Eagles running backs had 48 total catches (on 61 targets) for all of the 2022 season. This 12.1% target share was the lowest of any NFL team's running backs. Will Hurts target the running backs more this season, after he did 39 times this summer?
• The target-share for the running backs is anyone's guess. For the receivers, it was exactly as expected. Here's how things shook out for the pass catchers in training camp:
Hurts threw to receivers and tight ends 174 times in training camp. Exactly 148 of those passes went to A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. That's 85%, which is kind of ridiculous.
During the 2022 regular season Brown had a 28% target share and Smith was at 27%. Goedert missed five games but still commanded 13% of Hurts' throws.
• The biggest takeaways for fantasy football research purposes is that a funnel offense will see the Eagles generate three pass catchers worth taking in the first 10 rounds, and that Gainwell could be a sleeper. If Gainwell and Swift get targets in the run game they could each be fairly fantasy relevant this fall.
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