Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Jalen Hurts, sprained his throwing shoulder in a Week 15 victory against the Chicago Bears. The injury caused Hurts to miss both Week 16 and Week 17 games before returning for a must-win game in Week 18. Since his return, the Eagles are 3-0 but to what extent is the injured shoulder affecting his play?
Using first half stats and removing short-yardage situations, the Eagles have not significantly altered Hurts’s rushing workload. Although the workload is similar, the rushing efficiency has significantly dropped as yards per carry, yards before contact, and after contact have all drastically dropped since returning from injury.
As the Eagles continue to use Hurts as a rusher, it is a possibility that the decreased efficiency is not directly a result of the injury but more Hurts running with hesitancy in an attempt to protect himself. As noted earlier in the week by Ryan McCrystal, the Chiefs allow 16% more rushing yards than expected to opposing quarterbacks which should provide ample opportunity for Hurts to improve on his rushing success over the past couple of games.
1st Half (excludes short-yardage) Attempts yd/rush YBCt/rush YPCt/rush Pre-injury 4.29 7.38 4.65 2.73 Post-injury 4.69 2.5 1.71 0.79
According to RBDSM, Hurts has had a significant drop in completion rate over expectation (CPOE) comparing a pre-injury +3.3 CPOE and a post-injury -3.0 CPOE. This coincides with an increase in inaccuracy shown below as Hurts has had an increase in passes not completed because of an inaccurate pass.
The Eagles have navigated a path to success using shorter passes as Hurts has attempted far fewer passes over 10 air yards and more passes behind the line of scrimmage in the last three games. Prior to the injury, Hurts had equal success targeting both sides of the field, but since his return, his ability to pass to the right side has relied on shorter quicker throws. On throws to the right side of the field, his average time to throw has dropped from 2.64 seconds to 2.04 seconds with a drop of nearly 50% on average air yards.
EPA/DB Succ Rate Comp % Innaccuracy AY/Att Neg AY AttAY10+ All Lt Rt All Lt Rt All Lt Rt All Lt Rt All Lt Rt All Lt Rt All Lt Rt Full Game Pre-injury 0.11 0.29 0.27 47.6% 52.9% 52.0% 67.3% 73.8% 72.3% 8.70% 10.50% 8.70% 8.22 8.77 8.69 22.6% 17.8% 22.0% 32.2% 35.6% 30.6% Post-injury -0.04 0.35 -0.23 39.0% 50.0% 40.0% 60.7% 76.2% 50.0% 15.50% 14.30% 23.30% 7.45 7.29 9.47 28.6% 21.4% 30.0% 23.8% 21.4% 33.3% 1st Half Pre-injury 0.23 0.28 0.47 48.6% 51.5% 53.2% 10.2% 72.0% 69.7% 10.20% 12.10% 10.10% 8.94 8.98 10.38 19.3% 15.9% 18.3% 36.0% 37.1% 38.5% Post-injury 0.11 0.4 0.24 41.9% 51.9% 55.0% 14.8% 77.8% 65.0% 14.80% 14.80% 20.00% 6.2 7.44 5.55 31.5% 25.9% 35.0% 20.4% 22.2% 20.0% 2nd Half Pre-injury -0.11 0.32 -0.08 45.9% 55.9% 50.0% 6.0% 78.0% 76.6% 6.00% 6.80% 6.30% 6.91 8.3 5.83 28.7% 22.0% 28.1% 25.3% 32.2% 17.2% Post-injury -0.33 0.27 -1.18 34.1% 46.7% 10.0% 16.7% 73.3% 20.0% 16.70% 13.30% 30.00% 9.7 7 17.3 23.3% 13.3% 20.0% 30.0% 20.0% 60.0%
The Eagles are an analytically driven organization, and it should not be surprising that with large second half leads in the past two games the Eagles have used third-and-long situations as deep passes in an attempt to increase Hurts’s average air yards. The only throws to the right side of the field in the second half against the 49ers were third down passes which were thrown 28 and 33 air yards. In dealing with such a short sample this could be an anomaly, however, the Eagles have been throwing shorter passes in the first half of games.
In the past three games, both A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith have accumulated more than 80% of their receiving yardage on passes thrown to the left despite both receivers having less than 65% of receptions to the left side of the field. Dallas Goedert continues to receive short passes as his average depth of target is 4.0 yards.
Smith and Brown have lined up on the left side of the field more than double that of the next receiver over the past three weeks, which is a trend that is likely to continue against the Chiefs.
This is significant in a game with so many prop options, as the targets are likely to be consolidated between three players. The trio has accounted for 82.3% of the Eagles’ receptions and 86.5% of the receiving yards over the past three games. According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, the Chiefs are better against passes to the left including top 10 against short passes to the left.
Hurts is healthy enough to play well and win a Super Bowl this week, but it does appear that his injury is hampering his ability to use the right side of the field as effectively. As indicated, his accuracy has dropped, but the Eagles have used a shorter equally efficient passing game as a workaround. His rushing efficiency has dipped but there appears to be minimal limitations on his rushing ability, outside of the desire to not take a big hit. It would not be surprising if after the game an injury more significant than a should sprain is announced for Hurts.