EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Against all odds after a dreadful offensive performance the Eagles still had a chance to beat the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Despite three earlier interceptions and what turned out to be a 17.5 passer rating, Jalen Hurts was still plugging away, somehow putting more and more pressure on a Giants defense that had already lost starting cornerbacks Adoree Jackson and Darnay Holmes to injuries in-game.
From a passing perspective, it was clear that New York defensive coordinator Patrick Graham wanted to take away DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert and succeeded for the most part with Nick Sirianni’s two top receiving targets combining for just three receptions on seven targets.
With 1:11 remaining and no timeouts, Hurts had to look elsewhere and settled on rookie running back Kenny Gainwell underneath to put the Philadelphia offense in a position to snatch an unlikely victory.
The first of back-to-back shots to snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat went to the struggling Jalen Reagor down the left sideline and the ball bounced off the 2020 first-round pick’s hands, almost falling into the arms of Giants’ rookie CB Aaron Robinson.
With one opportunity left on 4th-and-10 to at least extend the game with 25 seconds left, Hurts manipulated the pocket well and Reagor broke open over the middle with the football again hitting him in the hands only to find the turf.
Had Reagor snared that one the Eagles’ would have been at the Giants’ 1-yard line with the opportunity to race to ball and spiking, leaving one or two more opportunities to punch it in.
Instead, it was a 13-7 setback to one of the league’s worst teams who fired their offensive coordinator coming in and were dealing with reports that the general manager is a lame duck.
“It’s not on Jalen Reagor, it’s on me,” Hurts said after the game.
To his credit, Reagor didn’t evade the media and took accountability for his contributions to the ugly loss.
“Just two drops that I would say is very uncharacteristic,” Reagor said. “Just gotta go through the highs and lows, go to the next week and make the plays.”
The problem is that the lack of productivity hadn’t been uncharacteristic for Reagor, the team’s 2020 first-round pick who has paled in production to the receiver selected directly after him, Minnesota star Justin Jefferson, and has essentially lost his job as the WR 2 this season to Quez Watkins, a sixth-round pick, in the same draft Reagor was selected at No. 21 overall.
Behind the scenes, Regaor’s camp has quietly bemoaned at his use by two different coaching staffs now, and when he had an opportunity to change the narrative and prove he should be a bigger part of the game plan Regor whiffed. … twice.
The criticism is only going to mount from here with Reagor having perhaps only five games and limited targets to prove he can turn this thing around.
“You gotta take the heat,” Reagor said. “ … I would say now that [social media knocks] doesn’t hold that much weight to me. So it’s fine. Like I said, this was for me to take ownership, so whatever is going to be said is going to be said regardless.”
And the next step?
“Just keep going.," he said. "You know I had catches and stuff like that. So I gotta keep going and not get down on myself."
Reagor was targeted seven times, more than anyone on the team, and made just two catches for 31 yards.
"I don’t know if we’re completely prioritizing him in the offense," said head coach Nick Sirianni. "...He's one of our quickest guys. He’s one of our strongest guys. We want to make sure we get him some touches.
"The way we’ve been getting it to him, on some reverses, (end) arounds, jet sweeps, screens. They haven’t been working. So we gotta find a different way to do it. And that’s my job first to do so."
Sirianni tried to do that. Reagor didn't uphold his end of the deal.
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.