May 18, 2024  |  
 | Remer,MN
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM 
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM 
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM 
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM Sports Media Index – Perfect for Fantasy Sports Fans.
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM Sports Media Index – Perfect for Fantasy Sports Fans. Track media mentions of your fantasy team.
NY Post
New York Post
21 Oct 2023

NextImg:Ex-Alabama teammates Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa sharing Eagles-Dolphins spotlight

There isn’t a more fascinating matchup on the NFL’s Week 7 schedule than the Sunday night stand-alone national game between the Dolphins (5-1) and Eagles (5-1) at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles will enter the game still smarting from the 20-14 loss they took from the Jets last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Jets’ defense forced four Philadelphia turnovers in that game.

Three of those giveaways came on Jalen Hurts interceptions, the last of which set up the Jets’ winning touchdown in the final moments of the game.

“Sometimes after bad losses there’s great times for growth and so that’s what our mission will be to grow from this, grow from the mistakes that we made,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said this week.

“We’ve been here before,’’ Hurts said. “It’s all about how you respond to it. I got a feeling that we’ll come in with some great intensity. Some of these things, they build character. I say that all the time it truly builds character so this team just has to respond the right way.”

Jalen Hurts threw three interceptions in the Eagles’ loss to the Jets on Sunday.
Getty Images
Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins lead the AFC East with a 5-1 record.

Hurts was uncharacteristically brutal in the loss to the Jets, going 28-for-45 for 280 yards, one passing TD, one rushing TD and those three damaging INTs. The Jets’ defense, with some brilliant disguised fronts and coverages, had Hurts often throwing off his back foot and looking unsure at what he was looking at.

The Dolphins, whose defense isn’t the caliber of the Jets, surely have been scouring that film during the week to pick up anything that disrupted Hurts. One thing that may help Miami is the fact that Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, one of the anchors on their offensive line, was lost to an ankle injury against the Jets.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles’ defense will be facing a much more dangerous and prolific offense than that of the Jets, which they held to only 244 total offensive yards and 2-for-11 on third downs.

The degree of difficulty for the Philadelphia defense will be raised Sunday night. The Dolphins are a track team in helmets and pads with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and running back Raheem Mostert.

They’re averaging 499 yards per game, the second-most in NFL history through six games. Only Kurt Warner’s 2000 St. Louis Rams team, nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf,” averaged more.

Jalen Hurts and the Eagles lost their first game of the season against the Jets on Sunday.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

That is where the subplot to this game resides — Hurts versus Tagovailoa, the two former Alabama teammates with an interesting history.

Hurts was the star quarterback at Alabama when Tagovailoa arrived in 2017. When Hurts struggled in the College Football Playoff title game that season, Alabama coach Nick Saban pulled Hurts in favor of Tagovailoa, who led the Crimson Tide to a comeback victory against Georgia. Hurts, who’d lost his starting job to Tagovailoa, eventually transferred to Oklahoma.

Jalen Hurts (l.) and Tua Tagovailoa (r.) were teammates at Alabama before Hurts transferred to Oklahoma.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hurts’ ascent to stardom in the NFL has been more rapid. He finished second in NFL MVP voting in 2022 and helped the Eagles reach Super Bowl LVII last season. Tagovailoa has struggled to stay healthy, but is having his best season now.

“He went down a different road than I did to get to where I’m at,’’ Tagovailoa said this week. “He had to go down a different road to get to where he’s at. I got a lot of respect for him — who he is as a person, who he is as a player, and wish him the best of luck as we play him.”

The danger Tagovailoa and the Dolphins present is that they don’t lean more on the pass or the run. They do both extremely well. Miami is ranked first in the league in rushing, with 181.8 yards per game, and first in passing, with 316.8 yards per game.

Tua Tagovailoa has quarterback Miami’s productive offense this season.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Tagovailoa leads the league in passer rating (114.1), yards passing (1,876) and yards per attempt (9.5). He’s the only quarterback in the NFL this season to post a 90-plus passer rating in all six games. He connected with Hill six times for 163 yards and a 41-yard TD last Sunday in a win over the Panthers, and Hill now has 814 receiving yards through six games, which is the most in that span in the Super Bowl era.

“There’s a lot of things to troubleshoot,” Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai said this week about the diverse Miami offense. “They’re extremely fast, extremely explosive. They’ve got playmakers at all levels of the offense and attack all levels of our defense.”

Making this matchup so good is the fact the Eagles’ defense ranks second in the NFL against the run, allowing 65.8 yards per game.

“This is a game that a lot of people are going to want to see, given the talent that’s on that side of the ball, the talent that’s on this side of the ball,” Tagovailoa told reporters. “It’s one of those where, ‘OK, we’ve got a lot of good matchups across the board. How are these guys going to play us? How are we going to come out against these guys?’ ’’