Saturday, October 1, 2022

Nick Sirianni, Jalen Hurts brushing off Quincy Williams hit, Jets’ Robert Saleh has much different mindset

PHILADELPHIA — Jalen Hurts couldn’t even dwell on the hit that had the potential for disastrous effects. The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback just moved onto the next play, a short pass to Miles Sanders for an 8-yard gain as the first team offense kept moving down the field. 

For a preseason game, New York jets linebacker Quincy Williams put a number on Hurts — going full speed as Hurts ran out of bounds on a third-and-5 that resulted in no gain. The damage was done once Williams hit Hurts at the crown of the helmet, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down. 

The result could have been much worse for the Eagles, especially after seeing the reaction on the opposite end of the field from Nick Sirianni. The Eagles head coach screamed obscenities over the play, not even aware if his starting quarterback could play another down Friday night.  

“I wasn’t mad at Coach Saleh. I was mad at the situation,” Sirianni said after the Eagles’ 24-21 loss to the Jets. “I was more mad at the player, than Coach Saleh. Coach Saleh is a great guy. I have so much respect for him. It was just emotions of the game. I was just sticking up for Jalen. I’ll never apologize for sticking up for my players. I should have handled it a little bit better than I did.”

Hurts completed his next two passes after the hit, capping off a 6-for-6 night which he finished with 80 yards, a touchdown pass, and a perfect passer rating. The Eagles quarterback wasn’t exactly thrilled about discussing the hit either, not after how he performed in his one series of action. 

“I’m very pleased to be talking about this hit if this is the biggest takeaway from the night,” Hurts said sarcastically. “You definitely don’t want to come out here in these games and take hits, let alone a late hit like that. But it happened. 

“I’m not tripping about it. It happens. I’m healthy. I’m fine. I got right back up and played the next play.”

The Eagles were upset at the time, yet brushed it off and moved on. On the sideline the play happened, Saleh had a few words for Williams — a starter he’s counting on to make plays for New York this year. 

The Jets defense got off the field, yet Williams extended the drive with his excessive hit out of bounds. 

“Egregiously awful from Quincy, and he knows that – he knows better,” Saleh said. “And those are the plays that Quincy has to get out of his game if he wants to become the linebacker that I think he can be, that we all think he can be. It’s one thing to make a mistake in the game, it’s another thing to make a mistake that leads to points, touchdowns. 

“It’s a good drive, we’re off the field, Jalen is a phenomenal quarterback, and to stop them, hold them to a field goal after giving up an explosive play – pretty good showing for the first drive. Then to have that happen extends the drive. Anytime you extend the drive like that it’s probably going to lead to bigger points. 

“So Quincy knows, but at the same time those are the plays he’s got to get out of his game if he wants to be the player we think he can be.”

The penalty did end up costing the Jets, as Hurts found Dallas Goedert for a 22-yard touchdown pass three plays later to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead after the opening drive. The hit could have end up costing the Eagles too, and the organization was fortunate it didn’t. 

There’s a reason Sirianni doesn’t play his starters much in the preseason to begin with. 

“We won’t ever be scared to do something,” Sirianni said. “You’re going to get hit. He got hit late out of bounds. Well, what’s stopping somebody hitting him in the pocket? It’s football and that won’t play into our decision.”

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