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Cardinals Must Make Sure They Aren't Hurt(s) By Play Extension

After issues is Chicago, defense faces another mobile QB

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts tries to get away from Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins when the two teams played in Arizona in 2022.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts tries to get away from Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins when the two teams played in Arizona in 2022.

PHILADELPHIA -- Andre Chachere smiled at the memory, when there would be practice days at the NovaCare Complex when he was playing for the Eagles and the safety would sometimes get the best of Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

The two are no longer teammates, with Chachere having followed his Philly defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon out to the Cardinals -- who visit Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday in a reunion with the Eagles.

"I'm excited, man," Chachere said. "The crowd is definitely going to be rocking. I'm excited to go back and see some of those faces and play against them."

The main face Chachere and the defense will be watching is Hurts. This isn't the same Eagles offense that went to the Super Bowl last year and even though Hurts isn't performing nearly as well, he remains dangerous. Limiting his ability to extend plays is a major key for Gannon's squad, especially it was a main reason the Cardinals defense struggled against Justin Fields in Chicago last week.

"(Hurts) is one of the best at it in the world," Gannon said. "This opponent, when he extends plays, he throws it over your head or there's no one around him and he runs it for an explosive, so we got to do a good job."

Last weekend against the Giants, on third-and-20, Hurts lobbed a pass over a leaping Isaiah Simmons that found wide receiver A.J. Brown's hands for the first down. While Hurts' ability to use his arm is an asset for the Eagles, keeping him in the pocket is a better option than letting him scramble.

According to Next Gen Stats, Hurts has thrown an NFL-worst 13 interceptions from inside the pocket and his numbers in pass yards per attempt, passing touchdown to interception ratio, and passer rating are drastically lower than last season.

His rushing numbers, on the other hand, remain atop the league. Hurts has 15 rushing touchdowns this season, which is an NFL quarterback record.

Safety Budda Baker said ahead of the Bears matchup that it's not easy to defend mobile quarterbacks like Fields and Hurts. But he added this week it can be helpful when you play them in back-to-back games.

"I would say it helps a little bit just understanding some of the calls that we had and some of the things we could have done better in the game," Baker said. "At the end of the day, we understand that it's about stopping that run game first. Getting Jalen Hurts to stay in the pocket and try to limit explosives and create turnovers, so that's going to be the main goal."

Defensive coordinator Nick Rallis said that when it comes to preparing for this game, his familiarity with the Eagles helps "make it a little bit faster to prepare and kind of shape your thoughts in your mind -- but doesn't necessarily make it easier on Sunday."

Chachere is eager to put the knowledge he gained lining up against Brown and DeVonta Smith at practice to test on Sunday. This season alone, he's picked up more tackles and earned nearly 300 more defensive snaps than he had combined in his two years with the Eagles.

He hopes to get the best of Hurts once again.

"Certain game plan things that we got in hopefully will be able to slow him down a little bit," Chachere said. "He's a really smart quarterback and really good with the ball. Hopefully if I see some things, we'll be able to make some plays. But he's a great quarterback and I got all the respect for him."


The Cardinals activated cornerback Bobby Price from Injured Reserve on Saturday, filling one of the team's two open roster spots. Price's window to be activated was to close next week. The Cards also elevated wide receiver Dan Chisena from the practice squad for the game against the Eagles.