Undrafted – The Network

Is Jalen Hurts Going To Be OK After All?

The end of last year didn’t look all that great for Jalen Hurts. In 2020 Hurts was a non-factor for the first 12 weeks of the season. He played no more than 7 snaps in any game to that point. This changed in Week 13 as Hurts was brought in for Carson Wentz in the third quarter. And that was that, Wentz didn’t play a further snap for the Eagles.

It wasn’t smooth sailing at all after this for Hurts but the Eagles were at least his team. For the remainder of the year he went 77-of-148 (a 52% completion rate) for 1,061 yards as a passer. This produced 6 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a QB rating of 77.6. He was also sacked 13 times. The completion percentage is the most alarming thing to note here. He did produce 354 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns which added to his floor.

To say that Eagles fans were nervous going into the offseason and onto the 2021 season would be fair.

Eagle fans this year have had to get used to the idea that Hurts is their guy, for this year at least. The release of Carson Wentz confirmed that and the arrival of Gardiner Minshew raised a few eyebrows but nothing more. He is nothing but a solid backup.

So, Jalen Hurts, let’s see what you have.

Image Credit – Eagles Wire

Quieting The Critics – Week 1

The Jalen Hurts we saw on the field against the Atlanta Falcons was a different player to that we saw last year. It looked finally like he was an NFL player rather than a college player trying his best. He completed 27 of 35 passes for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also rushed for 62 yards and protected the ball well not giving up any turnovers.

The critics had been circling all offseason. None moreso than Chris Simms who excluded Jalen Hurts from his Top 40 QB. Yes, he didn’t have a great 2020 season but he was definitely not the 40th best. I know some journalists say things just for a response but that must have stung Hurts. More than he would let on I would expect. What we saw on Sunday of Week 1 was the best possible answer.

Hurts looked poised and in control, never looking flustered. Yes, was playing a poor Atlanta Defence. That said you can only produce against what is put in front of you. This was the tonic to the questions that fans had throughout the offseason. Minshew arriving puts little pressure on Hurts, this is his team until he loses that chance. It isn’t going to be taken from him this year.

Back Down To Earth – Week 2

After 2 weeks Jalen Hurts looks like he may be starting to step into his role fully. Eagles fans can only pray this continues as he has started to make them look far more competitive. Yes there were still issues against the 49ers but that Defence makes it tough for everyone. His development as a leader off the field is clear from his comments in the media. He is taking on the mantle of the guy who shoulders the responsibility.

There were issues across the Eagles team against the 49ers, not just with Hurts. Dropped passes and injuries to the O Line will do that to you. At times Hurts was also not helped by some questionable play calling. Hurts also looked to have a much better chemistry with his regular, top of the depth chart targets. He will need to develop the same sort of connection with those a rung or two lower to avoid repeats of this weekend just gone. Completing 12 of 24 pass attempts for 177 yards through an entire NFL game is not where he needs to be performing. Yes he rushed for 87 yards but that should be a bonus, not a substitute for air performance.

“They were things we could control, so that’s what hurts the most, we give credit to a good team and a good defence out there. Those wounds out there were self-inflicted.”

Jalen Hurts following his Week 2 performance against the 49ers
Image Credit – CBS Sports

Jalen Hurts knows he must be better for this team, for this city. His performance in Week 1 shows he can be that. If the scheme and play calling can pick up again, if the receivers can hold on to passes then there is hope. this is going to be a team effort. The NFL is a strange beast. American Football is the ultimate team sport yet the Quarterback is the sole individual who people look to in order to see quick improvement in the results.

The Rest Of The Season?

The NFC East looks stronger than last year across the board. The Cowboys came out swinging in Week 1 although they also looked a shell of that team in Week 2, despite winning. Washington and the Giants played out a Week 2 matchup that was far more exciting than anyone expected before hand. They both possess Defences which are stronger than average in this league.

For the Eagles to keep up they are going to be reliant on Hurts, his arm and his legs. The rushing upside he possesses will keep opposition Defences on their toes. As one of the Quarterbacks in this league who can shift the pocket quickly he has an advantage.

Hurts has the arm to survive in this league although it was not on display last weekend. He has shown that it does exist in more than a handful of games already. For the Eagles to be successful everyone will have to play their part. The Defence will need stops and the Offense will need to hold onto the ball. To showcase the best version of Jalen Hurts though it is going to come down in part to the play-callers. They have to give Hurts the chance to be the player we saw in Week 1.

Ultimately though much of it will come back to Jalen Hurts and he knows it:

“We had a lot of opportunities out there that we didn’t capitalise on. I think that’s plain and simple right there. We have to be consistent in our execution. I have to be consistent in my execution and operation as a field general. It’s something to learn from today — a lot to learn from.”

Jalen Hurts

There are green shoots of progress and development there. Now it’s time for the Eagles organisation to nurture them and let them grow into what they hoped they would when Hurts was drafted.

Image Credit – ESPN

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