How did Hurts become one of the NFL's most accurate QBs?


Two years ago, Jalen Hurts was the least-accurate quarterback in the NFL.

He ranked 44th among 44 quarterbacks who threw at least 100 passes in 2000, just below someone named Jake Luton.

Last. Dead last.

He never hit on more than 57 percent of his passes in any of his five extended appearances, and his 52 percent completion percentage was lowest by an Eagles QB with a minimum of 100 passes since Mike McMahon completed 45 percent of his passes in 2005. 

Not the company you want to keep.

Today, Hurts sits near the top of the NFL in accuracy. After going 21-for-27 in the Eagles’ win over the Texans Thursday night in Houston, Hurts went into Sunday's action sixth in the NFL at 68.2 percent, ahead of people like Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers.

The only quarterback in Eagles history to start 10 or more games and complete a higher percentage of his passes was Carson Wentz at 69.6 percent in 2018.

Only one quarterback completed 52 percent or worse of their passes as a rookie and had a season at 68 percent at any point the rest of his career. That was Alex Smith, who was at 50.9 percent as a rookie with the 49ers in 2005 and in 2012 hit on 70.2 percent of his passes for the Niners.

That was seven years later.

Hurts’ improvement from 52 percent to 68 percent this quickly is literally unprecedented.

And he’s not just hitting on a high percentage of his passes. He’s doing it without throwing interceptions and while driving the ball down the field.

Hurts has 12 touchdowns and two interceptions to go with that 68 percent accuracy. He’s one of only eight QBs in history to hit those benchmarks eight games into a season.

What’s gone into Hurts’ remarkable improvement in accuracy?

Is it improving his technique and shortening his delivery and cleaning up his release? Or is it just a deepened understanding of defenses, coverages and blitzes?

“I think it's both,” Nick Sirianni said. “It's both his ability to see the plays over and over and over again, know exactly where he's going with the ball and make quick decisions. That's a huge part of it. And that leads to physical. His mind working fast and knowing where to go with the football leads to better opportunities to throw.”

Nobody is going to out-work Hurts, and the improvement he made this past offseason both physically and mentally is paying off.

Not to mention a second year in Sirianni’s offense and with Shane Steichen as a play caller and the addition of A.J. Brown.

Put together his accelerated ability to process what he's seeing and the improvements he made in his footwork and delivery and you get 68 percent.

“When you throw it quicker, the rush is not quite there yet,” Sirianni said. “You're able to make more accurate throws when the rush isn't there because you've made quick decisions. So it goes hand in hand.”

By delivering the ball more accurately, Hurts has given his receivers more opportunities to catch the ball in stride and pick up yards after the catch.

The Eagles were 18th in the NFL in passing yards after the catch last year, and they’re sixth this year. It doesn’t help that Jalen Reagor’s reps have turned into Brown’s reps. 

But that’s the best thing about Hurts’ accuracy. He’s more accurate on completions than he was last year.

“Jalen has done a great job of just continuing to develop himself as a player,” Sirianni said. “[Quarterbacks coach] Brian Johnson has done a great job coaching him. Shane has done a great job coaching him. That's a great quarterback room with Gardner [Minshew] and Ian [Book] and [assistant quarterbacks coach] Alex Tanney is in that room, as well, and it's fun just being in there with those guys. 

“He's just continuing to get better, and I look forward to seeing him continue to grow.”

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