Jalen Hurts was named one of the Eagles’ seven team captains last week, which is hardly news. Hurts was a captain in 2021 and, generally speaking, quarterbacks are de facto leaders on football teams.
What’s more important is how seriously Hurts takes that role.
“It means everything. It means everything,” Hurts said. “I think just trying to do things the right way for the team and putting the team first and doing everything I can with all my ability to play at a high level for the team, lead in the right direction and set the right example for everybody. I take it in high regard and I give a lot of value to being a captain.”
Hurts’ leadership doesn’t start with a C on his jersey. That patch is just reflective of everything he’s done since he joined the Eagles in 2020 as a second-round rookie.
He’s earned that C.
Hurts obviously wasn’t the starter when he arrived back in 2020. He was second on the depth chart behind Carson Wentz but that didn’t stop Hurts from being himself in the weight room, in the locker room and on the field. So players gravitated toward him because Hurts is a natural leader.
But even as natural as his leadership style seems, Hurts puts a lot of thought into it. Hurts says he doesn’t model his style of after any one individual but has learned how to lead from many folks he’s been around.
“I just think you have to be a sponge of all things and I’ve always made that reference,” Hurts said. “Nothing changes with this. Being a leader, you have to be able to see how different people operate, say, oh, I can apply that to my style of leadership, I can apply that to this individual on my team, I can apply that to this coach or whoever it is.”
Hurts last week listed some of the great leaders he’s been around and named all coaches: his dad Averion, Nick Saban, Lincoln Riley, Michael Locksley, Nick Sirianni, Doug Pederson, Brian Johnson, Shane Steichen.
“It goes on and on,” he said. “But I think as a leader, you have to be able to assess the team, assess your group and you have to be open to trying new things for different individuals because ultimately we all have the same goal. I think that’s what makes it unique.”
Hurts is just 24 but has been called an old soul before. This is just another example. He understands that he needs to treat his teammates as individuals, which sounds obvious, but is something even high-level coaches sometimes don’t understand. Hurts is cerebral, especially when it comes to this stuff.
Of course, no one has questioned Hurts’ leadership, not at Alabama, not at Oklahoma and not in the NFL. The questions have been about his ability as a passer. Hurts will have to answer those questions on the field.
What might not show up in the stat sheet, though, is the effect Hurts has on his teammates. They’ll follow him.
“I just want those guys to know that I’m going to give them everything I got,” Hurts said, “every game, every play, every ounce of studying, every ounce of preparation, it’s for the benefit of the group. Every ounce of accountability, whatever, it’s all for the team. I appreciate the opportunity.”
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