Jalen Hurts raised some eyebrows after the Eagles’ loss in Seattle when he questioned the commitment level of his team.
“I don’t think we all were committed enough,” Hurts said after the game.
A few days later, the Eagles’ 25-year-old franchise quarterback was asked to clarify those comments. He insists that he was talking to himself as much as anyone.
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“My mind was in a place of really just trying to challenge myself, challenge myself,” Hurts said. “I think when you think holistically about the things we want to accomplish and everything we’re trying to do. It all runs through me, it all starts with me. When I say ‘we’ I mean ‘me’ because I’m the point guard out there. I’m the one that makes everything go. I’m the guy that everyone trusts to set the pace for everything. That’s in my play, that’s in my leadership, that’s in every aspect of the game. That comes with the shoes that I walk in.
“This is a challenge to myself. You challenge yourself and you challenge the people around you. I think it’s just a situation where we are, where it’s just something that we’re going through, not something we’re stuck in. It’s beauty in all of this. It’s beauty in all of it and I embrace every ounce of it.”
It might sound strange that Hurts’ questioning his teammates has turned into him challenging himself. It sounds like a leap, right?
But the thing about Hurts is that, at least publicly, there are no accountability issues. After the game Monday, he was the first to say he needs to play better. And he continued to be a critic of his play on Thursday as the Eagles were preparing to face the Giants on Christmas Day.
“When I talk, I’m talking to myself as well, first and foremost,” Hurts said. “One thing about leadership is you never want to tell someone else to do something that you’re not going to do.”
There’s no question that Hurts is one of the most important leaders on this team. On a roster with 10+ year veteran captains like Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson and Brandon Graham, it’s really Hurts who leads the way. And he knows that.
“What I’m saying is everything starts with me,” Hurts said. “I set the tone. I’m the temperature. I set the temperature for the room. I set all of that. I’m challenging myself to be better in all aspects. I know the standard I hold myself to and I put that standard out there.”
Hurts is right, by the way. He hasn’t played well — or at least not as well as many expected this season. There have been moments of brilliance. Heck, he was the MVP favorite not that long ago.
But Hurts has also struggled recently. He’s turned the football over, he’s uncomfortable in the pocket, he’s making poor decisions. And for the Eagles to turn this thing around, they’re going to need their $50 million-per-year quarterback to play better. Full stop.
When asked how he knows how and when to challenge his teammates, Hurts mentioned that it takes consistency. But he also mentioned that every team’s journey won’t look the same. The 2023 Eagles are not the 2022 Eagles and it’s OK to accept that.
“It takes true togetherness to win and winning is hard to do,” Hurts said. “You have to accept the challenges of what comes with that.”