LANDOVER, Md. — Jalen Hurts didn’t even flinch.
As the Eagles’ 23-year-old quarterback walked off the field and into the tunnel at FedExField on Sunday afternoon, the stands partially collapsed, sending several fans hurling toward him in a situation that could have ended in disaster.
But Hurts, as cool and calm as ever, sidestepped the debris, helped a couple fans up, smiled and posed for a photo. Then he joined his teammates in the locker room after their 20-16 win that helped send them to the playoffs.
Talk about stoic.
That’s just who Jalen Hurts is. It’s who he is when bodies come flying at him in the game or after it. It’s who he is when the Eagles are up by 20 or down by 10, like they were early on Sunday in Washington.
“What I felt on the sideline today was this calmness,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “There was a calmness throughout the entire game.”
That sense of calm trickles down for a football team. It comes from leadership and it is contagious. For the Eagles, it clearly starts with their veteran players who have been through it before like Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, Rodney McLeod.
But it also comes from Hurts.
Because as Sirianni was explaining this calm feeling from his team, it was impossible to not think he was talking directly about his second-year quarterback.
“I think that is definitely a reflection of how the quarterback is and how he was all day today and how he is in general,” Sirianni said.
Hurts was very good on Sunday. His numbers weren’t eye-popping. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 214 yards. But he also ran for 44 yards on an ankle that’s still healing and put forth a gutty performance in a game the Eagles needed to win.
The Eagles were down 10-0 after the first quarter.
They were down 16-7 at halftime.
They still trailed 16-14 entering the fourth.
But there was never any panic, especially not with Hurts. There just never is and that really stands out, especially because he’s still just 23 and in his second NFL season.
How does Hurts manage to stay so calm?
“Just go out there and be myself,” he said. “Not the box that everybody tries to place me in or place this team in. I go out there and be Jalen Hurts and I try to be the best version of myself every day. I embrace all the different things around me.
“I know I have a great set of teammates and a great set of coaches around me and they support me. I support them just as much and I know to come out and win games like this it is a total team effort. If we keep on learning, keep on growing, keep on doing the things we need to do, who knows how it could end.”
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With all the external questioning of Hurts this year, he has remained confident in his own ability and focused on improving. And he’s improved a lot.
There’s a ton of pressure on Hurts, not just to play the quarterback position at a high level this year, but to prove that he can be the franchise’s long-term solution at the position.
But Hurts is unflappable.
He doesn’t let any of that outside noise get to him. The rat poison, as he calls it, can buzz off.
“He’s tough. He’s tough minded,” Lane Johnson said. “I still have never seen him happy, really, as far as (being) enthusiastic. He takes the game very serious. Win or lose, always the same. And that’s what you need as far as the mentality of a quarterback in this league.”
Maybe Hurts will never become a great quarterback. But if he doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of effort or intangibles. He still needs to improve as a passer — we all know that — but there’s an awful lot to like about Hurts.
We saw that during that game on Sunday.
And then we saw it as he walked off the field, through the tunnel of a dilapidated old stadium.
“I’m just happy everybody is safe from it,” Hurts said. “It is crazy. It is crazy stuff right there. That was a really dangerous situation.”
And Hurts didn’t flinch.