Jalen Hurts

Why there's no reason to worry about Jalen Hurts

Hurts hasn't been his best through two weeks, but the Eagles QB will be fine.

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Jalen Hurts has looked less than superhuman the first two weeks of the season, and he’d be the first to admit his performances against the Patriots and Vikings haven’t been up to his standard.

That said, Hurts is just about the last guy on Earth I worry about. And when I hear people saying last year was a fluke or teams have figured him out or my favorite – we’re starting to see another regression like we did with Carson? I just laugh.

Jalen will be fine.

I think back to 2003, when the Eagles were coming off their second straight NFC Championship Game, and two games into the season Donovan McNabb had thrown three interceptions and no touchdowns, his passer rating was an NFL-worst 41.4, he’d been sacked 11 times, the Eagles were 0-2 and it seemed like the end of the world.

All the Eagles did was win 12 of their next 14 games and reach another NFC Championship Game, and McNabb went to another Pro Bowl.

It happens. We’ve seen it all over the league the first two weeks of the season. Patrick Mahomes and the mighty Chiefs offense are averaging 18 points per game. Josh Allen threw three picks against the Jets. Joe Burrow and Matt Stafford – who squared off in a Super Bowl 18 months ago – have two of the lowest passer ratings in the league.

Hurts so far faced the best defensive coach in history, who had five months to prepare for him, and then a Vikings team with a new defensive coordinator on a short week. And he’s done it with a new offensive coordinator who’s clearly still finding his way in his new role.

And while he hasn’t looked as sharp as last year, it’s not like he’s been horrible. Doesn’t seem like he’s seeing the field the way he usually does, hasn’t used the best judgment when he’s taken off running and has committed one bad turnover in each game.

But he’s made enough plays in big moments to get the Eagles to 2-0 for only the seventh time since 1993, he’s got the highest completion percentage by an Eagles QB after two games since Randall Cunningham in 1992, and he’s made several of those signature spectacular plays that we’ve gotten so accustomed to. 

In the Patriots game, when things were looking bleak in the fourth quarter, he completed six straight passes – four to A.J. Brown – to set up a crucial Jake Elliott field goal. And that doesn’t include a beautiful 48-yard back-shoulder pass that Brown bobbled a bit as he stepped out of bounds, rendering a perfect pass incomplete after a replay challenge. Another penalty – a borderline holding on Landon Dickerson - negated a 25-yard TD to Brown.

In the Vikings game, the passing game wasn’t what anyone wanted, but Hurts did find a way to complete two 50-yard passes for the first time in his career – a 54-yarder off his back foot to DeVonta Smith in the first quarter that set up a field goal and a 63-yard TD in the third quarter – the 3rd-longest TD pass of his career. And rush for two more touchdowns.

There was one play Thursday night that was vintage Hurts. 

The Eagles had a 3rd-and-5 on their own 41-yard-line with 5:14 left in the game. The Vikings had scored 14 straight points to cut a 20-point lead down to six, and they had all the momentum. The Eagles were scuffling, and the crowd at the Linc was terrified. It really felt like if the Eagles couldn’t convert and had to punt, they weren’t going to win the game.

Huge play. Pivotal play.

Hurts threaded a pass through a tight window between linebacker D.J. Wonnum and cornerback Akayleb Evans to Brown for a first down. Next play, D’Andre Swift ran 43 yards. Two plays later Swift scored and the Eagles had a two-possession lead with 4 ½ minutes left. Ballgame.

In the box score, it was just a 12-yard completion. In reality, it was a spectacular play by Hurts in an incredibly high-leverage situation with the game on the line on national TV.

We could talk about the numbers all day, but we should all know by now that some of the things Hurts does to help the Eagles win games can’t be measured by stats.

He finds a way. And I get that some people get furious when you start talking about wins being a quarterback stat, but there isn’t one person that affects what happens on the field more than the quarterback, and Hurts week after week figures out ways to carry this team to wins even when he’s not at his sharpest or things are falling apart around him.

And that can take a lot of forms. Whether it’s calming down Brown when he’s not getting the ball or encouraging a young teammate on the sideline who missed an assignment or willing himself through traffic past the sticks to convert a big third down. He finds a way.

The Eagles are 24-8 under Nick Sirianni when Hurts starts, 22-3 since the roots growing underground speech and 19-1 in Hurts’ last 20 starts.

That’s not an accident. That’s not a fluke.

Whether his stats are pretty or not, Hurts does what he has to do for the Eagles to win football games, and when you get right down to it, that’s all that matters.

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