Jalen Hurts impressed teammates with strong leadership in NFL start

NFL: DEC 13 Saints at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 13: Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) carries the ball out of the endzone in the first half during the game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles on December 13, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The first NFL start of Jalen Hurts couldn’t have really gone much better. The second-round pick made quite the statement in a huge upset win over the previously 10-2 New Orleans Saints and their intimidating defense. Perhaps even more impressive was the way in which he handled the post-game presser.

Before talking to reporters, Hurts balled out. With 106 rushing yards to his name, Hurts broke a 56-game streak of the Saints defense allowing no more than 100 rushing yards to a single player. On top of that, he went 17/30 for 167 yards and a beautiful 4th down touchdown to Alshon Jeffery. Hurts didn’t turn the ball over once.

It was very clear just how different things look with Hurts under center, but this change was one that could have sparked the downfall of the Philadelphia Eagles. All we heard throughout the week, however, was just how strong the leadership traits in Jalen Hurts are and how brightly they’d shined during practice. That didn’t change after the game.

“I think going into next week, I want to continue to impact the guys around me and work hard every day.” The former Oklahoma Sooner explained. “I always try to encourage somebody to bring somebody with them and I want to continue to get better at doing my job. I have a lot I can learn from this game, as well as us as a team. Just continuing to work, keeping that hunger and building on this thing this week.”

Hurts had every reason to be confident after his performance and one would forgive the rookie for getting excited about beating a 10-2 team in his first start, especially given the circumstances. Instead, his attention turned to practice and getting even better.

“We got this win, but is it up to our standard of play? No. So that’s why I say we have so much to build on and so much more to work for. [We] have to continue to build, continue to learn. Every game is an opportunity to learn and we need to use it to our advantage moving forward.”

“One thing when I look back on this game, a lot of money [was] left on the table for us. A lot of money on the table we left out there. We’re very excited. We’re happy we got a ‘W’ against a really good team. But we’re going to go back to work. We have a 24-hour rule on this thing, we clearly understand that. A lot to work on, a lot to build on. I’m excited to get back to practice, honestly, and get ready for the next game.”

With so much noise surrounding Carson Wentz, his benching, and the jobs currently hanging in the balance, it was crucial that Head Coach Doug Pederson rallied his troops. Without a strong commander, that was never going to happen. The good news is that Jalen Hurts appears to have done a great job in setting the tone and lifting those around him.

“He’s so confident and he’s a natural leader.” Miles Sanders said. “We just needed that and he gave us that spark to start from last week.”

“He knows how to balance certain things.” Jalen Reagor explained after he had arguably his most complete game yet. “He knows when to say things and when to get us up. For example, if we are sitting on the bench and we are about to be up with the defense getting off the field, he just knows certain ways and he is a young player. For him to be that natural-born guy, it is kind of amazing. I am proud of him and just seeing him do the things he did tonight, it shows he’s special.”

Pederson was reluctant to name him the starter ahead of next week’s clash with the Cardinals, but it really would be hard to anticipate otherwise. Hurts shone as brightly off the field as he did on it, which really is saying something.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire