The Philadelphia Eagles are 1-0 following a perfectly orchestrated demolition job of the Atlanta Falcons. While there’s a lot to be excited about, there still seems to be a puzzling clash of opinions when it comes to Jalen Hurts.
The second-year quarterback had himself a day yesterday, completing 77% of his passes for 274 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no turnovers. He proved to be dangerous outside the pocket, made some gorgeous throws on the run, and spread the ball around nicely. However, there were a lot of people who were much more conservative when it came to praising the Oklahoma product.
Hurts wasn’t perfect. He still turned to his athleticism in the first sign of danger and was almost seeing ghosts in the pocket at times, dashing out of harms way when he had plenty of time to step up and make a throw. There were times he underthrew receivers, and a lack of deep shots that really flashed what that big arm can do in what was a pretty simplified offense.
The truth is that Jalen Hurts entered his second season with some glaring weaknesses in his game. His rookie year was filled with just as many remarkable highs as there were worrying lows. The big thing going into 2021 was to find a more consistent base and build up from there. We all know how high the ceiling of Hurts is, but if he can raise his floor, it becomes that much more attainable.
After fumbling the ball 9 times in a very small sample size last year, Hurts looked like a different quarterback against Atlanta. When being hit, he tucked the ball into his chest.
There was one play where he rolled out and was chased down by Grady Jarrett, who stalked him to the boundary. Hurts thought about throwing it, realized he was going to take an unnecessary hit if he did, took one more step, and floated it out of bounds.
When rushing the ball, Hurts took smart slides in front of defenders as opposed to trying to truck them.
These may sound like simple things, but if Hurts can continue to show a strong sense of awareness throughout the season, then the rest will come. He did look much more comfortable in the pocket and wasn’t afraid to come off of his first read, it just didn’t happen as often as maybe many would’ve liked.
The big thing here is that Hurts elevated his teammates and took what the defense gave him. He didn’t get over-aggressive, he didn’t make boneheaded decisions, and he didn’t try to play hero-ball. The accuracy, the time in the pocket, scanning the field etc, will all come in time. But it’s not worth focusing on them if there’s no fundamental base to build on. Jalen Hurts now has that…and it’s a pretty damn good one.
He was never going to be a top-10 QB overnight, but what we saw yesterday was a player who should have been ranked far higher than 41st in the NFL…
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