This was always going to be a big year for Jalen Hurts. It’s his first year as a starter and under a rookie Head Coach, there were bound to be growing pains. Not only does Hurts need to build a strong rapport with Nick Sirianni, but if he fails to prove his worth, then the team could be lined with three top-15 picks going into this year’s NFL Draft to find a quarterback who can. Unfortunately for Hurts, it’s beginning to look as though his ceiling may be capped unless something changes.
The Oklahoma product excelled in the season-opener, picking apart a fragile Falcons defense by spreading the ball around effortlessly and making smart plays with his legs. There was a little meat left on the bone, but nothing worth going back to the restaurant for. That all changed in week two.
Over the past two weeks, Jalen Hurts has struggled in every phase of the game. From failing to put enough mustard on the majority of his deep passes, to playing overly skittish in the pocket and escaping at the earliest opportunity regardless of if there’s pressure or not, the second-year quarterback has struggled to find a rhythm. While his play could absolutely be better by quite some margin, it’s hard to expect improvement when the offense is being chained down.
A lot of people expected the Eagles to focus on running the ball this year after Nick Sirianni had so much success building the Indianapolis offense from the running backs outward. This was further re-enforced by the drafting of pass-catching back Kenny Gainwell, who can take the strain off the shoulders of Miles Sanders and allow him to do what he does best.
Sanders had two carries in Monday night’s loss to Dallas and his rushing attempts have declined every week.
The passing charts of Jalen Hurts don’t make for pleasant viewing. There is a severe lack of targets over the middle, forcing Hurts to constantly target one-on-one matchups with tight windows down the sideline – a clear area of weakness. The tight ends are heavily involved in the offense, but are rarely asked to catch the ball, and when they are, it’s on out routes. There are very few relief options for the Eagles quarterback right now, arguably forcing his hand into a style of play where his weaknesses are pushed to the forefront.
We all know that Jalen Hurts struggles with the deep ball. If you didn’t, it should have become abundantly clear in the opening two weeks. If Nick Sirianni is going to take away the run and force Hurts to constantly play to his weaknesses, then he’s simply setting Hurts up to fail.
It’s strange. Sirianni has stated he would be building offense around the strengths of his players, and he’s instead taking away everything that would empower Jalen Hurts, hanging him out to dry. With much more than just the success of a single season on the line for Hurts, it’s beginning to feel like he will fly as high as Nick Sirianni allows him to.
Hurts isn’t a franchise quarterback yet. What makes him so intriguing is the rare intangibles, that if developed properly, could absolutely see him turn into one. But unless his Head Coach is prepared to change his offense to allow Hurts to grow in confidence and composure, he may well be playing on borrowed time.
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