Through the opening six weeks of the season, we have seen the very best and the very worst of what Jalen Hurts has to offer. This was always going to be expected, but as time presses on, there’s a growing itch to see Hurts pick a side of the fence to leap over. Will he prove to be a franchise quarterback, or a developmental backup who needs more time? The longer we wait for an answer, the more important finding one becomes.
The play of Hurts seems to vary on a weekly basis. In one week he’ll look like a sharp game manager who takes what the defense gives him and can make some sensational throws into tight winds. Seven days later, he’ll look skittish in the pocket, spend most of the night escaping trouble that he doesn’t really need to, and missing a myriad of throws. Regardless of the type of game he’s having, he’ll find a way to restore a drop of faith by the end of the game, and there in lies the conundrum.
All it takes is one flashy 2-point conversion, one deep bomb that connects, or the hustle on a rushing play for that franchise quality to ooze out. Then, after the game, he says all the right things and handles himself perfectly. Hurts has all the leadership traits you could possibly ask for. He commands attention from those listening, has a high-motor, and clearly lifts everyone around him. But then the cycle repeats and we end up being reminded of every critique and criticism he’s faced up to this point.
Nobody is doubting the arm talent of Jalen Hurts. He can make all the throws in the book, but the next step is making them consistently and making them on time. On far too many occasions have deep shots been nullified because the second-year quarterback has waited a little too long, or failed to throw with anticipation and waited until the separation was crystal clear before having the confidence to sling it.
For Hurts to improve, he needs three things:
- Patience from the coaching staff
- Support from the right coaches
Nick Sirianni has to do a better job of taking the strain off of his quarterback. There is no way that a signal-caller who struggles with touch and timing on a deep ball should be forced into situations without a running-game where he has to throw super aggressively. There’s being molded by the fire, and being tossed into it without care. If Hurts is ever going to grow in confidence, he has to be able to trust his line, his reads, and his players. It’s difficult to do any of that while the offense is functioning about as smoothly as the McDonalds milkshake machine.
The biggest thing is patience. The Eagles need to remain patient with Hurts if they believe him to be the guy. But for patience to be calmly applied, there needs to be a sense of growth from Hurts. All we’re seeing right now is a player who is continuing to flash some elite potential but struggle with the same weaknesses that he has since being drafted into the league. There shouldn’t be lofty expectations for Hurts to turn into Kyler Murray overnight, but there at least needs to be visible growth as passer and that hasn’t happened yet.
What this really is going to come down to is how quickly the rest of the team grows. The Eagles are rebuilding, they’re young, and going through teething problems. But for every missed TD pass to a player like Jalen Reagor, or a huge defensive outing that ends up being negated, there will be a sense of ‘we could be here if the QB play was better’ from the front office and that could ultimately prove to be the driving factor in looking for an external solution this offseason.
Hurts is walking a tightrope right now and instead of walking down it, is doing backflips and landing them perfectly. His next step wobbles the entire thing and your heart ends up in your mouth. For Jalen Hurts to secure the QB spot for the long-term future, he doesn’t need to start doing pirouettes and handstands. He just has to make it to the other side.
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