There has been growing talk over the last month or so on the comparisons between Jalen Hurts and the best QB in Eagles history. If you asked me a month ago, I would’ve laughed at the thought of comparing a second round pick, to a QB that changed the entire course of the franchise.
With the Eagles offense finally gaining an identity over the last month, and the development of Hurts showing, the comparisons to McNabb have become more prevalent.
It’s been an awesome thing to see over the last three weeks.
Hurts has always been a player that is easy to like: a good leader, tireless work ethic and a drive to get better each day.The piece that has driven Eagles fans nuts is that the early season numbers weren’t good enough to prove he was the answer at QB.
That thought process has changed over the last three weeks and the comparisons to #5 are growing.
Even if the starts to both careers were different.
Coaching Staff Differences
The one main difference between McNabb and Hurts is clearly within their respective coaching staffs.
Donovan McNabb entered the NFL as the second overall pick in the draft with a brand new head coach. He was able to grow with the new coach and got his first start late in his rookie year.
The rookie year of Jalen Hurts was a mess. The last remnants of the Doug Pederson coaching staff gave him his first start late in the year, but his first full offseason in the NFL was with a brand new coaching staff.
Comparing Andy Reid to Nick Sirianni is laughable. But it’s worthy to note that the 2000 Eagles (the first full year with McNabb as the starter) already had a full year under Andy Reid so the growth was much easier to handle.
First full year in the league
If you compare the 2000 Eagles to the 2021 Eagles, there are some pretty impressive similarities. Yes the 2000 Eagles went 11-5 and the current 4-6 Eagles are already going to fail that mark.
But the similarities are pretty incredible when you look deeper in this.
In 2000 Eagles, McNabb not only threw for 3,000 yards, but he also ran for over 600. He was the team’s leading rusher after the team’s number one running-back, Duce Staley, was hurt after five games. The team was a middling 5-4 through nine games until they ended up winning four in a row and five of their last six.
Jalen Hurts is the team’s leading rusher through ten games, even with Miles Sanders out for the last three games, is on pace to blow through McNabb’s 600 rushing yards and still hit the 3,000 yard plateau.
McNabb didn’t have receivers like DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, but Hurts doesn’t have the Eagles defense that was 4th in the NFL in 2000 and had two All-Pro’s and a future Hall of Famer on the roster.
Context is key when dealing when comparing the two QB’s. What McNabb had, Hurts doesn’t, and what Hurts has that has made him look great, McNabb certainly did not have for most of his career.
It was a tough sell for Jalen Hurts to show he was the answer at QB for the Eagles to start the season. The Eagles played some of the best offenses in the NFL to date, some of the best QB’s to date, and it made it almost impossible to have Hurts look better than any of them.
But the offense and development of Jalen Hurts has grown at a much faster rate than even McNabb showed in 2000.
In fact, it took McNabb until his third season to really grow as a passer from the views of his teammates. Hurts has shown he has enough talent to develop into a true franchise QB. Even in a game against the Denver Broncos, a team that was a top 5 defense in the game, Hurts showed true improvement as a QB and the team ran away against a team that’s in the playoff hunt.
McNabb is, without a doubt, the greatest QB the Eagles have ever had. This isn’t saying that Hurts is better than McNabb right now. But he’s probably the closest to the skillset of McNabb the Eagles have had since #5 walked out of the tunnel at the Linc.
And that includes some really talented throwers: Wentz, Foles, and even Vick.
As a leader, and QB, Hurts has shown enough for the Eagles to build a competent and dynamic team around him.
He should be given the same leeway as McNabb was given to bring back the dominance of this franchise.
Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire