The quarterback position is perhaps, the most important position in all of professional sports. The game rests on the arm of the signal-caller.
No other position in sports has the impact of the quarterback position in football.
A bad or less than sufficient quarterback can ruin a team’s chances at success (see: San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos). While an elite quarterback can pull up everyone around them.
It’s commonplace in NFL circles to hear the old adage of a team being only as good as it’s quarterback.
We go as he goes. He’s a leader. He’s a warrior. He’s exemplified that in a lot of ways, but more importantly through his actions. So, when he speaks, we listen.Rodney McLeod
There may not be a better representation of this cliché of sorts in this current NFL season than Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles stumbled to a 2-5 record through their first 7 games. They were playing uninspiring football. Fast-forward 6 weeks and the Eagles are 6-7 with 4 games remaining.
Transversely, there have been games like Hurts’ week 1 performance against the Atlanta Falcons in which he was exceptional as both a passer and runner, accumulating 326 total yards of offense and 3 touchdowns, or his performance in the 1st half of Philadelphia’s Week 10 matchup with the Denver Broncos in which Hurts’ potential was on full display against a top 5 NFL defense: two touchdown passes, multiple throws over 20 yards, along with a 31-yard scramble.
And on the other hand, there have been games in which Hurts has looked completely overmatched, like his Week 3 performance against the Dallas Cowboys, in which he turned the ball over twice and appeared shellshocked at everything Dan Quinn’s defensive unit threw at him.
It’d be an understatement to say Hurts’ performance has fluctuated throughout the season, but such has also been the case for the Eagles’ season as a collective team.
“We talk a lot of times about the jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and this guy has done everything possible to put himself into a successful position, with his work ethic, with his study habits, with his leadership, and so I think for us, like Coach said, we’re looking for him to grab the reigns and go, and follow him as it goes.”
That was Howie Roseman at the start of Eagles training camp this past July when asked about potential benchmarks for the 2nd-year quarterback and first-year full-time starter Jalen Hurts.
Looking at the entire picture that has been painted of the 2021 season thus far, it’d be a fair assessment to surmise that Hurts has failed to decisively ‘grab the reins’ in the words of Howie Roseman.
However, is it fair to say that inconsistencies should have been expected once you truly begin to analyze the situation as a whole?
From Hurts’ perspective, he was given a new offensive system, along with a new head coach and offensive coordinator (his 7th in 6 seasons dating back to college). It’s his first year as a full-time starter. And also, don’t forget that the organization has stockpiled draft capital to replace him if need be.
It’d be a daunting task for anyone. A true make-or-break season and in Philadelphia, every drop-back makes or breaks the career of the Eagles starting quarterback (whoever he may be at any given time).
Hurts has been asked to be great almost instantly. The latitude for Hurts to truly develop as a passer has been almost non-existent. There hasn’t been any room for the peaks and valleys.
In the current age of social media, every missed throw is replayed ad-nauseam. Every missed read is amplified. Every decision is scrutinized. Every dropback is a referendum on the current and future standing at the quarterback position.
In the NFL, perception and stigmas are everything. Perception is reality. The league is known as a ‘copycat league’ for a reason. We’ve seen countless examples of narratives attached to players and those narratives being impossible to break away from for those players.
Those same perceptions and narratives present adversity. Adversity that can either be conquered or succumbed to.
Hurts is no stranger to adversity or narratives. Look no further than his college career and the rollercoaster of a situation it was.
From being the first freshman to start at quarterback in 32 years for Alabama, to being benched in the national championship, to staying and redeeming himself in the 2018 SEC championship game, to transferring to Oklahoma and dispeling questions about his accuracy and ability as a passer.
People say chips and all that, I say boulders.Jalen Hurts
Hurts finds himself as the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles with 4 division games and a spot in the playoffs remaining.
Hurts has always been able to rise to the occasion when the stakes are at their highest. And in the current situation, they couldn’t be any higher.
As fair or unfair as it may be, Hurts’ has arrived at a crossroads in his young career. In all likelihood, these next 4 games will write the book on the type of quarterback, not only the Philadelphia Eagles organization but the NFL world as a whole, views him as.
In a year where seemingly everything is on the line for Hurts, will he once again stand in the face of adversity and overcome it?
We’re about to find out.
Photo Credit: icon Sportswire