The future of Jalen Hurts is as unclear as it was at the beginning of the season

NFL: OCT 14 Buccaneers at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 14: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) exits the field after the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles on October 14, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles were never expected to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but fans were certainly not ready to see the team fall apart at the seams when it mattered most. When all was said and done, Jalen Hurts left the field having summarized his season perfectly, by playing imperfectly.

Over the past few weeks, fans had been treated to a quarterback who could take advantage of weakened defenses and do so with ease. Hurts didn’t need to throw the ball much because he had a rushing juggernaut behind him and was as much a part of that machine as Miles Sanders or Jordan Howard. In his last 3 games, Hurts completed 66% of passes, threw a 3-1 TD/INT ratio, and rushed for 89 yards and a further two touchdowns.

However, in games against defenses that really tested him, he struggled. Tampa Bay was no exception. Hurts looked skittish in the pocket, lacked touch on deep balls, and struggled to deliver a consistently well-timed pass to his receivers, often leaving them to do all the work, adjusting mid-air or mid-route to come back and find an underthrown wobbler. Jalen Hurts is ultimately who we thought he was…and that’s okay depending on who you ask.

Hurts completed 23 of 43 passes yesterday for a measly 258 yards, one touchdown, and two picks, adding just 39 yards on the ground.

Hurts has shown all the leadership qualities you could ever dream of this season. He has an old head on some very young shoulders and can clearly galvanize a locker room. Sprinkle in some of the most lethal rushing traits found at the quarterback position in the last decade and it’s hard not to fall in love. But as a passer, he’s still fundamentally raw.

There have been times where growth has been visible and his deep balls have appeared accurate, but when the waters get deep and Hurts has to deliver them, it’s a struggle to swim to safety. We all knew that Hurts was a raw passing prospect and coming into what was always going to be a transitional year, his slow development shouldn’t come as a surprise.

What the front office needed to see was enough evidence that Hurts can take those next steps as a passer. Howie Roseman wants to win playoff games and that was a driving factor in the Carson Wentz trade. Has Hurts shown enough over a full season to convince the front office that he can eventually become that quarterback, and can he do so in a timeframe that converges with the overall direction of the team as opposed to holding it back?

At the beginning of the year, there was one objective in mind: See what you have in Jalen Hurts. If he’s not up to scratch, there’s a lovely bucket of three first-round picks that can be used to find someone who is. If he can play the part of a franchise QB, those three picks can surround him with franchise talent.

The fact you can make an argument on both sides says a lot. It’s easy to root for Jalen Hurts and his skillset is truly unique. The question isn’t whether or not he’s an electric playmaker with some swagger and a lovable personality, it’s whether he can single-handedly win you football games.

Ultimately, the only people who can answer that question are in the Eagles’ front office. But if the conclusion on Jalen Hurts is inconclusive, that may be all a GM who is hardly gun-shy when it comes to aggressive moves needs to hear.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire

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