You’d be hard-pressed to walk around the City of Philadelphia and find an Eagles fan who doesn’t want Jalen Hurts to succeed. But when it comes to views on where he is at currently and where he could realistically go, those questions will yield a myriad of fiery answers. The unfortunate truth here is that for whatever reason, Jalen Hurts has been the man that an entire city has bet behind, and as a result, every microscopic change will either be adored or critiqued.
The D.Gunn Report
One person said let me give you a scenario of what he went through in one day of practice. It was a ten-play scenario. He had three picks, four incompletions, and three sacks.”
Luckily for Gunn, Philadelphia sports fans proved to be calm, and reasonable people.
It’s easy to look at this report and question its legitimacy. Gunn was previously a reporter many held to a very high standard due to his credible reporting and wholesome player relationships. In the dead of the offseason, without a huge media outlet, it would be very easy to see why a report would be fabricated. It’s even more confusing when you think back to how much praise Hurts was showered with during the practices that media did attend during OTA’s. Something’s not adding up.
On the contrary, we know that OTA’s are a controlled environment and the media attended a cherry-picked selection of practices. It is absolutely possible that those practices were designed to elevate offensive play, rather than defensive play. 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are often built to create scenarios that will emphasize a certain point for a position group. Could the media have seen QB friendly practices? Could Hurts have had an off day? It’s possible.
Regardless of whether this report is true, false, or somewhere in between, the reaction from the fanbase was one of aggressive defense of their beloved QB. But there in-lies the real issue.
The Jalen Hurts paradox
Frankly, it doesn’t matter what Jalen Hurts does, it will elicit a very vocal response. He could throw a single 4-yard completion and somehow, somewhere, cries for an MVP award and a Super Bowl run would bellow into the sky.
He could throw a single interception and Howie Roseman would see an orange sky as fire and pitchforks marched towards the NovaCare Complex, looking to hold him accountable for drafting a terrible quarterback who can’t throw.
There is no inbetween, at least, that’s how it feels.
Try having a balanced Jalen Hurts debate on social media.
The issue, unfortunately for Jalen, is that he’s so damn likeable. He’s charismatic, charming, a vocal leader who could talk his way to the bank, and he’s objectively a very attractive man who could probably steal all of our wives in a heartbeat.
Then factor in the previous decade or so of Eagles quarterbacks. The rise, fall, and resurection of Nick Foles was as whiplash-based as anything. The rise and fall of Carson Wentz was nothing short of gut-wrenching. Sam Bradford existed.
Because of all of these factors, fans have not only bought into Hurts, but mortgaged every part of available emotional space that isn’t being attacked by the Sixers, extinguished by the Flyers, or given hope by the Phillies, onto the back of a project quarterback.
It’s not even just the fans. The Eagles have gone above and beyond to YOLO every available asset into supporting their quarterback…as they should. But they’ve signed his best friend, former teammates, and committed every available resource into the growth of Jalen Hurts…and with more than enough ammo to grab a first-round QB next year, that investment is also one that’s going to demand overly emotional reactions at every turn…because for a player who needs time, there seems to be a worrying lack of for Hurts to prove a point.
We need to find a middle ground
It is okay to acknowledge that Hurts isn’t where he needs to be yet and you should be able to do so without being labeled as a hater wishing on his downfall. It’s okay to be optimistic about Hurts and you should be able to get excited without someone mocking the copium levels being exuded on your Twitter profile with Hurts highlights and profile pictures covering most of the vacant space.
But because the emotional investment in Jalen Hurts is so high, this relationship will never be a healthy one. It’s impossible to simply ‘let the kid play’ because when he does, he’s met with an absolute barrage of social media noise and media hot takes. I for one am thankful he came form the Nick Saban school of ‘rat poison’ because the external pressure on his shoulders is imesurable, and he takes it all in his stride. His ability to do so only further raises confidence levels however, elevating that pressure even higher.
In a dream world, Hurts will eventually settle. He’ll find his base as a passer, develop in the pocket, and still provide a thunderous injection of excitement as a runner. But he’s got one season to really put his best foot forward and that isn’t lost on anyone. Because of that, every macro move is over-analysed, over-hyped, and over-sold.
As of today, Jalen Hurts is who we thought he was. A perfect candidate to lead this Eagles team, but one who needs time and patience. If we keep raising the stakes, the stars just aren’t going to align and the Rocket is going to burn out before it even reaches the clouds.
Just. Let. The. Kid. Play.
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire