What does Jalen Hurts need to do in 2022 to keep his QB spot?

Jalen Hurts
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts (1) throws a pass in the first half during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Those outside the organization are quick to label Jalen Hurts’ upcoming season as a make-or-break opportunity to cement himself as QB1 of the future in Philadelphia. Without question, with an impressive class of quarterbacks, and two first-round selections, the Eagles will have every opportunity to shift course before 2023. However, the parameters for what would define a successful season for Hurts are all over the map. Should his progress be defined by stats alone, or do tallies in the win column — especially in December — matter more? Is success something that we see solely out on the field, or does the impression he makes in the locker room play a factor? We asked some of our writers what they thought:

Nick Faria – Success is Defined in the Playoffs.

What does Jalen Hurts have to do to get another year in Philadelphia?

Depending on who you ask, Hurts has to go undefeated, never throw a pick, and win the Super Bowl by 25.

In reality, the Eagles need to be patient regardless of what happens in 2022. Quarterbacks do not just develop overnight. Donovan McNabb took three years to develop into a top passer in the game. Peyton Manning took five. Josh Allen, widely considered a top-three quarterback in the league, only became a dominant passer once Stefon Diggs came into the fold.

In my opinion, numbers won’t tell the whole story. It’s easy to say Hurts needs to total over 30 touchdowns, and 4,000 yards. But if the team is 10-1 and Hurts has only played point guard for the first half – who cares what his numbers are?

The barometer for Hurts should be playoff success. Randall Cunningham was seen as a god in this city but won one playoff game in this town. Donovan McNabb is vilified for losing playoff games, but he also won nine of them.

To me, a playoff appearance is the floor this year for the Eagles. They are too stacked to not make the playoffs. For Hurts to get another year as the Eagles starting quarterback, he needs to win 1-2 playoff games. Regular season numbers don’t really matter to me if they keep winning, but if he leads the Eagles to a playoff win, or god forbid an NFC Title Game appearance, that all but locks up Hurts’ continued growth and development. And him improving every year will only help when he enters his prime.

For further analysis of the QB position from Nick Faria:

Colin Newby – Pass Happy, Front Office Happy.

The 2021 season was a success for the Oklahoma product, who was able to help an imperfect roster recover from a 2-5 start and earn a postseason berth. If he replicates the same effort in 2022, improvement at other positions might help the Eagles continue their progress under Nick Sirianni with an NFC East championship or a playoff victory. However, it wouldn’t help Hurts keep his job in 2023.

It’s a poorly kept secret that Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman want to build a high-flying passing attack. Their mission to rejoin the NFL’s elite teams will include upgrading the most critical position in the sport unless Hurts takes an emphatic leap in the passing game.

It’s possible to win with a quarterback who finished 21st in the NFL in passing yards and threw less than half the amount of touchdown passes as the top nine quarterbacks in the league like Hurts did in 2021. However, relying on a rushing attack to compensate for a quarterback’s shortcomings doesn’t align with the organization’s philosophy. In order for Hurts to have a successful 2022, Sirianni and the Eagles need to be able to count on him down the stretch to make plays in the passing game as the focal point of their offense in a way that simply wasn’t true last season.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates his touchdown during the game between the Washington Football Team and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 21, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Ethan Rappleye – A Decision Made on Decision Making.

I don’t think there’s a specific statistic that Jalen needs to hit this year for it to be considered a success. The main thing for me is to see wins and improvement in key areas that he was lackluster in last year. The quick decisions and timing of his throws is the most important aspect of his game that I would really like to “fix” in a statistical sense.

In 2021, the young QB ranked dead last of all qualified starting quarterbacks in snap to throw time, at 2.7 seconds, per Pro-Football-Reference. In comparison, the top quarterbacks in the league; Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, were all listed at 2.3 seconds or under. While this .4 seconds might seem miniscule in theory, it is the difference between hitting a streaking receiver in stride for a touchdown or taking a devastating forced fumble. Some of this you would hope would improve based on his ability to read defenses better since he is just more experienced but I would like to see him reduce this number to around 2.4.

The regular counting stats don’t mean as much to me because there’s such a high variance for what success can look like for him. If he throws for 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns because the Eagles are always behind and they don’t win games, no one is going to be impressed. However, if he hits 3,200 yards but rushes for 900 and the Eagles are a premier team in the NFL, I would be convinced of his ability to lead you into the future.

Bryan Cameron – Proof is in the Progress.

Jalen Hurts is up against an extremely long measuring stick in just his second year as a full-time starter. Fortunately, the odds are in favor of Hurts with this being his second year in with the same coaching staff. Add in the acquisition of AJ Brown and he could potentially be in line for an incredible season.

The two things that Jalen has to improve on his is accuracy and timing. If he can get that down pat and throw for 25+ touchdowns while limiting his interceptions to below 10, then there’s no way that the Eagles move on from the young QB. As long as he shows signs of moving forward as opposed to his predecessor, Carson Wentz, who moved backward then Jalen could be the guy for the Eagles for a long time

Morgan Burkett – Win in the Division, Period.

While there are many areas of improvement that would signal significant progress in Jalen Hurts’ individual game — limiting negative plays, remaining calm in the pocket, improving as a deep passer and reading the middle of the field, for starters — a successful season will be entirely defined by what he can help the team accomplish. From a time before anyone can remember, successful quarterbacks have been synonymous with winning their divisions; and not simply winning their divisions, but winning in their divisions.

The major hurdle will be Dallas, who laid a smackdown on the Eagles twice last season, although the second game was a meaningless battle between starters and third-stringers. Still, Jerry Jones knows what he’s doing. In today’s NFL you have to send a message to your division opponents. The Giants are a long way off, but still house an impressive offense on paper if Daniel Jones can figure it out. Plus, they had front-row seats to the worst game of Jalen Hurts’ career. The Commanders are a wild card, but their defense is likely to bounce back after an off year, and Eagles fans know better than most what Carson Wentz is capable of if he can keep the throttle steady.

When it’s all said and done, to remain the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jalen Hurts will need to beat the teams in the NFC East and do so convincingly. I would argue that anything outside of one loss to Dallas would be the nail in the coffin. For the future, that means the Eagles can all but guarantee their spot in the playoffs year in and year out.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire