Eagles Report Card: Did Jalen Hurts pass the test in week 1?

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Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) runs the ball against the Detroit Lions in the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

The Eagles put up 31 offensive points, totaled over 470 yards on offense, and had over 330 come from their Jalen Hurts. In any other city and perspective, Jalen Hurts passed his first test of the season with flying colors. In Philadelphia however, there are fans and analysts who came away disappointed in how the quarterback looked.

But Jaws’ criticism, and that of others is one that didn’t understand the complexity of the scheme that the Lions threw at him and execution around Jalen Hurts as an offensive unit.

Far too many times the quarterback has to make up for poor execution from the entire offense to make the most out of a situation. But when the quarterback does that in a way that is against what some fans may want, they still won’t be happy.

In the end, Jalen Hurts’ passed his week one test with flying colors for a number of key reasons.

Making the most of protection breakdowns

I’ll gladly join the long list of people saying that Hurts’ scrambling 17 times is far too much if the young quarterback wants to make it through a whole season. Durability is an underrated key to a quarterback.

But how many games will the Eagles offensive line have where the entire group struggles this season?

The Eagles OL struggled to pick up blitzes and communicate throughout Sunday’s contest. While people like Jaworski want Jalen Hurts to stay in the pocket, and make the quick throw, that’s exactly the type of thing that can get quarterbacks killed.

The fact that Jalen Hurts can make something out of nothing and save a bad blocking scheme is exactly why people called for him to replace Carson Wentz in 2020. In fact, the Eagles do not beat Detroit if not for Hurts improvising broken plays and getting positive gains out of it.

Hurts saved the offensive line on Sunday and even Jason Kelce acknowledged it.

Mistake-Free Football

Over 300 total yards, 30 points and no turnovers.

Usually, that is a statsheet that is widely touted as an excellent day from any quarterback. Jalen Hurts should be no exception. The third-year starter threw for over 240 yards, and didn’t put his team in harms way against a scrappy Lions team.

People will argue that they want to see more touchdown passes, but in a goalline situation, with one of the best run-blocking offensive lines in football, why would you even consider throwing it?

For Jalen Hurts, all these analysts want to see improvements in arm strength and decision making, but part of that is taking care of the football.

Hurts did exactly that in week one.

Decision Making Improvements

This part can absolutely be given to AJ Brown as well. Eagle fans have been critiquing Jalen Hurts’ play on Sunday because he didn’t get the ball to other receivers outside of his first read.

While Hurts will need to show his ability to do so later on in the season with better line play, week one didn’t call for that.

And that’s ok. A quarterback’s job is to put his team in a position to win. If the first read is always open, then that’s on the defense for taking it away. The Lions didn’t do that on Sunday, and Hurts should not be criticized for taking what the defense gives him.

AJ Brown caught 10 passes for over 150 yards. While people have complained about the lack of touches for Devonta Smith on Sunday, the answer should be quite simple:

Who cares about stats?

AJ Brown was open all game. The Lions couldn’t stop him. Jalen Hurts should not force the ball to other weapons on the offense to make everyone happy when the smart play is wide open.

Improved Accuracy

On paper, Jalen Hurts wasn’t very accurate. 18-32 passing with a completion percentage of 56% is very pedestrian. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

While Hurts made numerous plays with his legs after protection breakdowns, he also threw the ball away when in trouble to save the offense for another play or series. That alone is improved decision making instead of forcing something that isn’t there.

But even on rythym completions, Hurts showed improved arm strength and overall accuracy.

The first one to AJ Brown showed off an improved zip on his throw and hit Brown right where he needed to.

Then there’s this one to Brown again where he goes away from his body but still is able to get enough on it to Brown. This is an open receiver that Hurts is making the decision to throw to.

And finally:

Showing off the deep arm strength while also throwing a receiver open. Solid anticipation, accuracy and arm strength.

These are just three throws throughout the contest that Hurts made to set up goalline scores. They also show that the 56% completion percentage doesn’t tell the whole story on the kind of day Hurts had.

Throwing passes away counts to a decreased completion percentage. Starting 0-5 does as well. If you take out Hurts’ slow start where he had to throw passes away because of poor protection, and a drop from Smith, his completion percentage skyrockets to 66%.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story.

But going back and watching the film does. Hurts was very accurate on Sunday.

It’s really easy to say thatthe Eagles should feel worse off after one game this season. The defense was extremely bad, the offensive line had more leaks than a NYC apartment, and the coaching staff didn’t look like they had the team ready to play on time.

But the negative outlook cannot be extended to Hurts. The Eagles quarterback looked every bit the part of a true franchise quarterback on Sunday, and if he continues to improve and show out on gameday, will be in line for a long extension.

AP Photo/Duane Burleson

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