PHILADELPHIA- Jalen Hurts has reinvented himself this season.
Following an offseason in which his status as a franchise quarterback was questioned daily, Jalen Hurts has virtually silenced his critics with his play this season.
Through eight starts, Hurts’ 2368 total yards is the third-highest total in the NFL. Additionally, despite only carrying the ball twice in the blowout win against the Steelers, Hurts’ 326 rushing yards this season is top five among quarterbacks.
Once considered an afterthought when discussing the best quarterbacks in the league, Hurts has now placed himself firmly in the conversation.
“(He is) the epitome of what a Philadelphia athlete is,” longtime Eagle Jason Kelce said. “He’s the ultimate underdog, and this city loves underdogs.”
Behind the strong play of their quarterback, the Eagles jumped out to a red-hot 8-0 start to the season.
Each week, Jalen Hurts’ stock continues to rise, and the former Heisman award runner-up has even begun drawing MVP consideration.
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. I’ve seen the growth,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said of Hurts. “We talk about this so much with Jalen. Why is he going to continue to reach his ceiling? Because he’s tough, he has a high football character, and he loves football. He’s going to reach his ceiling. It’s fun watching him grow.”
Jalen Hurts continues to improve
One of the reasons Hurts has taken such a large leap this season is his improvement as a passer.
Through eight games, his completion percentage (68.2%) is the sixth highest among qualified quarterbacks. Hurts’ completion percentage is currently higher than Patrick Mahomes (66.9%), Justin Herbert (65.9%), and Josh Allen (65.5%), who are all widely regarded as elite passers.
Additionally, his current completion percentage is over seven percentage points higher than last season (61.1%), which is a testament to the work Hurts put in this offseason.
“Hurts is always thinking about football. We’re always talking football day in and day out, and he’s continuing to grow as a player and as a leader every day. Going into year two in the system, as I said, the communication has been great with him in meetings.
Now that he has over 25 starts under his belt, the Eagles are able to expand the playbook with Hurts.
“We’re not starting from scratch anymore,” Steichen said. I feel really good where he’s at right now, and we’re continuing to work on that.”
Hurts entered the league as arguably the most physically gifted quarterback in his class. He knew that if he were to thrive in the NFL, though, he would need to master the mental element of the game.
In Year 3, it appears Hurts is fully adjusted to the NFL tempo.
“You can see things are starting to slow down [for him],” Sirianni said of Hurts following a Week 2 win over Minnesota.
“He’s put in so much work,” Sirianni said. “We [the Eagles] talk about getting better every day and he lives that. That’s why we are seeing such major improvements.”
During games, one can see that Hurts is in full control behind the line. He’s scanning the defense for flaws, going through his progressions once he drops back, and delivering strong, accurate throws on a regular basis.
Last Sunday, Hurts became the first quarterback since Dolphins legend Dan Marino to throw four touchdown passes of 20+ yards in one game.
Hurts has also been incredibly protective of the football and rarely turns the ball over.
So far this season, Jalen Hurts averages one turnover per 138 touches. This is a stark improvement from his one turnover per 53 touches pace a season ago.
Furthermore, Hurts boasts a ratio of one interception per 92 pass attempts. At his current pace, he will become the eighth QB in history to throw 500 passes and throw fewer than six interceptions.
After enduring an offseason of questioning his validity as a franchise quarterback, Jalen Hurts has cemented himself as the future in Philadelphia.
He has earned the trust of both his teammates and coaching staff and has the team primed for a deep postseason run.
Jalen Hurts very well could win the MVP award at season’s end, but I believe it is the Most Improved Player award that he should be a lock for.
Much like how Ja Morant experienced a meteoric rise in Year 3, in which he challenged for MVP but ultimately won the Most Improved Player award, I think Jalen Hurts deserves praise on his way toward stardom.
Knowing Hurts, though, he won’t lose sleep over whether he wins an award. For Jalen Hurts, the only focus is to win ball games and get better each day.
“I try to keep the same mindset with everything,” Hurts said of the increased media attention he’s received this season. “I enjoy everything that comes with it [being in the MVP race] but I try to stay true to myself and who I am to this team.”
Formal accolades or not, Jalen Hurts deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his maturation as a player.
Behind his improved play, the sky is the limit for the Eagles this season.
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire