Around here, Jalen Hurts is a Philly guy. Being the Eagles’ starting and successful quarterback makes him one of the city’s favorite sons — non-Phillies, of course.
Philadelphia has adopted Hurts, supported him and cheered him on as he’s led the Eagles to an NFL-best 7-0 record.
On Thursday night, Hurts will be playing in his hometown, Houston, where we strongly suspect he is a bit of a celebrity, too.
Hurts and the Eagles visit the Texans, a matchup between one of the best teams in the league, and one of the worst. This is the first time the Eagles have played in Houston since Nov. 2, 2014.
Hurts gets to check off a box on his to-do list. He’s never played in NRG Stadium.
- “Going back to Houston should be fun,” Hurts said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play in NRG, Reliant Stadium.
- “I’ve spent a lot of time in that city, my childhood, growing up in Houston, going to watch the Texans play, being in the Texans’ facility as a kid, going to watch high school playoff games in that stadium and not having the opportunity to ever play in it.
- “I have the opportunity this week and I’m looking forward to it.”
Hurts said he has been in the stadium many times. His godfather, Sean Washington, was the Texans’ director of player development. Hurts remembers receiver Andre Johnson giving him cleats.
- “I’d go to youth camps there,” Hurts said. “I’d go to minicamp, and OTAs sometimes.
- “It was just an experience for me to be around the game and be around professionals. I was always around high school athletes but being around professionals …
- “Having stories like that, playing against J.J. Watt now, but going to see him practice as a kid coming up. It’s all fond memories. It’s a part of my childhood.”
CONTROLLING THE POSITION
While becoming a Philly favorite, Hurts has to conquer the demanding and stressful job of NFL quarterback — especially in this city.
It’s tricky terrain Hurts navigates as a 24-year-old with only 26 NFL starts.
- “I’ve been through a ton of different things, a ton of different experiences,” Hurts said. “I’ve always felt like I was born for the storm, built to overcome anything in front of me. That’s the mentality that I have.
- “I always preach never getting too high, never getting too low and just keeping the main thing, the main thing.
- “I had a little bit of a reflection the other day because I’m thinking about when you tell someone to be patient … Be patient, it’s coming. Be patient, your play is coming. Be patient, whatever.
- “I’m a living testimony of that … Control the things that I can. Attack every day.”
Hurts emphasized his approach for the Texans game is all business. This will be the Eagles’ first game this season on a short week. He was asked what is more difficult — physically recovering from Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh or game-planning for the Texans.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” Hurts said. “You have a shorter week as a whole. You have a shorter time to think about things. You have shorter time to recover.
“It’s a so-what, now-what mentality. It is what it is.
“While it is exciting [going home], my process doesn’t change. My mentality doesn’t change. Every week is a business trip. That’s how I’m treating this week. Nothing changes.”
Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen says don’t worry about Hurts.
“Nothing has changed. His preparation, his focus, he’s always locked in,” Steichen said.
“He’s been awesome in meetings. Obviously, the big part is the preparation, like it is every week, but on a short week especially the mental part of it, being locked into the game plan and what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
LOOKING UP TO HURTS
Hurts will return home as a local hero — college star at Alabama and Oklahoma and now one of the NFL’s breakout stars. He knows kids look up to him, just as he did growing up and paying close attention to college and NFL stars.
- “It was definitely Vince Young,” Hurts said about players he admired as a kid. “I watched Steve McNair a lot. But Vince Young. Watching him at Texas, watching him, hearing the name around Houston and playing at Houston Madison [High]. It was him.
- “He’s a helluva player. Did great things at all levels. He’s definitely a legend in the city of Houston.
- “That was before my time but hearing my dad talk about him [McNair], hearing my peers talk about him. I always kinda kept track of him. Then, Houston and the Titans [McNair’s team] are in the same division, so I got to see him play at the Titans, too.
- “He was an all-around quarterback. Rest in peace to him. Being able to move around in the pocket, throw the ball, tough to bring down. Had a lot of respect for him. I loved his game.”
All around Houston, kids now have a game and a name to look up to — Jalen Hurts.
In Philly, too.