There’s no more important position in sports than an NFL quarterback. He touches the ball every play. His every word is taken to heart.
He needs a combination of talent, competitiveness and leadership.
Jalen Hurts was drafted by the Eagles in 2020, the 53rd player taken. He has enormous physical skills, which are prominently on display every week. However, I’m more impressed with his leadership skills.
I don’t think you get the Hurts physical skills without the Hurts intangibles. They are intertwined. One feeds off the other.
With Hurts, there are no public theatrics, no air-guitar playing. He is all business. He accepts blame. He doesn’t point fingers. He talks about a united team that is striving to improve, wanting “to play to the standard.”
The Hurts you see in interviews appears to be who he is. The 24-year-old is measured in his words, calm, confident and always striving for perfection.
- “Perfection is something that will never be caught, but why not chase the golden standard?” Hurts said after the Eagles defeated the Colts, 17-16, on Sunday. “It’s something we chase every day.”
MEANWHILE AT THE MEADOWLANDS
The timing of this article is not accidental. Up in North Jersey, the Jets are in turmoil over a comment from second-year quarterback Zach Wilson.
The Jets lost to the Patriots, 10-3, on Sunday, on an 84-yard punt return with five seconds to play. The Jets had two net yards in the second half and only 103 total for the game.
Wilson completed 9-of-22 passes for 77 yards — 4-of-11 for 17 yards in the second half. Jets coach Robert Saleh called the team’s second-half offense “dog bleep,” and indicated the Jets weren’t running the ball very well, either.
Wilson was asked if the offense bore any responsibility for the loss.
“No. No,” Wilson said emphatically.
What game was he playing in his head? No responsibility?
Wilson was the second overall pick in the 2021 draft. His career has been pretty average, to be polite. He has completed a mediocre 55.6 percent of his passes in 2021 and so far this season. He has 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Those numbers normally get a quarterback an appointment with a clipboard on the sideline.
Jets beat reporter Rich Cimini tweeted this Monday morning:
Hearing this morning there’s a lot of raw feelings among #Jets defensive players. Clearly, Zach Wilson’s post-game accountability (or lack thereof) didn’t sit well.
This chaos isn’t coming from a 2-8 team going nowhere. The Jets are 6-4, right in the playoff mix. The Jets haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010. Saleh even hinted at a quarterback change this week.
By definition, quarterbacks are team leaders — or should be. Wilson not accepting responsibility is the quickest way to lose the locker room, not to mention your job.
Can you imagine, for one second, Hurts taking this approach? I cannot.
WENTZ WAS AN ISSUE
Hurts strikes me as a guy other players will go to the wall for. Where he leads, they will follow.
How much success does that guarantee? It’s unknown. But players would rather go to battle with a leader they respect and trust than someone who won’t take on responsibility.
Wilson comes off as this: When we win, it’s because of me. When we lose, it’s not my fault.
Carson Wentz went from *the* franchise quarterback to getting traded. Wentz failed in Philadelphia for a number of reasons and his lack of leadership was among them. True or not, that was the perception.
In March, the Inquirer reported that the Eagles believed Wentz “struggled with accountability” and thought that the situation “revealed character defects.”
Another damning report from the Inquirer said that during the Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl, an injured Wentz “voiced his displeasure about the team’s success without him,” to a group of other injured players.
Who does this? Was Wentz actually cheering *against* his own team?
Wentz is in Philly’s rear-view mirror. Everyone is happy about that. What’s revealing about Wentz and Wilson’s behavior is that it makes you think about Hurts and how a quarterback’s behavior can affect their team.
If you’re an Eagles fan, you’re quite pleased Hurts is on your side.
I wondered how the Eagles would bounce back from a disheartening loss to Washington. They had a short week, a road game and a decent opponent in the Colts.
Would they fold? Would they regain their stature? In these situations, you need your leaders to carry their team through any lingering doubts.
- “In the end, it’s about how we respond,” Hurts said. “How do we respond to the feeling of joy? How do we respond to the feeling of pain?
- “I’ve got a good feeling about how we’ll respond.”
Did the Eagles draft Hurts thinking he was a potential Super Bowl quarterback? Maybe.
Fifty-two players were picked before Hurts in the draft. If he were a sure-fire Super Bowl quarterback, don’t you think someone would have grabbed him before the Eagles?
On the field, Hurts has exceeded what the Eagles thought they were getting when they drafted him.
Off the field, Hurts is giving the Eagles way more than they ever could have imagined.
I wonder if the Jets feel the same way about their franchise quarterback?