We saw Jalen Hurts improve through the 2021 season. He had his moments, good and bad.
When he was good, the potential was obvious. You could see a long future with the Eagles.
When he was bad, you wondered if he would ever be a starting NFL quarterback. Arm strength, decision-making and passing accuracy were legitimate concerns. The NFL is interested in potential but demands success.
After the 9-8 wild card season in 2021, Hurts’ arduous offseason regiment arrived and, in March, so did his buddy, A.J. Brown. Since Brown joined the Eagles, Hurts has played like an All-Pro. So has Brown.
Hurts answered the skeptics and is line to win a Super Bowl and earn one of the league’s biggest contracts.
The cause-and-effect here isn’t simply Brown. Hurts trended toward improvement and there was plenty on which to improve. But Hurts having a world-class wide receiver to throw to clearly has added additional layers to his game.
Hurts and Brown have known each other since high school when they met on the recruiting circuit. Brown went to Ole Miss while Hurts went to Alabama. The quarterback and wide receiver remained tight through their college days.
- “Since I was a freshman in college, I was always talking to [A.J. Brown] about ball,” Hurts said at a Super Bowl news conference.
- “Always having these conversations and building our football IQ, I think it’s always been something that’s been building.
- “When the rubber hit the road, it went smooth. Him coming to Philly, us having the opportunity to play together, I think it all happened naturally, it was all organic.
- “We hit the ground rolling and hopefully we can do that for years to come. He’s a big-time player and same goes for Smitty [DeVonta Smith].
- “When we [Hurts and Smith] had our time at Alabama, we had a little connection there. Getting him to come to Philly, that was icing on the cake.”
Besides Eagles fans, the benefactor of Hurts’ growth is his coach, Nick Sirianni. When training camp started, Hurts was only 23 years old and into his hands Sirianni placed the offense.
One of Hurts’ most impressive qualities is his maturity, work-ethic and desire to win. Sirianni was confident in Hurts.
- “I think that’s just who he is,” Sirianni said. “Regardless of his age, that’s just who he is as a competitor, as a player.
- “I guess it’s rare in the fact that — I see it everyday, I mean, I witness it everyday of him just not being caught up in any moment, and that speaks to who he is, how he was raised, and that he’s steady.
- “So, it’s impressive to see, but that’s what I’m accustomed to with Jalen, and he’s the same guy every day.”
THE CORE FOUR
Sirianni talked about his veteran linemen — four guys on the 2017 Super Bowl team — Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox.
- “Those guys are phenomenal leaders,” Sirianni said. “They lead the way, not only in the standard of how to practice, how to meet, how to be a pro, how to take care of your body.
- “This is unbelievable for a guy to have Jason Kelce for Cam Jurgens, that’s such an important thing for Cam and his development. And it’s the same thing for Jordan Davis with Fletcher Cox.
- “Got good leaders. Got good captains on this team leading the way.”
HISTORY FOR DEVONTA SMITH?
If the Eagles defeat the Chiefs, DeVonta Smith would become the fifth player to win the college football national championship, Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl.
THE IMPRESSIVE LIST:
- Charles Woodson, Michigan and Packers
- Marcus Allen, Southern California and Raiders
- Reggie Bush, Southern California and Saints
- Tony Dorsett, Pitt and Cowboys