It’s laughable now, the talk back in the summer — NFL experts and skeptics openly questioning Jalen Hurts’ ability.
Back in the summer, legitimate questions could be asked about Hurts. He had only 19 NFL starts. In some of those games, he was inconsistent. At times, he looked like an inexperienced guy trying to learn his craft under live and adverse conditions.
The Eagles came into training camp the proud owner of New Orleans’ first-round draft pick plus their own. So, the Eagles had a fallback position should Hurts not work out. Hurts not working out was a possibility.
Would the Eagles have to burn their extra first-round draft pick on a new quarterback? Was Hurts going to be relegated to a back-up role either with the Eagles or elsewhere?
That talk seems preposterous now.
- “I carry my scars with me everywhere I go,” Hurts said after the Eagles destroyed the Giants, 48-22, on Sunday. “I don’t forget.
- “Do I waste my energy worrying about the opinion of someone else? Opinion of a sheep? No.
- “But I truly invest my focus in me getting better as a player, getting better as a quarterback and doing the things I need to do for my team. Everybody and their opinion don’t deposit at the bank.”
Hurts was MVP-brilliant against the host Giants, a possible playoff team. The victory clinched a playoff spot for the Eagles and improved their record to 12-1.
Last season, the Eagles were 9-8. Quite the improvement. The defense has improved greatly and Hurts and the offense are a scoring machine. They were second in the NFL in scoring before posting the 48 on Sunday.
Each week, Hurts does the remarkable and the mundane with equal brilliance. He puts up extraordinary numbers, staggering in their whole, a devastating mix of running and passing.
And Hurts runs this diversified offense with the apparent calmness of anyone who has ever played the position.
- “I felt like Jalen was just in complete control,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said about Hurts’ performance against the Giants.
- “There was a play that he gets Miles [Sanders] on the sideline on a check-down where he didn’t force anything.
- “The defense dictated where the ball went, he took it to Miles and we got 8 yards off that which I thought was an awesome play.”
HASN’T PLAYED A BAD GAME
Every week the Eagles have played to a standard — one of Hurts’ favorite phrases. He hasn’t played a bad game this season.
Think about that: At the sport’s most difficult and pressure-filled position, Hurts hasn’t played a bad game. He’s performed as well as anyone in the league.
And every week we ask:
- Are the Eagles this good? Really?
- Is Hurts this good? Really?
I don’t know how large of a sample size is required to determine a quarterback’s quality and tier-level. Thirteen games isn’t a career, but Hurts’ career curve looks as if there’s more ceiling than floor.
TORCHED THE JETS
Remember the first preseason game against the Jets back in August? This was the first time we saw Hurts since last season’s playoff loss to Tampa.
Throughout the offseason and camp, Eagles coaches and players steadfastly insisted that Hurts’ game had improved dramatically.
We didn’t know if it was happy talk, or bro talk — teammates supporting their guy. Days before the Jets’ game, there were reports that Hurts had a “poor practice performance.”
This being the Eagles, anxiety ruled the day. We talkin’ about practice, right? Non-contact practice? Still, doubts surfaced from people predisposed to mistrust Hurts.
Hurts’ performance against the Jets started to change minds. He was 6-of-6 passing for 80 yards and a touchdown. He also quickly bounced to his feet after absorbing a cheap shot as he ran out of bounds.
Hurts looked like Peyton Manning out there — making precise decisions and throws. But it was the preseason, against a Jets team coming off a 4-13 season.
So, did Hurts’ performance prove anything? We still weren’t sure.
Hurts did not play another snap in the preseason. No one outside of the team knew about the tsunami that Hurts and the Eagles were about to impose on the league.
In the season opener against Detroit, Hurts was 18-of-32 for 243 yards, plus 90 rushing yards. The Eagles hung on to win, 38-35, in a tough, physical game.
Hurts’ improvement was obvious. His connection with A.J. Brown, a game-changing wide receiver, gave him more options. Brown caught 10 balls that day and has 1,000 receiving yards on the season.
- “Literally, I try to just stay true to myself, stay true to my teammates and chase that growth alongside with them,” Hurts said.
Hurts is racking up unprecedented statistics. He has rushed for 686 yards in 139 attempts with 10 touchdowns. He has completed 264-of-388 passes (68 percent) for 3,157 yards and 22 touchdowns.
- “We’re trying to grow,” Hurts said. “Try to go out here and execute. It’s good that we’re prepared in a way to execute at a high level.”
Hurts and the Eagles are playing at a level rarely seen. The skeptical boys of summer have struck out.