From a good football player to an MVP candidate, quarterback Jalen Hurts has taken Philadelphia, and the remainder of the NFL on a ride this year. A ride that has taken the Eagles through a 14-3 season all the way to Super Bowl LVII.
The 24-year-old’s success has been built on failure, doubt, determination, and persistence. And though the end is far from over, he’s been on one hell of a journey.
THE RISE OF JALEN HURTS
With his father as coach, Hurts was a four-star recruit, becoming one of the top-ranked dual-threat quarterbacks in high school. Committing to Alabama, he became the first true freshman to start in 32 years.
Setting multiple single-season records, Hurts finished with 2,780 passing yards and 23 touchdowns for a 139.12 quarterback rating. He also rushed for 954 yards and 13 touchdowns, finishing a 12-0 season. Hurts was declared among the nation’s top college quarterbacks, earning recognition throughout the SEC.
Despite going 11-1 the following season, he fell behind in the National Championship game, and the move cost him. Alabama benched Hurts for (now Miami Dolphins’ quarterback) Tua Tagovailoa. Completing 2,081 passing yards, 855 rushing yards, and 25 total touchdowns, Hurts stepped into the backup role. But, in an upswing of his collegiate rollercoaster, he relieved injured Tagovailoa during the 2018 Championship Game, leading Alabama to victory.
To combat the unknown, Hurts transferred to Oklahoma for his final year of eligibility. In his most successful season, he recorded 3,851 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns, 1,298 rushing yards, and 20 rushing touchdowns. He finished second for the Heisman Trophy.
Entering the NFL draft, the Eagles selected Hurts with the 53rd overall pick, catching many off guard since Philadelphia already had their franchise quarterback.
“My first year here [people] probably didn’t even want [me drafted] here. It was probably one of those things. But it always handles itself. It was a big surprise to many. My favorite [Bible] verse, I went through a lot of stuff in college and it kind of stuck with me, John 13:7: ‘You may not know now but later you’ll understand.’ Hopefully people understand.”
Intended as an insurance policy, little did the Eagles know they would have to cash in rather soon. After Philadelphia used Hurts in dual-quarterback plays, he earned the starting position when Carson Wentz was benched.
Setting an initial spark in 2020, Hurts kept the fire burning in 2021, but it didn’t come without problems. The quarterback had trouble throwing in the pocket, becoming inaccurate and losing key offensive plays.
With the most draft selections in 2022, many thought Howie Roseman would set out for another alternative. Instead, he built around Hurts — crafting what might be the best team in franchise history.
THE JOB’S NOT DONE
After an extremely focused offseason came to an end, Hurts led the Eagles to an 8-0 start before Philadelphia lost their first 2022 season game to the Washington Commanders. Despite the noise that the Birds didn’t play any real contenders, Hurts accomplished five more consecutive wins before suffering a shoulder injury, resulting in two missed games.
He returned in Week 18, finishing the season with one final victory, going 14-1 as a starter.
In 15 games, Hurts completed 3,701 passing yards and 22 pass touchdowns with a 101.6 quarterback rating. He also rushed for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns, becoming the only player in NFL history to finish with those stats, all while having less than ten interceptions (six) in a single season.
But, his monumental season hasn’t been just wins. Hurts was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September, FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week in Week 3, and NFC Offensive Player of the Week 12. He was also selected to his first Pro Bowl and named Second-Team All-Pro. Additionally, the young quarterback is a nominee for Offensive Player of the Year and an MVP finalist.
Securing the No. 1 seed, Hurts made it to his first career playoff game in the postseason. With a win against the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers, he is now headed to Super Bowl LVII.
“I don’t really know how to feel, to be honest. You work really hard to put yourself in this position and I’m forever grateful. Only God knows the things that each individual on this team has been able to overcome for us to come together as a team and do something special as a group. That’s what means the most. I always want to go out there and give my best regardless of what’s going on because I don’t want to let down the guy next to me. That makes us all go harder.”
Whether a coincidence or a stroke of fate, Jalen Hurts has embodied what it means to play for the City of Philadelphia, even before he was drafted. When no one believed, he fought harder, and the underdog came out on top.
Leading the Eagles, Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia are now favored to take home the Lombardi Trophy.
With less than two weeks remaining, Hurts and the Eagles will meet the Kansas City Chiefs in Glendale, Arizona. Kick-off is at 6:30 PM ET.
“I know the job isn’t done. I never always knew how far we’d come. I never knew how far we’d go. But I never said it couldn’t be done.”