Previewing Jalen Hurts’ 3rd NFL Season

Photo by: Bill Streicher/ Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As a lifelong fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, I can only ever remember a select few franchise players that have ever been able to generate the same level of division among the fan base that Jalen Hurts has.

In a city that lives and dies with its beloved football team’s every move, Jalen Hurts’ play is a daily topic of conversation in Philadelphia sports media.

All fans seem to agree that Hurts has shown more than enough in the departments of intangibles and leadership to succeed, but the real debate among fans lies within his (in)ability to progress on the field as the Birds’ franchise quarterback.

In his first full year as a starter, Hurts compiled a regular-season completion percentage of 61.3%, as well as a total of 3,144 passing yards. Furthermore, Hurts also threw for 16 touchdowns and ran in for an additional 10. Combining these statistics with his 9 interceptions on the year, Hurts posted a Quarterback Rating of 87.2 (ranked 19th in the NFL) during the 2021 season.

While these numbers certainly don’t pop out at an initial glance, Hurts’ first full season as a starter was far more successful than you may think.

Coming off of a 4-11-1 season that prompted the franchise to trade its previous franchise quarterback and to also fire it’s only ever Super-Bowl winning coach; Hurts managed to lead the Eagles to a massive bounce back season in which the team finished 9-8 and made the playoffs.

In doing so, Hurts took an exponential jump in his play from the 2020 season, and was able to successfully master an entirely new offense implemented by Head Coach Nick Sirianni and Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen.

While his capabilities as a passer must continue to improve over time, Hurts proved in 2021 that his floor in the NFL is as a starting-caliber quarterback due to both his elite rushing and scrambling abilities.

With Hurts now preparing to enter his second season as the Eagles’ starting quarterback, the young leader will be equipped with some massive upgrades in terms of the offensive weapons placed around him.

For one, the Eagles have brought Pro-Bowl receiver, A.J. Brown, into the mix as the team’s primary wide-out. This move alone is of tremendous importance not only because of Brown’s talent and impressive NFL resume, but also because it means that incompetent players such as Jalen Reagor will no longer be regularly featured in the Eagles’ offense.

In my opinion, Hurts’ current ranking of 17th in the recently published Fantom Sports QB Power Rankings is a bit too low. I see the young field general as being more in the 11-15 range. 

Nevertheless, I believe that Hurts has as much of a chance as any other quarterback in the league to take a big leap forward during the 2022 season. Spanning all the way back through his time at both the University of Alabama and Oklahoma respectively, Hurts has demonstrated noticeable progressions with each of his last five seasons (both in the NCAA and the NFL).

It’s also worth mentioning that in all five of these aforementioned seasons, Hurts never spent consecutive years running the same offense. Having said as much, Hurts will undoubtedly benefit greatly from a second consecutive year running the Sirianni and Steichen offense.

There’s simply no way to know exactly what Jalen Hurts’ ceiling as an NFL quarterback will be. However, the same could be said of all players in the beginning stages of their careers. What sets Hurts apart from the rest is his impeccable work-ethic, natural leadership abilities, consistent progression as a thrower, and his elite rushing/scrambling abilities.

I don’t know if Hurts will ever become the all-around franchise quarterback that Eagles fans want him to become, but I certainly wouldn’t bet against him for the reasons I just listed above. At the very least, I expect Hurts to rank within the top 12 slots on the Fantom Sport’s QB Power Rankings list this time next year as we prepare for the 2023 NFL season.

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