Second-year Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is about to embark on the biggest game of his young professional career.
The Eagles (1-1) will take on the Dallas Cowboys (1-1) in Texas Monday night with an opportunity to grab sole possession of first place in the mediocre NFC East.
For the 23-year-old Hurts, this represents an opportunity to show the Eagles’ brass that he can be a long-term option and the face of the franchise. This comes after general manager Howie Roseman and Co. flirted with bigger-name options during the offseason, such as Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson.
Will Jalen Hurts be up to the task Monday night?
It’s a real question. Through the first two games of the season, Hurts has been stellar from a statistical perspective. This span has seen him complete 67.2% of his passes for 454 yards with three touchdowns against zero interceptions. The former Heisman finalist has also racked up 144 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
In terms of team-wide results, it’s been a mixed bag. Philadelphia took out the Atlanta Falcons by the score of 32-6 in the season opener. It’s a game that saw the team put up 434 total yards of offense and 24 first downs.
Heading into Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers on an upward trajectory, Philadelphia’s offense stalled against a better defense. Hurts completed a mere 12-of-23 passes for 190 yards without a touchdown or an interception. If you take away the 91-yard pass to Quez Watkins in which a 49ers defensive back slipped, Hurts had just 99 yards through the air.
Taking on the Dallas Cowboys Monday night, Hurts’ level of competition is somewhere in between. Dallas’ rebuilt defense under first-year coordinator Dan Quinn ranks in the top half of the NFL in points allowed. However, this unit is also giving up nearly 360 passing yards per game after Tom Brady and Justin Herbert took it to task. Simply put, Hurts has a solid matchup here.
The Jalen Hurts, Devonta Smith dynamic
Philadelphia moved up and down the board this past April. Instead of drafting a potential replacement for Hurts, the team went out and got him a shiny new weapon on offense. Through two games, this dynamic has been up and down.
The reigning Heisman winner caught six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in his regular-season debut against Atlanta. He then responded by hauling in just 2-of-7 targets for 16 yards against San Francisco. Such is the nature of the beast when it comes to a rookie wide receiver. Inconsistency and an inability to perform on a weekly basis.
For the Eagles, this must change against a questionable Cowboys secondary Monday evening. Simply put, Hurts and Smith can’t afford a repeat of their issues in Week 2.
Jalen Hurts’ grand opportunity
In addition to flirting with Watson and other quarterbacks during the offseason, the Eagles are less than a year away from having two first-round picks and an additional second-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Sure the 2022 class at this position is in no way comparable to the 2021 iteration. With that said, Philadelphia has the assets to target a player of its choosing in a trade up. It would be akin to when both the San Francisco 49ers (Trey Lance) and Chicago Bears (Justin Fields) traded up in Round 1 for their young quarterbacks in April.
From a broader perspective, this draft capital could also enable Philadelphia to target a proven veteran. Perhaps, the Deshaun Watson legal situation is settled in his favor. In that case, these Eagles have been among the favorites to land him. Maybe Aaron Rodgers’ request of a trade this past spring is continued into next offseason.
Either way, Jalen Hurts has a golden opportunity to show the Eagles’ brass that they can stick with him moving forward. Defeating America’s Team on national television to take over first place in the NFC East would go a long way in helping Hurts accomplish that feat.