Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has made his presence known across the NFL since arriving on the scene in 2020. Heading into his second season as the Eagles starting quarterback, Hurts is on a solid trajectory to maintain his status as one of the league’s better dual-threat quarterbacks with plenty of time to continue his growth as a passer.
The Eagles couldn’t have asked for much better from their starter to this point with preseason action underway, and there’s hope he could develop into something special in the city of Brotherly Love.
Related: Philadelphia Eagles schedule 2022
Evaluating the 2021 season
Hurts finished out the 2021 season with a 61.3% completion rate, 3,144 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. While he could afford to limit the turnovers more on that stat line, it is still a notable improvement from his 52% completion rate, 1,061 passing yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.
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Granted, he did have nearly 300 less passing attempts in his rookie season than his second year in the league. But this still reflects the way Hurts has grown as a passer and there’s optimism that he will continue to do just that, something that is already making itself apparent in the preseason.
Last season, Hurts had some issues with accuracy, throwing with touch and throwing with anticipation. This contributed to some of the deficiencies on his stat line and he has to continue working out some of his flaws as a passer, but seems to be on the right track to do so.
Outside of what he brings to the table purely as a quarterback on the field, Hurts received a great deal of praise for his intangibles last season. Eagles offensive tackle Jordan Mailata showed support for Hurts and expressed how much he and the team backed the signal-caller after the team’s wild-card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Hurts’ first postseason as the starter.
“I see my QB solely take responsibility and say that it is on him. It’s not. It’s on me. It’s on every player. I messed up as well, not giving him enough time. It breaks my heart seeing him up here to take the blame for everything. That’s not true. I know there are a couple of plays there where I should have blocked longer. We all need to be better.”Philadelphia Eagles OT Jordan Mailata on Jalen Hurts’ accountability after playoff loss (H/T NJ.com)
Early signs of progress in preseason
One of the biggest storylines of the preseason has been the nasty hit Hurts took from New York Jets linebacker Quincy Williams on a third-down scramble that had Eagles coach Nick Sirianni seething. It was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty and there was some concern in the moment, but it didn’t take long for Hurts to shake it off and ultimately open the preseason with a bang.
There are mixed opinions on playing a starting quarterback in the preseason and it’s highly interesting that rookie undrafted free agent signing Carson Strong didn’t see a single snap. On the bright side, Hurts certainly impressed in his first preseason start in 2022.
On the opening possession, the Eagles’ offense marched down the field with a seven-play drive that covered 80 yards and ended with a touchdown. Hurts first appeared to take it in himself on a 12-yard touchdown run, but it was called back due to an offensive holding penalty. He immediately responded witha 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert.
Hurts didn’t miss a single pass on the drive, completing all six of his throws for 80 yards before the Eagles handed the helm over to backup quarterback Gardner Minshew.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh commented on the hit on Hurts after the game.
“I talked to Quincy after the game. Egregiously awful from Quincy, and he knows that, he knows better. It’s one thing to make a mistake in a game, it’s another thing to make a mistake that leads to points, touchdowns. It’s a good drive, we’re off the field. Jalen’s a phenomenal quarterback, and to stop them, hold them to a field goal after giving up an explosive [play] is a pretty good showing for the first drive… those are plays he has got to get out of his game for him to be the player we think he can be.”New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh on Jalen Hurts, hit he took from Quincy Williams (via NewYorkJets.com)
The hit to the Eagles’ quarterback came in the same game that saw Zach Wilson exit with a knee injury. Fortunately, both quarterbacks escaped their first preseason action this year without injuries that would endanger their availability for the regular season.
2022 outlook for Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Hurts is no stranger to untraditional situations and his rise has been an interesting one. While at Alabama, he went from an SEC Offensive Player of the Year who started a pair of national championship games to backing up Tua Tagovailoa before transferring to Oklahoma and finishing out as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.
Thus far, his path to starting in the NFL has put him on a similar roller coaster. He assumed the backup position behind Carson Wentz, who some initially expected to be Philadelphia’s long-term starter. But Hurts stole the show in his rookie season, closing out the year as the starter.
He’s had no shortage of impressive moments, quickly becoming just the fifth player in NFL history to have a minimum of 3,144 passing yards and 784 rushing yards in a single season with his 2021 performance. Showing development as a passer, this is a quarterback who can be a dynamic force in the NFL with what he’s able to accomplish both through the air and on the ground.
Hurts has shown an improvement in accuracy, takes what the defense gives him instead of forcing throws that may not be there, seems to make quick and correct decisions, something that makes him hard to stop in addition to his ability to do damage with his legs.
In addition to being a player to be reckoned with in his own right, the Philadelphia offense looks threatening in 2022. Hurts is surrounded by a solid supporting cast that includes pass-catchers like A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Miles Sanders. The Eagles had a run-heavy offense in 2021, something that would indicate some degree of a lack of trust in the passing attack. But based on Hurts and the offense’s progression, in addition to the way the team operated in its initial preseason game, it looks like we could expect to see the Eagles throw the ball around a lot more in 2022.
This could be an exciting team to watch and is very much a postseason contender as the Eagles prepare to open the season against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sept. 11.