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Patrick Mahomes vs Jalen Hurts: Comparing starting QBs in Super Bowl 2023

Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl LVII with Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts will be the first time in NFL history that two Black quarterbacks started in the Super Bowl. It’s a historic moment for football and an opportunity for fans to see two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

They took very different roads to get here. While neither player began their career as a starting quarterback. We never see quarterbacks go head-to-head, but a comparison of both signal-callers can highlight each of their strengths and where teams will have specific advantages.

Mahomes is on a path to be one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. It all started when he was a three-star recruit, playing at Texas Tech before being selected with the 10th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. After backing up Alex Smith for a year, Mahomes became the full-time starter in 2018 and he’s been the best quarterback in the NFL ever since.

Related: NFC team told Patrick Mahomes they would draft him

Hurts has encountered even more challenges on his road to Super Bowl LVII. He was benched by the Alabama Crimson Tide in the second half of the 2018 CFP National Championship Game. He transferred and became a star with the Oklahoma Sooners.

After finishing as a Heisman Trophy finalist, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in 2020. He beat Carson Wentz for the starting job in Week. 14 of the 2020 season and kept it. Ever since, he’s been on an upward trajectory that culminated in him finishing second for NFL MVP this season.

Related: Philadelphia Eagles to pursue ‘monster’ Jalen Hurts contract extension

Let’s dive into our comparison of these two quarterbacks.

Statistics are via Pro Football Focus, ESPN and Pro Football Reference.

Jalen Hurts vs Patrick Mahomes stats comparison

NFL: NFC Championship-San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If not for an SC joint sprain, the MVP race between Mahomes and Hurts likely would’ve been neck-and-neck. Philadelphia’s breakout star became the centerpiece of their offense, throwing for over 3,700 yards and finishing second on the team in rushing yards (760) and first in touchdowns (13).

After the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill, everyone assumed Mahomes’ production would slide. Instead, he set a career-high in passing yards (5,250), completion rate (67.1%) and his first season throwing 40-plus touchdowns since 2018.

QBRPFFQB RatingCompletion RateTotal YardsTotal TDs
Jalen Hurts66.385.9101.666.5%4,46135
Patrick Mahomes77.591.3105.267.1%5,60845
Statistics from the regular season

The numbers capture just how dominant both quarterbacks were this season, carrying their teams to the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences with the first-round bye. While each of them has separate injuries heading into Super Bowl LVII .

Handling pressure

NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

While Super Bowl LVII will present plenty of pressure on its own, with a Lombardi Trophy at stake and 100-plus million people watching, pass rushers will bring even more intensity. While the Eagles’ defensive dominance is a group effort, Chris Jones leads a one-man wrecking crew on the Chiefs’ defensive line.

Philadelphia became the fourth team in NFL history to record 70-plus sacks in a season, with four players reaching double-digit totals. It puts them at an advantage against a Kansas City front that struggles against edge pressure. Fortunately for the Chiefs, Mahomes is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL when under duress.

  • Patrick Mahomes vs pressure (2022): 78.7 QB rating, 14-7 TD-INT, 6.6 ypa, 49.1% completion ratio, 73.5 PFF grade
  • Jalen Hurts vs pressure (2022): 66.8 QB rating, 4-2 TD-INT, 5.5 ypa, 45% completion rate, 52.4 PFF grade

The Eagles know Hurts is at a bigger disadvantage when the pressure gets near him. While his athleticism makes him a threat for a big play with his legs if a hole opens, containing him inside the pocket typically yields favorable results for the defense.

In the Eagles’ favor, they have the best pass-blocking offensive line in the NFL. It keeps the pocket clean for a majority of Hurts’ dropbacks, allowing him to sit back and attack a vulnerable secondary. Of course, Philadelphia will be in trouble if it can’t pressure Mahomes.

  • Jalen Hurts vs clean pocket (2022): 111.0 QB rating, 20-4 TD-INT, 8.5 ypa, 72.8% completion rate, 91.6 PFF grade
  • Patrick Mahomes vs clean pocket (2022): 117.2 QB rating, 31-5 TD-INT, 8.6 ypa, 75.3% completion rate, 93.6 PFF grade

Advantage: Patrick Mahomes

Comparing athleticism

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned above, injuries play a role in the evaluation of both quarterbacks. While two weeks of rest and treatment will help the injuries both of these All-Pro selections are dealing with, the ailments will still have some impact on them.

Hurts acknowledged he is playing through extreme discomfort, dealing with a shoulder injury that might be even more severe than first reported. Because of it, the Eagles don’t seem as comfortable using him as a runner. After averaging 11.1 carries and 53.4 rushing yards per game from Week 1-15, he’s averaged 9.6 carries per game and 28.6 rush ypg.

  • Jalen Hurts 40 time: 4.59

As for Mahomes, a high-ankle sprain can impact athletes for more than a month. While he played well in the AFC Championship Game, the sprain prevented him from moving as much as we’d typically see and that diminishes his ability to escape pressure as effectively.

  • Patrick Mahomes 40 time: 4.80

Related: Fastest players in NFL

While this would be closer if Mahomes’ ankle was healthy, the edge goes to Hurts. He’s in the 91st percentile for Burst Score (123.8), the 94th percentile for 40 times and he’s a much more dangerous threat right now to a defense with his legs.

Advantage: Jalen Hurts

Throwing deep

NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Explosive plays are what land on the highlights and are often game-changing moments in a Super Bowl. Unsurprisingly, both of these quarterbacks are outstanding when firing back and launching it 20-plus yards downfield.

QB RatingPFFTD-INTCompletion RateYPA
Patrick Mahomes110.994.84-044.9%14.3
Jalen Hurts105.786.111-338.1%14.2
Statistics on throws 20-plus yards downfield

This is the biggest area where Hurts’ shoulder injury matters. From Weeks 1-15, the Eagles’ signal-caller completed 42.9% of his deep passes with a 90.0 PFF grade and a 117.6 QB rating. In the three games since his return, Hurts has a 30% completion rate, 60.1 PFF grade and 71.3 QB rating with zero touchdowns on 10 attempts.

Meanwhile, Mahomes’ legendary arm strength and outstanding accuracy make him as lethal as ever when going deep. Even without Hill, he ranked fourth in passer rating (107.1) on deep attempts in the regular season with the fifth-best completion rate (44.4%).

  • Advantage: Patrick Mahomes

Accuracy

NFL: NFC Championship-San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The old saying is you can’t teach accuracy, but Jalen Hurts might be one of the rare exceptions in NFL history. It was one of the biggest knocks on the Eagles’ star during the pre-draft process. Just like in college, though, he made remarkable improvements.

As for Mahomes’ accuracy, just look at two of the greatest incompletions in Super Bowl history. While neither throw went for a touchdown, the two-time MVP showed a level of touch when throwing from a platform that no other quarterback would even think of attempting.

With the help of Player Profiler, we can take a look at how the two quarterbacks compare in regard to their accuracy.

  • Jalen Hurts accuracy (2022): 77.8% On-Target rate, 80.4% catchable pass rate, 52% pressured catchable pass rate, 6.5 red zone accuracy rating
  • Patrick Mahomes accuracy: 77.1% On-Target rate, 79.5% catchable pass rate, 58.4% pressured catchable pass rate, 6.9 red zone accuracy rating

While Hill might have some public complaints regarding Mahomes’ accuracy, they are unwarranted. These are two exceptional quarterbacks who know exactly where they want the football to go and they put it there. If we’re splitting hairs, Mahomes’ accuracy numbers are pushed down by him attempting throws no one else would. Meanwhile, Hurts benefits from a system that helps create a lot of favorable throwing windows.

Advantage: Push

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