By Alex Kurpeski
We all thought that it was strange when the Philadelphia Eagles used their second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. Many viewed him as an insurance policy for oft-injured Carson Wentz. Others saw the pick as a challenge to Wentz. Whatever the case is, Hurts is now the Eagles starting quarterback much sooner than anyone could have guessed.
I profiled Hurts as a part of my “What History Tells Us” series this summer, comparing his upside to a pre-injury Marcus Mariota. Like Mariota, Hurts is incredibly dangerous with his legs while avoiding turnovers for the most part. From what we’ve seen of Hurts’ college tape, he’s a player who thrives on an offense that can run the ball, as this opens up room for him to go to work on play-action throws. A very typical “west coast” QB, Hurts is built to thrive in the framework of Philadelphia’s offense. But will he be able to? Let’s take a quick look at what exactly we can expect from Jalen Hurts as the Eagles starting quarterback.
Hurts split his college time between Alabama and Oklahoma, arguably the two best programs in College Football since the year 2000. Though he was used quite differently for each program, Hurts was always known as a dangerous runner. Hurts is a grade-A athlete who has become a cult legend for his squatting abilities. While he’s on the shorter end at 6’1, 222 lbs, Hurts ranks in the top ten percentile for burst score and 40-yard dash time at his position. Suffice to say he’s a stud athlete.
Hurts’ first real NFL action came on Sunday against the Packers, when he completed 5/12 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, throwing an interception as well. Though it was far from the greatest performance of all time, Hurts’ play was an improvement upon what we’d seen from Carson Wentz. Sure, all of his stats came in garbage time, but the Eagles offense played for him. That’s more than we can say about Wentz.
There were a couple of nice plays by Hurts in the Green Bay game. In the clip below, he delivers a tremendous back-shoulder throw behind the Green Bay defender. While his footwork is…iffy on this pass, the throw itself was an absolute dime. I wouldn’t suggest he try it again before fixing his feet better.
JALEN HURTS DROPS A DIME 🎯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 6, 2020
On this next play, Hurts drops his first career touchdown pass to Greg Ward. He does an excellent job of rolling out to the right in order to buy himself and his receiver time to open up the play. Green Bay’s coverage on this one is a little lackadaisical, but it’s an impressive play for a rookie QB nonetheless.
JALEN HURTS' FIRST NFL TD! 👏
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 6, 2020
Not every play from Sunday’s game was great, but you can check the performance out in its entirety here.
Every Jalen Hurts dropback from Week 13: pic.twitter.com/l6Hwv0drcX
— Jacob Gibbs (@jagibbs_23) December 7, 2020
As Hurts gears up for his first career start against the Saints defense, I’m inclined to say that the Eagles will mimic a lot of what New Orleans does with Taysom Hill on offense. The Saints have done a great job maximizing Hill’s potential by featuring him heavily as a runner. If Philadelphia stands any chance of winning this game they’ll deploy the rookie Hurts in a similar manner, featuring a ton of RPOs and designed runs for him. It would behoove them to get Jalen Reagor more involved in the game plan this week, as well. If the rookie wideout can help move the chains with his dynamic run-after-the-catch abilities, this offense could thrive with Hurts under-center.