Can Mac Jones learn from Jalen Hurts' path to Eagles' starting job?


Jalen Hurts became a starting NFL quarterback 14 weeks into his rookie season. His former Alabama teammate may not have to wait that long.

Hurts and Patriots rookie Mac Jones have been competing in joint practices in Philadelphia this week ahead of New England's preseason matchup with the Eagles on Thursday. Hurts is the Eagles' bona fide starter after the team traded Carson Wentz this offseason, while Jones appears to be Cam Newton's backup for now but is closing in rapidly on the veteran QB.

Considering Philly made the switch from struggling veteran to promising rookie last season, could the Wentz-Hurts dynamic offer any insight into how New England's QB competition will play out in 2021?

Patriots Insiders Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry joined NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro on a special crossover edition of the Patriots Talk Podcast to discuss.

Patriots Talk Podcast: City of Brotherly Shove! Patriots’ QB competition heats up in Philly | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"I don't think (Hurts) had a great training camp last year," Frank observed. "He would make a 'wow' play every once in a while, but ... it wasn't even a thought about, 'Can this guy play?' because (Wentz) was coming off four years where he was the guy.

"We thought Jalen was a great athlete kind of just finding his way, but when he did play, he did some good things. It wasn't until late in the year, but it was a little eye-opening, because we hadn't really seen that from him in practice. I had no idea how good he was."


Hurts rushed for over 100 yards in his first NFL start and threw for over 300 yards in his next two, and he's carried that momentum into this year's training camp. Curran noted the Eagles' second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft has been the "best quarterback" at joint practices ahead of both Newton and Jones.

Based on what Curran and Perry have observed, though, Jones is ahead of where Hurts was last year. The Patriots' No. 15 pick has made some rookie mistakes but overall has looked poised and confident while operating New England's offense with more efficiency than Newton.

Curran: Patriots' switch from Newton to Jones creeps ever closer

Perry believes Hurts and Jones' experience at Alabama -- where they overlapped for one season in 2018 -- have helped them hit their strides early in their NFL careers.

"I think it must help them in terms of the ability to prepare and treat it like a profession," Perry said. "Because that's what they're doing at Alabama: It is a pro team for all intents and purposes."

While Jones and Hurts have greatly contrasting styles, both have shown signs they can be legitimate starting quarterbacks in the NFL. And after watching Hurts take over the Philly job in the Eagles' 13th game last season, Jones might have some motivation to earn the starter role sooner than his former Crimson Tide teammate.

Curran and Perry also shared their observations of the Patriots' offensive groups, while Frank and Zangaro also offered some insight into the Nelson Agholor experience.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network, or watch on YouTube below: