This year is all about finding out as much as we possibly can about Jalen Hurts. Is he The Guy? Is he not The Guy? And I’m pretty sure we won’t find out if he’s sitting on the bench watching Joe Flacco or Gardner Minshew play quarterback.
Hurts has had an up-and-down first six weeks. And if you include his four starts last year, he’s shown flashes of greatness and stretches of ineptitude in his first 10 career starts.
Which puts him right there alongside just about every other young quarterback in his first 10 starts.
Would anybody have known how talented Josh Allen was if the Bills benched him after he threw 7 TDs and 11 INTs and completed 52 percent of his passes in his first 10 starts?
Would anybody have guessed Cam Newton would be a Pro Bowler in 2013 and MVP in 2015 when he threw 15 interceptions and went 2-8 in his first 10 career starts in 2011?
Would anybody have figured on Andrew Luck having the career he had after he had 12 interceptions and completed 57 percent of his passes in his first 10 starts?
You don’t bench a young quarterback who’s shown promise unless he’s so overmatched he can’t function and you’re concerned about him suffering long-term damage. If he’s getting sacked at a crazy pace and not giving the offense a chance. If he’s just so bad that you’re unable to be competitive.
Obviously none of that is the case right now.
Would the Eagles be a more consistent offense with another QB in there? Possibly. But where does that lead? Where does that take you? Do you win another game or two? Maybe. Maybe not. But at what cost? Never learning who exactly Jalen Hurts is. It’s all about the long game here. You don’t abandon the long-range plan because of a poor game or two.
Granted, the Eagles’ last game – a week ago Thursday against the Bucs - was Hurts’ worst this year. Missing open guys. Making poor decisions. Not seeing the field.
If that were the case week after week, yeah, you might consider Plan B. But just two weeks ago we were praising Hurts for his 387-yard, 67 percent, 2 TD, 0 INT performance against the Chiefs. And just four days earlier, we couldn’t stop raving about how Hurts put the team on his back in the 4th quarter and rallied the Eagles from 12 points down with some late-game heroics.
From last year to this year, Hurts has improved his completion percentage from 52 to 63 percent, increased his passer rating from 77.6 to 88.6,lowered his interceptions from one every 37 attempts to one every 52 and cut his fumbles in half. Not to mention rushing for 50 yards per game.
He’s been up and down and that’s exactly what all of us expected. I don’t know anyone who figured on Hurts being a finished product at 23 years old playing under his second coach in two years and running an offense installed by a rookie head coach who’s struggled even more than Hurts has.
Hurts has been out there trying to perform without the benefit of a running game, and that’s going to be virtually impossible for any quarterback, much less one with just a handful of career starts. Not to mention an ever-changing cast of backup offensive linemen, a collection of young and inexperienced receivers and the weight of running or throwing on an NFL-high 77 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps, a ridiculous responsibility for a young quarterback.
Despite all that, he’s got more touchdowns – 13 passing, 8 rushing – than any QB in Eagles history in his first 10 starts.
That helps no one.
Nick Sirianni can truly help Hurts perform more consistently by involving Miles Sanders early in the game, running the ball at least 30 percent of the time, actually using the middle of the field and being more aggressive on 4th down.
The whole idea is hoping Hurts gets better the more he plays. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. But the Eagles would be doing Hurts and themselves a disservice if they don’t even bother to find out.
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