This week in practice, Jalen Hurts was running the Eagles’ first-team offense as he prepares to start his first NFL game.
But for most of the season, he has been the Eagles’ backup quarterback charged with running the scout team. That means going against the starting defense every day.
Those guys have been impressed with what they’ve seen out of Hurts this season. In particular, Jalen Mills said the last few Fridays have been especially eye-opening. The Eagles work on red zone on Fridays.
“He would make some crazy throws on us, man,” Mills said. “Some crazy throws. It'd have (Jim) Schwartz cussing us out, guys on the defense mad, pissed off. But that's what you want. You want that competition on the other side of the ball.
“And you see him making those throws, and … you're like, he's a rookie, he can use his legs, he's not a guy who just trying to run because the pocket is collapsing. He was sitting in the pocket and he was making accurate throws on tight coverage, so for sure, I think that's kind of one of the things that sparked my eye that he's comfortable sitting in the pocket.”
While the move to start Hurts over Carson Wentz is obviously more about Wentz’s struggles than Hurts’ success, it doesn’t mean that Hurts didn’t factor into this decision. Because he did play fairly well last Sunday in relief — Doug Pederson said Hurts gave them a spark — and he’s apparently looked good in practice too.
Hurts is certainly known for his running ability, but he has a good arm and has come a long way in that aspect of his game.
Sometimes, his running ability overshadows his arm, but Mills on Friday said his ability to pass the ball from the pocket shouldn’t be overlooked. Mills even thought back at his college days at LSU. He said whenever they played Alabama, they knew the opposing quarterback was running a pro style offense and could pass from the pocket.
“So when you talk about that, him playing in that style of offense, you know he can make every throw on the field,” Mills aid. “That's just point blank, period. So definitely, for sure, kind of like you just said, his legs, they're a weapon, but at the end of the day, his arm is his arm. He can make every throw on the field, for sure.”
So maybe you shouldn’t sleep on Hurts’ ability to throw the ball but what makes him such an intriguing player is that he is a dual-threat. He can throw, he can run and he can throw on the run as he showed off with his first-career touchdown pass last week.
On Sunday, Hurts is being thrown to the wolves, facing one of the top defenses in the NFL. It’s not an easy task.
But the Eagles are putting their full support behind him, which is a little easier after they’ve watched him work the last few months.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast: