Jalen Hurts’ first full season as an NFL quarterback has already had its ups and downs. He has shown flashes of brilliance, both with his throws and with his ability to make something out of nothing. He has also made myriad rookie mistakes and off-target throws, items that come with starting a QB with little experience at the highest level.
In the 32-6 win over the Falcons to open the season, Hurts was nearly flawless, and expectations soared. But in two games since, we’ve seen that he may not be the dynamo we saw in Atlanta.
So is Hurts a finished product? Hardly. Judging any QB based on his first seven NFL starts is foolish. But I think we need to pump the brakes on the expectations for the young QB.
Not only has he already had two different head coaches and offensive coordinators in his two NFL seasons, but dating back to his college experience, he had a total of five different OCs in his three years at Alabama, plus one year at Oklahoma. That’s seven different offensive coordinators in six seasons. Just when he thinks he gets the system down, the system changes, again and again.
Also consider that his new coaching staff is still getting their collective feet wet, and don’t really have a handle on how to put together a game plan that establishes any semblance of rhythm with regard to play calling.
Witness Monday night’s pass-fest against the Cowboys. Thank goodness Hurts is blessed with escapability, otherwise that sort of play calling is usually a recipe to get your QB seriously hurt. A more experienced quarterback would be well within his rights to blast his coaches for such a ridiculous strategy.
Another major factor is his protection up front. Thanks to a rash of early-season injuries, including a season-ender for guard Isaac Seumalo, Sunday’s game against the Chiefs will be the third different starting five linemen in front of Hurts in four games. Sunday’s O-line unit will feature backups at left guard, right guard, and left tackle, which may be the most important position on offense besides quarterback.
So in his eighth career start, Hurts will be protected by the sixth different quintet of offensive linemen. In a position group where continuity is paramount, it isn’t very helpful to have to introduce yourself to new blockers every week.
Most of us knew that the 2021 Eagles season wasn’t going to feature a deep playoff run. But if things continue to go sideways - or backwards - for this team, remember that there’s a lot going against the man under center.
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