Former Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had an up-close-and-personal view for Jalen Hurts’ first-career start last year.
Jenkins, who has been back with the Saints for a couple seasons after a great run with the Eagles, was on the field for Hurts’ first career start last Dec. 13 when the Eagles pulled off a 24-21 win over New Orleans.
After the game, Jenkins had a message for the Eagles’ then-rookie quarterback that he revealed this week on the Takeoff with John Clark podcast.
“I could see the situation around him wasn’t necessarily ideal,” Jenkins said. “But Philly loves fighters and they love people who persevere. And so what I told him was, ‘Look, it’s a tough city but you just keep grinding and you’ll be fine.’ I can see that he’s a guy that doesn’t mind a challenge, who is a leader, steps up, takes the bullets, owns everything and I think those are the types of qualities that the Philly fanbase really admires.
“It was only a matter of time before he began to win some hearts. I just told him, you know, stick in through. Try not to read the paper on Monday and Tuesday and you’ll be fine.”
Hurts started four games as a rookie and that Saints game was the only one he won.
This season, as the team’s unquestioned starting quarterback, Hurts has helped guide the Eagles to a playoff berth and helped turn around a 4-11-1 finish in 2020 in to a 9-8 finish in 2021.
Based on what Jenkins has seen from the young quarterback, he has no question that Hurts is ready for the playoff stage.
“I’m looking at his first start in the NFL,” Jenkins said. “All the butterflies, all those things, vs. the vaunted Saints defense. And I didn’t see a drop of the moment being too big for him then. And he’s played in big games in college. He’s been on that stage. With the leaders like (Jason) Kelce in that locker room that have been there before, that can understand how to keep this team tempered the right way, keep them locked and loaded and not intimidated by the stage, I think he’ll be fine.”
In his first two seasons, Hurts happens to be 2-0 against Jenkins and the Saints. This season, the Eagles’ best win was a 40-29 victory over the Saints in Week 11 at the Linc.
Jenkins spoke with Clark about a myriad of topics. They spoke of the Eagles’ upcoming matchup against Tom Brady, Jenkins’ memories from the Super Bowl, his thoughts on Carson Wentz’s season in Indianapolis and all the community work Jenkins continues to do in Philadelphia.
But perhaps the most interesting stuff was Jenkins’ thoughts on Hurts. He seems impressed by the Eagles’ 23-year-old quarterback.
“He’s one of those young quarterbacks that’s out there that you know can win any game that they line up in,” Jenkins said. “I definitely think he has the chance to beat Tom Brady if they put together that collective team performance.”