Everything Jalen Hurts does - every pass, every run, every decision, every brilliant play, every terrible mistake – we see in the context of whether or not he’s The Guy. Whether or not he’s the Eagles’ long-term answer.
It’s impossible not to look at it that way.
Other than picking a head coach, picking a quarterback is just about the most important decision a franchise has to make. So it’s only natural that a performance like this has us thinking, “OK, he’s definitely NOT the guy.”
Maybe that's not entirely fair. This was one game out of a dozen, and he was far worse Sunday than he has been all year. Overall, he’s cut down on interceptions, been more accurate, shown better decision making and he’s definitely displayed a knack for making big plays late in games.
But I don’t know how you watch this game without finding yourself really wondering if this is going to work.
I’ve tried to keep an open mind throughout the season and not get too swayed by either the high points or the low points. Long season. Lots of football to go. No reason to draw any conclusions just yet.
But there actually isn’t a lot of football to go anymore, and I can’t get past how truly awful he was Sunday against the Giants and their 25th-ranked pass defense and how much of a setback that was in a really important game where a win would have put them in the No. 7 spot in the NFC playoff rankings.
And let’s face it. Even in the games Hurts has played well, he really hasn’t been asked to do a whole lot. He’s made a few throws, missed a few others and handed off 40 or 50 times.
He’s thrown three touchdown passes in his last six starts. He’s passed for 200 yards once since Week 4. He hasn’t completed a pass of 40 yards since the Panthers game in Week 5.
His rushing numbers are incredible. Hurts is 9th in the NFL in rushing. 6th in yards per carry and tied for 5th with eight TDs.
And he’s a dynamic enough runner and decent enough playmaker to win some games. We’ve seen it the last month. But it comes down to whether he can be a consistent enough passer week after week to lead the Eagles on a deep playoff run.
And I haven’t seen evidence yet that he is.
Now, I’m the first to say it’s too early to make any final decisions on Hurts. This was a disaster, but there have been some exceptional moments, some big-time games. And maybe he’ll rebound with a few strong performances over the next few weeks and we’ll look back at this nightmarish performance against the Giants as an outlier.
But sitting here today, after that 14-for-31, 129-yard, 3-interception disaster, it’s really hard to feel encouraged.
I don't care how many rushing yards you pile up, if you can't fire the ball down the field to open receivers on a consistent basis, you can't win on a consistent basis.
Sunday at the Meadowlands?
Hurts’ 17.7 passer rating is lowest by an Eagles starting QB throwing at least 20 passes in a game since undrafted rookie Brad Goebel’s 12.9 in Tampa in his first career start 30 years ago.
He’s the first Eagles QB with no TDs and 3 INTs, below 50 percent completion percentage and fewer than 130 passing yards since Jaws against the Cowboys 44 years ago.
I mean, this was historically wretched stuff. We’re 12 weeks into this season, and he should be way beyond this.
Hurts is a tremendous leader, a high-character young man, accountable and humble. You can see why his coaches and teammates think so highly of him.
But none of that matters if he can’t spot open receivers or put the ball where it’s supposed to go or throw the ball away instead of trying to force it into traffic.
Hurts is talented enough that he'll be in this league for a long time in some role.
But whether he can be a consistent winning starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s hard to answer yes to that question after watching him play Sunday afternoon.
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