It’s still unclear if Jalen Hurts can be the Eagles’ QB1 of the future
After six weeks through the Philadelphia Eagles season, it seems like we are no closer to an answer about Jalen Hurts than at the start of the season. Hurts has had some excellent moments this season but, at other points, has shown some serious flaws that could hinder his potential moving forward.
With proper coaching and schemes, many of these issues can be catered to and also shouldn’t shock anyone who watched Jalen Hurts at Alabama or Oklahoma. Nick Sirianni has yet to determine an identity for his offense, and the situations he has put Hurts in have been head-scratching.
For one, Jalen Hurts is not a pocket-passer, plain and simple. If the Eagles continue to force this mold that Hurts needs to fit, he will never work out. Hurts is at his best when utilizing his mobility and athleticism. A six-foot speedster QB should not be forced to become a five-stop drop guy. The perfect way to cater to Hurts is by running the football, setting up play actions, and read options. Alongside those, just get Hurts out of the pocket on designed roll-outs.
For a head coach who prided himself on putting his players in a position to succeed, he has done a horrid job at doing so. Instead of the above proposal, Sirianni refuses to use Miles Sanders and makes Jalen Hurts sit in the pocket, roll out to the sideline, and throw it out of bounds.
Jalen Hurts is 27th in the NFL in adjusted QB rating with a 37.5, tied with Davis Mills of the Houston Texans. Meanwhile, Hurts has the second most QB rushing yards with 300 yards, trailing just Lamar Jackson. If Hurts keeps this pace up he should easily finish with the second most rushing yards by an Eagles QB in a season, trialing only Randall Cunningham who had 942 yards in 1990. The problem here is these runs should be implemented more but with a heavier focus on Miles Sanders, which might take those yards from Hurts but better his game all around.
However, these faults aren’t all on Nick Sirianni, but he is still a large part of it. Jalen Hurts has issues in nearly every aspect of his game, both mental and physical. The most prominent issue is his tunnel vision when progressing through his reads. When Hurts has his first option open, he looks incredible, and everything runs smoothly. The second that primary target is covered, things go downhill immediately. Like a deer in headlights, Hurts panics and looks like Carson Wentz, forcing himself to play hero ball and extend the play, and it has never worked out.
Even if that first guy is sometimes open, the ability to get the ball there consistently is just lacking. Hurts accuracy is improving but is far from perfect. There have been several overthrows for possible huge gains that have hurt this team tremendously.
At the same time, his arm strength has taken numerous points off the board for this offense. Hurts’ inability to lead his receivers deep consistently has forced the receivers to turn around and fight for a contested football, sometimes leading to interceptions. Arm strength has been a noted place for improvement but looking back at some of his throws, it looks to be more mental than initially thought.
We all know Jalen Hurts is a strong guy, the workout videos with Lane Johnson this offseason have shown it. That throw clearly proves he can get the ball downfield, but there are several reasons why it doesn’t happen consistently. The one goes back to what was said before, Jalen Hurts struggles past his first read and doesn’t fully commit to the pass leading to the bad throw. Another reason could be that he just doesn’t have the throwing power to send it 60 yards consistently.
Both of these problems can be fixed, but they come with time. Despite what some people said in my replies on Twitter, a young quarterback can 1000% improve his arm strength. It won’t come overnight, but some targeted muscle groups in workouts should be able to send that ball the extra ten yards or so needed.
If it’s decision making, that needs to be fixed by Nick Sirianni by simplifying the game-plan and getting him comfortable first. But like mentioned above, Sirianni has done a horrible job at catering to Jalen Hurts’ strengths as a quarterback. Easier reads and a defined system will help those issues clear up. Running inconsistent plays with no rhyme or reason is going to confuse your young QB and stunt his development.
After it’s all said and done, there is no real better option on the market to replace Hurts if you have to this offseason. Some fans have already pointed to Gardner Minshew to take over the offense but that is not realistic at this time. The quarterback class in the 2022 Draft is weak, Matt Corral and Malik Willis are the only viable options but don’t look to be as good as the previous drafts. Outside of those two, there aren’t any QBs across the league that’re available who can take over a franchise, unless Russell Wilson becomes available.
I think it’s easy to say that everyone in Philadelphia is rooting for Jalen Hurts to be the face of the franchise, myself included. But after everything we have seen so far it’s unclear if he can be the man. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since the system isn’t being designed for the type of player that Hurts is. Everyone is hoping that these young flaws in both the coaching staff and QB room will eventually work themselves out, but it will take time to figure that out.
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