Jalen Hurts ranked as a top-5 quarterback while throwing “in-rhythm” last season
Much of the conversation regarding Jalen Hurts pertains to his ability as a true NFL passer.
Hurts, 23, completed 61.3% of his passes in his first year as a starter, up from 52% as a rookie, but he still ranked near the bottom of the league. Only Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson posted worse percentages.
Arm talent was the crux of Hurts’ pre-draft evaluations, and some of those concerns were on display in 2021. Although he struggled to hit open receivers at times, Hurts did show flashes of big-play potential in key moments en route to a Wild Card berth.
That’s what I call ELITE BALL PLACEMENT. pic.twitter.com/SOPWGPh0LZ— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) December 22, 2021
The Eagles will be banking on that version of Hurts next season.
GM Howie Roseman went all-in on his young quarterback by trading for (and paying) AJ Brown, who will now join DeVonta Smith to form one of the NFL’s top WR duos. Hurts has spent much of the offseason in California with QB-guru Tom House and his refinements have already turned some heads in OTA’s.
Coaching continuity will also play a significant role in 2022. For the first time in his football career, Hurts is participating in an offseason program with the same offensive staff he had the year prior. Familiarity is essential for QB development and Hurts has already proven effective when comfortable.
According to NextGenStats, the Eagles’ signal-caller was ranked top five while passing “in-rhythm” last season.
Who were the top performing quarterbacks last season passing “in-rhythm” (i.e., 2.5 to 4 seconds)?— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) June 23, 2022
📸: Top 5 In-Rhythm EPA Leaders
1. Matthew Stafford, #RamsHouse
2. Justin Herbert, #BoltUp
3. Tom Brady, #GoBucs
4. Aaron Rodgers, #GoPackGo
5. Jalen Hurts, #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/1ui5u4y1gH
NextGenStats defines “in-rhythm” as dropbacks where the time to throw is between 2.5 and 4 seconds. The metric “EPA” (expected points added) measures how well a team performs relative to expectation and allows you to assign a point value to each play.
In summation: Hurts increased the Eagles’ expected points on drives by 51.8 — 5th best in the NFL. Of course, as we all know, stats and analytics can be twisted to fit any narrative we choose. But if there’s a statistic out there that has Hurts in the same company as Stafford, Brady, and Rodgers, I’ll take it.
The eye test (and more importantly, winning) tells all in the football world. Hurts needs to exhibit visible improvement in anticipatory throws, reading defenses, and pocket awareness if he hopes to silence his detractors.
His long-term status in Philadelphia depends on it.
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Mandatory Credit: Todd Kirkland | Getty Images