Eagles vs. Jaguars: Why this Week 4 matchup is a defining moment for QB Jalen Hurts
Eagles signal caller Jalen Hurts has gotten off to an MVP-level start this season.
Hurts has led the Eagles to three victories out of the gates, racking up 1,083 total yards and seven total touchdowns, all while posting an excellent 67.3 completion percentage along with a 106.5 passer rating. He’s averaging 9.3 yards per attempt and 13.9 yards gained per completion, both tops in the NFL. Not to mention Hurts has earned the third-highest Pro Football Focus offensive grade among QBs this year (79.4), along with the best PFF passing grade in the league at 88.2, nearly 10 grade points higher than the next best quarterback.
The Eagles QB1 has proved he can beat teams with his arm this season
By all accounts, Jalen Hurts looks like the best quarterback in football right now. Not only did the Eagles QB take home the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week award after his performance against the Washington Commanders in Week 3, he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month as well.
It’s a far cry from what we saw in the postseason last year, where Hurts and his Eagles offense were completely overmatched in the Wildcard round by Todd Bowles and his Tampa Bay defense.
Among that Buccaneers defensive coaching staff was then linebackers coach Mike Caldwell, who is now the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, the Eagles’ next hurdle on the schedule.
Caldwell’s defense in Jacksonville largely resembles the defensive unit he helped coach in Tampa. They’re great against the run, allowing just 55 yards per contest this year, tops in the NFL. They’re also one of just three teams who haven’t allowed a single rushing touchdown this year.
Overall, Jacksonville’s defense ranks seventh in total yards allowed (920) and they rank fourth in defensive DVOA. With good-to-great players at every level and a bright young mind leading the group, Caldwell’s unit is legit.
It’s the best defensive unit Hurts will face during this early portion of the schedule. And given Caldwell’s familiarity with Hurts and the beatdown he helped inflict in the postseason last year, this contest could prove to be a defining moment in Hurts’ young career.
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Of course, Hurts looks like a completely different quarterback now. He’s had complete command of Shane Steichen‘s offense every step of the way, he no longer uses his running ability as a crutch, and above all else, he’s won games from the pocket.
We know Hurts can take advantage of subpar defenses, as evidenced by his three-week stretch to start the season. Detroit, Minnesota, and Washington all rank 26th or worse in total defense this season. Part of that has to do with the fact they faced Philly’s high flying attack, but it also probably means those defensive units just aren’t that good.
That isn’t the case in Jacksonville. Doug Pederson’s new team has been playing lights out over the past two weeks and it all starts with their top-10 defense.
Hurts has checked a lot of boxes already this season. One of the only questions that remains unanswered is, can Hurts put forth this same level of play against playoff-level defensive units?
On Sunday, we’ll get that answer.
Mandatory Credit: The Associated Press