Jalen Hurts and DeSean Jackson could be a perfect Philadelphia Eagles pairing.
As you may or may not recall from the Philadelphia Eagles‘ 2016 season, it’s pretty tricky for a rookie quarterback to transition from the NCAA to the NFL.
I know, shocker, right? Facing off against the best of the best a sport has to offer is a tad more challenging than facing off against the mildly hungover 20-something masses college football has to offer. Who would have guessed?
And you know what? It’s true. Even the most ‘system’ quarterbacks in the NFL have a ton of responsibilities on any given snap including but not limited to not getting quite literally brutalized by a 6-foot-5, 265-pound edge rusher content with nothing short of total annihilation.
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No pressure, right?
Factor in the, well, fact that receivers are seldom as open at the pro-level as they are in college and there’s a reason why so few quarterbacks take the league by storm six months removed from Mrs. Marino’s English 402.
However, there are ways teams can make life a whole lot easier for a rookie quarterback. A solid running game is a good start. You can’t throw a pick or get a sack on a play if the ball is in a running back’s hands. That’s obvious. Another strong element a team can deploy to cover up for a rookie’s warts is a good defense. If a team can remain competitive for a full 60 minutes it’ll prevent a young QB from having to throw the ball 60 times down by 10 with four minutes to go.
But do you want to know what the ultimate cheat code a team could employ to ensure a young quarterback is in a position to succeed? DeSean Jackson.
Makes sense, right? If you draft a quarterback in, say, the second round, with a cannon for an arm but could use a little polishing, why not pair him up with a grizzled vet on the outside who can outrun any cornerback and is seemingly always open regardless how far the ball is overthrown? Jackson led the league in yards-per-catch three separate times while paired up with Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III, and Jameis Winston – a trio of big-armed quarterbacks with combined 105-118 career record.
If Jackson can make late-era Vick, any-era RGIII, and pre-Lasic Winston looks good as deep ball passers, surely he can help Jalen Hurts transition from Lincoln Riley’s high-flying Oklahoma offense to a do-it-all offensive weapon role in Doug Pederson’s scheme.
Fortunately, Hurts had that idea too, as he spent some of his summer working out with Jackson at his summer home in Tampa.
As initially reported by Philly’s favorite man about town John Clark, Jackson and Hurts shared some Instagram workout sessions via the latter’s Instagram story. Granted, we didn’t get to actually see Hurts air it out or Jackson burst up and down a football field with his signature 4.3 speed, but hey, why give away the tricks of the trade for free? ‘Save it for Sunday, boys’ as some people will (probably) say.
But hey, just because Jackson and Hurts didn’t give anything away doesn’t mean we can’t dream a little, right? It’s not particularly hard to do.
While many will label Hurts as a bigger (not physically), better version of Taysom Hill, a dynamic runner, receiver, passer who can keep an opposing defensive coordinator guessing, but if his graduate transfer season at Oklahoma is of any indication, his passing ability is anything but a gimmick. If tasked with running the RPO with a receiver like Jackson lined up wide right, there’s no reason to believe the Eagles’ offense couldn’t create a near-impossible look built on speed, speed, and even more speed. If the defense crowds the box, Hurts can air it out, throw the ball deep, and do so knowing he has arguably the best aerial tracker in the NFL.
And if said defense instead opts to drop, say, seven into coverage? Well, Hurts can rip off one of those beautiful Alabama runs that made him the number one overall dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school in 2015.
Jalen Hurts is fast, elusive, and explosive. He can whip the ball down the field with ease, throw with touch in the short-to-intermediate range, and drop his shoulder to run when his first option is unavailable. Does he need some work to eventually become an NFL-level starting quarterback – if he ever does at all – most definitely, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Philadelphia Eagles already have a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz and should view any production they get out of Hurts as just gravy. That being said, if they want to guarantee that that gravy is as good as possible, it would be beneficial to pair it up with the best stock possible in the form of DeSean Jackson, a veteran deep threat who knows a thing or two about making less than elite quarterbacks with big arms look really, really good.