To some, he’s an exciting young quarterback, a fantasy football darling, and the sort of smooth leader who can inspire an entire locker room to run through a brick wall.
And to others? Well, Hurts is an inaccurate, infuriating, glorified running back with a weak arm, poor vision, and a processor running Windows 97. They believe drafting Hurts when Carson Wentz was already on the roster was a mistake and have a bevy of stats to back that opinion up.
Personally, I fall somewhere in between. I wasn’t a Hurts fan coming out of college per se – as a PAC-12 guy, I was always more into Justin Herbert – but I have always appreciated how he carries himself and see how his ground game could be valuable to the team in the right situation.
But no matter where you fall on the Jalen Hurts love-hate barometer, you have to admit one simple fact: Nick Sirianni and the Philadelphia Eagles aren’t doing their quarterback any favors.
The Philadelphia Eagles can optimize Hurts’ abilities by giving him less to do.
On a recent episode of First Take, Molly Qerim asked Ryan Clark if he still believes in Jalen Hurts. Simple question, nothing fancy, but his response? As Philadelphia as water ice.
“I do believe in Jalen Hurts, here’s the problem; the Philadelphia Eagles are going to ruin Jalen Hurts,” Clark responded to Qerim, Stephen A. Smith, and Sam Acho. He accounts for 85 percent of the offense this year Molly, both in the run and in the pass. Last night, you called nine total runs for running backs. Nick Sirianni can’t believe this is how you bring along a young QB. It’s only been 10 games into him starring. Is he Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow? No but they were picked sixth overall and first overall. Those guys have some wide receivers with experience; some players one the outside we’ve seen make plays on the outside. The Philadelphia Eagles have none of those thing; Jalen Hurts doesn’t have any of those things. Jalen Hurts has a first year head coach who is supposed to be this great play caller but he isnt calling plays in that manner right now. And so when I look at Jalen Hurts right now and what he has been able to do and at some of the statistics he’s been able to produce and the leadership qualities that this dude has, I believe in him.
See what I mean? Spoken like a native son of the City of Brotherly Love.
Now right from the jump, Clark is 100 percent right about Hurts’ over-usage.
In 2020, Hurts accounted for roughly 75.8 percent of the Eagles’ offense in any given game. While that may seem like a lot, it’s notably less than his current clip, which, famously, is 85 percent. Under Doug Pederson, Hurts led the team in rushing one time versus three times in 2021 and dropped back to pass 35 or more times two times versus four in 2021.
In a game manager role, where he received the calls, relayed them to the team, and executed them, Hurts looked pretty darn good. Occasionally he would rise above his situation and do something extraordinary, but as a general rule, he wasn’t asked to do too much, and as a result, he didn’t have to carry the offense despite having the team’s playoff fate on his shoulders with very little margin for error.
In 2021? Well, Hurts isn’t just running Nick Sirianni’s offense; he is Nick Sirianni’s offense.
Despite having a better supporting cast at both wide receiver and running back, though only marginally, the Eagles didn’t go out and land Hurts a veteran possession receiver to make his life easier on the outside or a Sirianni-approved rusher who can help with pass blocking and pick up some easy yards when between the tackles.
Remember when the Eagles were linked to Kendrick Bourne this offseason but ultimately allowed him to sign with the New England Patriots alongside Nelson Agholor? Not only did the Eagles not sign a veteran receiver like Bourne – who currently has 207 yards on 17 catches in five games btw – but they just let their most senior receiving target, Zach Ertz, leave town for Tay Gowan and a future fifth.
Now riddle me this; is either Gowan or this fifth-round pick going to help the Eagles’ offense now? No, I don’t believe either will.
For better or worse, the Philadelphia Eagles went young across the board in 2021. They’re starting a 22-year-old quarterback, employ a receiving corps with an average age of 23.8, and opted to populate their coaching staff with first-year guys virtually across the board. While that could be a good idea if everything clicks and the team can grow together, if 2021 is all about evaluating Jalen Hurts’ viability as a franchise quarterback, he isn’t exactly being given a fair shake, as no quarterback can sustain that level of usage sans a proven supporting cast and great playcalling.