Jalen Hurts: The Future Is Now
Matt Nein / @mnein9
In a game that was deemed by many to be over before it even started, Jalen Hurts lead the Eagles to a victory against one of the best teams in the NFL. Is this beginner’s luck? No. This is just the beginning of something special that is about to take off in the City of Brotherly Love.
Jalen Hurts vs New Orleans Saints
First let’s take a look at the raw stats.
Jalen Hurts went 17/30 167 yards 1TD 0INT. He rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries as well.
The rushing stats are impressive to say the least. Hurts became only the second QB in NFL history to rush for 100 yards in his first career start. The passing stats leave a lot to be desired but if you watched the game you would understand why. The Eagles game plan coming into this week was to run the ball, RPOs, and short passes. Jalen delivered exactly that without mistakes. The Saints defense had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 55 games. Both Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts ran for over 100 yards.
If you are a fan of the Eagles, Jalen himself, or even just NFL football, how can you not be excited about Jalen’s first career start? The stage was not too big, he made quick and deceive decisions, and he showed poise and a confidence that spread throughout the entire team.
The Saints defense came into this game allowing the second fewest yards per game (298.4), 4th fewest passing yards per game (209.2), 2nd fewest rushing yards per game (89.2), and the fifth fewest points per game (20.2).
The Eagles as a team had 413 yards of total offense (Hurts had 273), rushed for 246 yards, threw for 167 yards, and scored 24 points.
It is hard to look at this game and not point to Jalen as the reason the Eagles won. If Wentz had started, I don’t think the Eagles would have come close to winning this game. Jalen kept plays alive, kept the chains moving, didn’t make mistakes, and made accurate throws. Jalen lifted this team on both sides of the ball leading the Eagles to one of the best wins of the season by any team.
This morning on SportsRadio 94WIP, Doug Pederson was asked about Jalen’s performance yesterday: “You know, going back and watching it this morning, there were some really, really, good plays. I mean seeing he played well, he managed the team. He did everything we asked him to do. He played smart. He played physical, you know, with the run. Some of it was designed runs. Some of it was, you know, just him being him and what he can do.”
The next question Doug was asked was in regard to Jalen checking at the line or going with the play called in the huddle: “Yeah, you know, when he checked the one time, I think it was the third quarter or yeah, no, it wasn’t the third. It was maybe the second or fourth. I can’t remember. He did check one play and I was kind of holding my breath, just a little bit. I’m like okay, what’s he going to? What’s he going to? You know but, he sees things, he has really good vision and he had conviction on what he saw, and he made the check.”
These two quotes are packed with information and they tell me two things. Doug Pederson is not a bad play caller and Jalen Hurts can execute fundamentals with perfection. Pederson designed a very vanilla pre-season type offensive game plan for Hurts in his first career start. Hurts executed exactly that and only changed the play at the line of scrimmage once.
Again, Jalen Hurts beat the best defense in the NFL with Pederson’s exact game plan (a very basic one at that) and great execution. What will be Jalen’s ceiling when they open up the playbook for him?
Jalen Hurt’s ceiling is somewhere in outer space.
As for Carson Wentz, there have been reports this morning that Doug Pederson was never the problem nor was the play calling. The problem has been Wentz. ESPNs Ryan Clark said this morning that he talked with three of Wentz’s previous coaches and they all echoed the same sentiments. Wentz wants things done a certain way, if there not done that way he questions why, he constantly questions the coaching staff about the game plan, and the biggest thing was that he changes the play at the line of scrimmage almost every play.
At this point, it seems inevitable that Wentz will not be with the Eagles in 2021.
First let's take a look at the good.
TD Pass to Alshon Jeffery
These are the kind of throws that even some of the best QBs in the league today can’t make. Hurts stood in the face of a free rusher and delivered a perfectly placed back shoulder ball to Jeffery for the TD.
4th Down Conversion
This play so impressive to me because Jalen took on the safety 1 on 1 in the hole and just out muscled him for the first down. Jalen was a world class powerlifter in high school and in college and that kind of strength showed itself here.
Offensive Line Struggles?
This is a fantastic read by Hurts. Might have been a blown coverage but the offensive line gives him plenty of time to find the open guy. I stressed last week that the offensive line isn’t the problem and Hurts had plenty of time to throw against the Saints. This is a screen shot of the above play.
Another great example of the pass protection by the Eagles. Hurts is given basically all day in the pocket and then finds Goedert for a big gain. The Eagles gave up ZERO sacks.
The Hurts Sanders Read Option
One of the biggest things we will see going forward is the read option. Jalen Hurts makes the read option dangerous. Right before the half the Eagles ran it three times. Sanders with a gain of 1, Hurts with a gain of 18, Sanders 82 yards to the house. Look at the eyes of the defenders though on Sanders TD run.
This is the special element that Hurts brings to the offense. The defense must respect him as a runner which will open up lanes for Sanders.
This is such an impressive throw. A right-handed QB rolling left and throws a perfect ball. Hurts is able to square up his shoulders and hips on the run and deliver to Goedert.
Now let's take a look at the bad. To be honest, there was not a lot to be disappointed by.
This is a throw you would like to see get completed. Reagor is running open towards the sideline and Hurts misses him by maybe 2 inches. Personally, I would have like to see Reagor lay out for that ball because it was catchable. Regardless, it was incomplete and the timing between Hurts and Reagor will grow each week.
There only other real negative I saw from Hurts was the fumble he had in the 4th quarter. I wasn’t a fan of running the QB to kill the clock in that situation. Hurts did have both hands on the ball and was protecting it, it was just a better play by the defensive player.
As it stands right now, Jalen Hurts is the QB8 on the week with 19.28 points. In his first career start, against the best defense in the league, with limited down field throwing opportunities, this is a very very high floor.
The remaining schedule for the Eagles is at Arizona, at Dallas, and home against Washington. These are on a per game average.