Jalen Hurts has been arguably one of the most disregarded quarterbacks throughout his entire career, despite his production. The Heisman Trophy runner-up at Oklahoma, analysts continue to undersell his value as the presumed starter for the Philadelphia Eagles.

I have been notably one of the biggest believers in the entirety of sports media of Jalen Hurts. Most people doubt his ability and talk about his “lack of skills,” and don’t believe him to be a legitimate pro quarterback. Hurts reminded me a lot of Dak Prescott in 2016 – many people doubted his ability to run a pro-style offense and ragged on him even after an impressive Senior Bowl week. Hurts had many of the same qualities, including an impressive Senior Bowl performance. I still believe that he has the same upside.

Coming out of college, Hurts was my fourth-ranked quarterback in the class, behind the obvious trio of Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Tua Tagovailoa. I had Hurts graded as a late first-round pick for his arm talent, leadership, and mobile ability. The thing that stood out to me most in his collegiate career was that so many people doubted him and disregarded him as the star quarterback that he was. In May 2019, I wrote an article on Full Press Coverage predicting that Jalen Hurts would win the Heisman Trophy. While he was the runner-up to the emergence of Joe Burrow, I was pretty accurate on what to expect.

I’ve continued to see this doubt people have for Hurts on social media. People are already banking on Philadelphia suffering a terrible season and possibly securing the first overall pick in 2022. I do not, and I will not, believe it for a second. You shouldn’t either. In this article, I will explain why the Eagles will not fall because of Jalen Hurts.

Starting with the stats

People love stats. Stats can paint a narrative to a player, but it certainly doesn’t mean everything.

Most of the arguments against Jalen stem from his completion percentage in his first NFL season. He completed just 51.7% of his passes in 2020 and compiled a 77.6 passer rating (41.0 QBR). According to Next Gen Stats, Hurts led the league with a 3.11 Time to Throw, which is the average time in seconds from the snap to when the football leaves his hands. This is more of a testament to Hurts’ ability to extend plays outside of the pocket and keep a play alive, as he was sacked only 13 times last season.

Per Pro Football Reference’s advanced passing stats, Jalen Hurts suffered from a 3% drop rate and hit his intended receiver 60.7% of the time. His bad throw percentage, 26.7%, was among the league’s worst. Only five quarterbacks who started one game in 2020 suffered higher percentages.

The Eagles averaged 6.22 net yards per passing attempt (NPA), including sacks and yards lost to the sack. He averaged 13.8 yards per completion. These aren’t the greatest numbers, but they are respectable. His NPA ranks between Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson.

Explaining Jalen Hurts’ passing chart

Let’s look into some more Next Gen Stats. Above is the passer rating chart measured in different points of the field. This gives us an idea of where he is good at making throws on the field and where he struggles.

As you can see, he was effective throwing behind the line of scrimmage, especially to the left. This is because his running ability forced defenses to contain the edges, turning their back to the player leaking out. Hurts was able to throw over defenders and put the ball into space.

The next thing I want to note is his deep passing ability. When going deep right or deep left, Hurts was well above league average. He has a gorgeous deep touch ball, and when he can get the ball out on time, he throws outside and into the seams very well. The deep middle is red, where he was well below league average. This is because most routes going to the deep middle take a lot of time to develop. Hurts oftentimes did not have the proper time to allow that route to get open. When throwing outside, especially against cover three and man, he was able to look off safeties, and as soon as his receiver on the go had a step, the ball was out and on time.

The opportunities that Jalen Hurts’ legs present

As for his lack of ability to run to the right, that can be explained pretty easily. Jalen Hurts’ running ability makes him a threat to burst into the open field on any play. He tends to roll right because he’s a right-handed quarterback. It’s easier for a quarterback to roll right and make a throw without doing so across his body. The opposing defense’s understood this. They played to that key.

Many times, when Hurts rolled right, he ran. You can see that on the carry charts. Other times, he threw the football away or was deflected by a containing defender. The stats prove this – because, on his deep throws to the right, he was well above league average. He isn’t attempting deep throws while rolling to his right. Not many quarterbacks not named Patrick Mahomes do.

Hurt’s legs are a weapon against defenses that he plays intelligently to his advantage. He averaged 4.5 yards per run before contact and converted 25 first downs out of his 63 run attempts – 39.7%. His yards per run before contact ranked third in the NFL behind Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray. His 25 first down runs tied with Russell Wilson for 6th between NFL quarterbacks – Only Jackson, Cam Newton, Murray, Josh Allen, and Deshaun Watson had more.

What Jalen Hurts puts out on film

Is Hurts a perfect quarterback from a mechanics standpoint? By no means. Let’s look into the positives and the negatives here for a bit.

Hurts has excellent physical tools. He has a strong arm and has the mobile ability to create opportunities both as a runner and a passer. As the stats pointed out, he is a top-five quarterback in his running ability, arguably top three. His footwork is good. He keeps his feet moving to stay ready to throw and angles well to make throws. This allows him to deliver accurate balls with some ease.

The negatives? His release can be elongated. It’s not as quick as some people, which is why Hurts will roll out of the pocket to buy time. He can throw on the run but doesn’t do it as well as some other guys in the game can. Rather, his effectiveness is when he tucks the ball and picks up yardage.

He knows his strengths and his weaknesses, and he plays to his strengths. With his work ethic, you know he’s working on his weaknesses too.

Seriously, let’s talk about this offensive line

The Eagles were incredibly beat up all season, and it played a major factor in why the Eagles’ quarterbacks played so poorly all season. Their all-pro linemen Brandon Brooks, Jason Peters, and Lane Johnson were out of the lineup most of the season, struggling with injuries. In fact, those three players didn’t play a single snap with Hurts behind them. The Eagles were forced to turn to the second-year tackle Matt Pryor and their rookies to finish out the year.

POS14 – New Orleans15 – Arizona16 – Dallas17 – Washington
Left TackleJordan Mailata^Jordan Mailata^Jordan Mailata^Matt Pryor^
Left GuardIsaac SeumaloIsaac SeumaloIsaac SeumaloIsaac Seumalo
CenterJason KelceJason KelceJason KelceJason Kelce
Right GuardNate Herbig^Nate Herbig^Nate Herbig^Nate Herbig^
Right TackleJack Driscoll*^Matt Pryor^Matt Pryor^Brett Toth*^
*Denotes Rookie ^Denotes Backup Replacing Injured Starter

I made a chart to show how different the offensive line was every week that Hurts played behind. As you can see, eight different players started over the span of four games with nine different position changes. That’s drastic over a four-game period. There was very little consistency at the tackles spots, and those are the money positions. Every team that they faced had star edge rushers who were able to harass Hurts throughout the games. The Arizona Cardinals had Chandler Jones. The Dallas Cowboys had Demarcus Lawrence. The Washington Football Team had Chase Young.

I think this makes Hurts 13 sacks an even more impressive number, especially when you consider that he only took 10 sacks through his four starts (six against the Cardinals).

Injuries didn’t just effect the offensive line…

The Eagles came into the season looking to play a respectable lineup with receivers Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson on the outside and rookie receiver Jalen Reagor playing slot with game-breaking speed. That didn’t happen. Jeffrey and Jackson struggled with leg injuries all season long that limited their snap counts and kept them mostly off the field. Philadelphia was forced to turn to players who wouldn’t normally start across the rest of the NFL, even struggling to keep those players healthy.

Position14 – New Orleans15 – Arizona16 – Dallas 17 – Washington
Running BackMiles SandersMiles SandersJordan Howard^Boston Scott^
Wide ReceiverJalen Reagor*Jalen Reagor*Jalen Reagor*Jalen Reagor*
Wide ReceiverGreg Ward^ Greg Ward^DeSean JacksonTravis Fulgham^
Tight EndZach ErtzZach ErtzZach ErtzZach Ertz
WR/TEDallas GoedertDallas GoedertDallas GoedertGreg Ward^
*Denotes Rookie ^Denotes Backup Replacing Injured Starter

As you can see, eight different players started across the board in the skill positions. Miles Sanders struggled to stay healthy, and Jordan Howard was a late addition the team pulled off the street after week 15. This isn’t healthy for a quarterback’s development, either. It only points to Hurts’ ability to overcome obstacles and continue to be competitive. Remember, this team beat a 13-3 New Orleans team soundly and kept with Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals.

The problems with the scheme Philadelphia ran in 2020

Former head coach Doug Pederson explained the Eagles RPO system to some detail back in a 2020 show on an NFL GamePass Film Sessions show. The read is made pre-snap when the quarterback in the system counts the defenders in the box. “We’re looking for a one-on-one situation, a hat-for-a-hat,” Pederson had explained. “We want our running backs to make plays in that space.” If there aren’t one-on-one’s, the quarterback keeps the ball and throws over the top, reading the coverage.

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With Hurts’ in the game, the Eagles ran a load of RPO looks. The problem with this is a lot of it was their base package, which the NFL has been defending for three seasons now. Hurts’ lack of experience in their system forced the Eagles to simplify their offense. As the Dallas game wore on, the play calling drastically shifted as the Eagles went to a horizontal attack to try and negate the star linebackers that Dallas plays. It didn’t work, and the RPO was shut down completely.

I must also note that it’s difficult to project the Eagles scheme this season because of the change in the coaching staff. We don’t know how Nick Siriani will move Hurts around or what kind of system he will run.

Teammates are constantly praising Jalen Hurts this offseason

Jalen Hurts’ is no stranger to hard work. People who have been around him have praised him for all of his career. In fact, when he was benched at Alabama for Tua Tagovailoa, he could have transferred out as most other players do. He didn’t. He put his head down and kept working. It paid off when he entered the SEC Championship and led Alabama from behind to a victory.

People continue to praise Hurts’ work this offseason within the Eagles organization. Constantly, players, coaches, and executives have lauded his work ethic and leadership. His teammates have immense respect for him. He’s already gained the locker room. Even former Eagles players have praised his skills and leadership.

“If you have watched Hurts in practice or in a game,” former Eagles receiver Jason Avant said on the Inside The Birds podcast, “the one thing you will know is that he is accurate. Does he mess up because he {doesn’t} know some things? Yes, that’s what young players do, but don’t tell me he’s inaccurate.”

Fellow quarterback Joe Flacco had some great things to say when talking to The Eagles Wire as well. “You can tell in the meeting rooms, he’s attentive, he wants to get it right. And out on the field, he does a great job of getting in the huddle, leading the guys, and being on top of what he has to do for the team.”

Here is why you shouldn’t sell on Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts stepped up for this team when he has needed to. He’s a young quarterback, he’s still learning, but he’s growing every week. “Rent is due every day,” Jalen told the media back in May, “I don’t plan on missing a payment.”

Let’s consider something for those doubters who still wish to discredit Hurts based on his four NFL starts. Hurts put up huge numbers in the Big 12, where several quarterbacks have come from recent years. Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray have recently come from the conference as well. Based on the speed of the game in that conference, none of those players were quite prepared for their rookie season to play in the NFL. It was their second and third years in the league where they really began to shine.

PlayerCompletion %Passer RatingBad Throw %NPA
Patrick Mahomes (2017)62.976.4N/A7.27
Baker Mayfield (2018)63.893.717.26.95
Kyler Murray (2019)64.487.417.95.78
Jalen Hurts (2020)51.777.626.76.22
Big 12 quarterbacks in their rookie seasons

Remember also that none of these players had the adversity restrictions as Hurts did. The Philadelphia Eagles were a huge mess in 2020 and even tanked the last game on Sunday Night Football. Hurts has the work ethic, the leadership, and the overall immeasurable “it” factor to step up when he needs to.

Don’t sell on Jalen Hurts. He’s far too valuable to do so.

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By John Vogel

NFL Draft Analyst. Dad.

One thought on “Keep Underselling Jalen Hurts and Pay the Consequences”
  1. […] In the last four NFL Drafts, we have witnessed two Oklahoma quarterbacks go first overall. In 2018, Baker Mayfield, the walk-on, was taken by the Cleveland Browns, where he has been a significant piece in the change of culture on the team. The next season, in 2019, transfer quarterback Kyler Murray was selected by the Arizona Cardinals. To go a step further, transfer Jalen Hurts was selected in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020 and is primed for a breakout season in 2021. […]

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