Drafting Jalen Hurts was right call for undefeated Eagles


PHILADELPHIA – Jalen Hurts saw the area code pop up on his mobile device on draft night and thought for a moment that the numbers represented another NFL city in Pennsylvania. Nah, the 2-1-5 digits read by the QB from Philadelphia and that means one thing, the Heisman Trophy finalist from Oklahoma is about to become an Eagle.

Who knows, if the Steelers had taken Hurts with the 49th overall pick in 2020 and groomed him as Ben Roethlisberger’s successor, maybe they wouldn’t be 2-6 and already playing for next season.

At the very least, Hurts wouldn’t have thrown four touchdown passes against them last month as part of the Eagles’ 8-0 start — the first in franchise history. That record makes Philly the only undefeated team in the NFL.

The pain, however, fell on the Eagles and in his third season, he had an MVP-type year – per FanDuel Sportsbook, only Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo QB Josh Allen had a better chance of winning the award – and boasts a team-record winning streak for starting quarterbacks heading into Monday’s game against Washington.

More of a jawn guy than a yinzer, Hurts revealed on a recent podcast hosted by teammate Jason Kelce that he thought for sure on draft night that he was bound for Pittsburgh. Hurts had an interview with the Eagles at the combine, and based on that, “I didn’t think I was going to be an Eagle.”

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Serious and straight-faced at the podium, Hurts was still unimpressed when speaking to reporters.

Good thing for the Birds, general manager Howie Roseman made the choice — yes, that’s his phone call from the Philly area code — to draft Hurts based on his arm, legs and more. yet intangible, making QB one of the best choices. in his regime.

“He’s been a pretty cool, confident, competitive guy from the moment he’s been here,” Kelce said.

The numbers show that Hurts has the Eagles in position for bigger numbers with a win over the Commanders. With a win, Hurts would extend his franchise record — and the longest streak for an active NFL QB — to 12 games. The Eagles will also match their longest winning-streak in team history with nine, which was set in 1960 and matched in 2003 and 2017. The credit goes in large part to Hurts.

“I don’t know if I really know everything about how consistent he is until you’re around him every day,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “When you live it every day, it hits you in the face every day, like, man, this guy is consistent no matter what the situation is. I’d be lying to you if I said, yeah, we took that. You know what well, how high is his football attitude, you know how high is his football intelligence and his overall general attitude, as well, but to say that you know – until you live with him – I’m sure the coaches at Alabama know, I’m sure the coaches at Oklahoma know. But until you live that with him, that’s when it becomes really impressive and you feel this.”

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Hurts has passed for 2,042 yards and 12 touchdowns and has run for 326 yards and six TDs this season. He threw just two interceptions while compiling a 107.8 QB rating, which was second in the NFL behind Tua Tagovailoa’s 115.9. The Eagles are certainly not positive Hurts will climb the ranks of the NFL’s elite players. And they certainly haven’t seen a perfect season in this deep season.

“I know we have a chance to be really good, but I don’t think we’re going to be 8-0 at this point,” Kelce said. “It’s not that I’m worried about where we’re going.”

Washington coach Ron Rivera said Hurts reminded him of a young Cam Newton, another dual-threat QB in his prime who stymied defenses. Rivera should know: He was Carolina’s coach when Newton won the NFL MVP award and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in the 2015 season.

“I watch the way the young man plays and Cam is a highlight reel in himself,” Rivera said. “A lot of times when you watch the way Jalen plays, you see a lot of flashes, or at least I do. He will tell you though, Cam is taller, but the young man is a heck of a football player and he really reminds me of the way Cam plays. He plays with a lot of passion, which Cam does too.

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Like most teams that have trouble solving Newton, Rivera’s team hasn’t slowed Hurts down yet.

Hurts was 22 of 35 for 340 yards and three touchdown passes, one each to DeVonta Smith, AJ Brown and Dallas Goedert, in a 24-8 loss last September against the Commanders. For the Commanders to have any chance of an upset, they will need to pressure and stop Hurts, something that defenses haven’t been able to do this season.

Washington’s line is strong, with inside lineman Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen providing strong play in the middle. Payne had 5 1/2 of the Commanders’ 23 sacks. Montez Sweat is a threat from the rim. Washington will also see the return of defensive end Chase Young, who has not played since tearing the ACL in his right knee on Nov. 14.

Maybe there is pressure to rattle Hurts.

Probably not, because no one else has bothered the undefeated, undefeated QB.

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL


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