October 05, 2022 3 min read
Philadelphia fans are a notoriously cynical bunch. Eagles QB Jalen Hurts experienced this firsthand during his first full season as the team’s starter in 2021. It was a season filled with both highs and hiccups, leaving football fans and analysts alike, uncertain about what to expect out of Hurts coming into the 2022 season.
Everyone knew this about Hurts – he’s highly athletic. He can scramble and throw on the run, but he needed to learn how to stay in the pocket and make good decisions.
Philly fans held steady to their what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality going into this season and after week one there was plenty of reason for optimism. Hurts completed 18 of 23 passes for 243 yards in the win over Detroit. He also rushed 17 times for 90 yards and a touchdown. Optimism! Sbnation.com got specific about the growth seen in Hurts in the season’s first win.
Week two’s game was a Monday night affair against a Vikings team that unexpectedly dismantled the Green Bay Packers in week one. What looked difficult going in, proved much easier for the Eagles, who stepped up their defense, holding the Vikings to a single TD in the 24-7 win. Hurts mixed it up both in the air and on the ground, completing 26-of-31 passes for 331 yards, along with 57 yards on the ground, including 2 TDs. ESPN.com called Hurts “the team’s best player” through the team’s first two games.
By week three, Hurts had a little extra motivation as the Eagles faced the Commanders and the very QB who lost his job to Hurts in 2020, Carson Wentz. Hurts not only got the job done, he dominated. A commanding (pun intended) 24-8 win by the Eagles was not the least bit surprising to Hurts, who has never doubted his own abilities. Hurts told SI.com after the win, “I have principles and values instilled in me that have [not] changed, and they never will change. I control what I can, I put the work in, I’ve always put the work in, and I stay diligent and I stay patient with everything.” Hurts final numbers, 22-of-35 for 340-yards, 3 TDs and no interceptions.
By week four against Jacksonville, Eagles fans were all in on Hurts. His versatility had been on full display in the first three games. Opposing teams’ defenses had so far struggled to find a weakness in Hurts’ game. The biggest challenge facing Hurts in week four seemed to be the weather, with non-stop rain and the kind of fall chill that bites you. The elements proved to be no match for Hurts either, though. Unlike in weeks two and three when the Eagles did most of their damage in the first half, they stumbled out of the gate in this one. Hurts’ third pass of the game turned into a pick-six, putting Jacksonville up 7-0 early. The Jags then marched down the field to make is 14-0. Unfazed, Hurts helped the Eagles offense claw their way back and ultimately outscored Jacksonville 29-7 in the final three quarters, winning 29-21.
Hurts received wide-spread praise as he carried the Eagles to the only 4-0 start in the NFL this season. Insidetheiggles.com offered this assessment, “We’ve never tried it, but we imagine that [i]t’s hard to complete more than 60% of one’s passes and throw for more than 200 yards in an NFL game under any circumstance. It has to be doubly as challenging to do so in the rain and nasty weather conditions. Jalen Hurts teaches us something about his game with each passing week, and it’s hard to ask for more than he provided versus the Jags.”
It remains to be seen if this is the same Hurts fans can expect throughout the course of a long season, but his growth has been evident, his versatility a challenge for opposing defenses, and his star is rising fast. Hurts is now second in the MVP race behind Buffalo’s Josh Allen with Hurts’ odds at +550. Just a few weeks ago, a $50 bet would have netted a $1,700 return. That same bet now would net you $300. Whether you throw money at him or not, Jalen Hurts is proving to be a gamble worth taking.
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