Is Jalen Hurts the Future in Philadelphia?
There were a lot of good games this past NFL Sunday. However, the most eyes were on the Jalen Hurts experiment in Philadelphia. The rookie quarterback was set to make his first start against the New Orleans Saints. The way Philadelphia’s season had been going, I don’t think expectations were very high.
Hurts had other things in mind.
The rookie helped Philly jump out to a 17–0 halftime lead, eventually leading to a 24–21 Eagles victory. Hurts also made the Philadelphia offense watchable for perhaps the first time all season.
The Eagles’ have had their fair share of offensive woes this year. Even after the victory over New Orleans, Philadelphia still ranks in the bottom-ten in total yards per game (seventh-fewest), passing yards per game (fifth-fewest), and points per game (seventh-fewest). A big reason for the struggles on offense was due to former starter Carson Wentz’s poor play. Despite not playing against New Orleans, Wentz still leads the NFL in interceptions thrown with 15.
Now all of the offensive issues for Philadelphia this year can’t be placed on Wentz. The offensive line has been terrible, causing Wentz to be sacked a league-high 50 times. The Eagles have also dealt with their share of injuries to key skill position players. These problems weren’t going anywhere for Jalen Hurts either.
Hurts also was set up with the tall task of facing one of the best defenses in his first start. This season, New Orleans ranks in the top-five in total yards allowed per game (second-fewest), passing yards allowed per game (fourth-fewest), rushing yards allowed per game (second-fewest), and points allowed per game (fifth-fewest).
There was real reason to be hesitant about expectations for Hurts. The rookie proved everyone wrong however. It wasn’t just that Hurts helped lead Philly to a victory over the previously 10–2 Saints. The rookie actually performed exceptionally well given the circumstances. Hurts and the Eagles accounted for their second-highest amount of total yards in a game this season (413). The team also rushed for a season-high 246 yards.
As for Hurts himself, he finished with 167 yards passing, one touchdown, and no interceptions. The rookie also added in 106 yards on the ground, which was the sixth-most out of everyone on Sunday. This is extremely impressive considering New Orleans hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 55 consecutive games.
Now everything wasn’t necessarily perfect for Hurts. He only completed about 57% of his passes (17/30), and did lose a fumble late in the game. But for his first start against a top-tier defense, I’d say he went beyond expectations.
So where does this put Philadelphia for the rest of the season?
Wentz is done. Jalen Hurts is clearly the starter for the last three games. The question is will it matter? Even if the Eagles win out (the remaining games are Arizona, Dallas, and Washington), they still need some help to win the division. It’s not crazy when you start looking however. If Philadelphia wins out they’ll have a record of 7–8–1. The Giants still have games against Cleveland and Baltimore, which will likely put New York’s final record at 6–10. The real threat is Washington. The Football Team already has six wins, with games remaining against Seattle, Carolina, and Philadelphia. It’s likely Washington wins their game against Carolina, causing the division title to be on the line week 17. If everything goes to plan for Philadelphia, win and they’re in.
Even if the Eagles miss the playoffs this season, all hope isn’t lost. There’s a spark in Jalen Hurts. He gives the team hope for the future, especially if he can continue his play from the New Orleans game. The key is Hurts being able to perform once team’s get film on him. But for now, Philadelphia can relax a little on their quarterback issues.