What else would I do during the bye week except write about Jalen Hurts? It’s a shame the bye week is this early but we still have 6 games of film to evaluate. I previously wrote about Hurts at length at the end of last year and I am going to use this scouting report to look at where he has improved and where he still needs to improve. You can read the whole report with plenty of clips here.
This is what I said about Hurts' strengths last year...
+ Top talent as a runner. Almost has the running ability of a running back. Can handle a heavy workload as a runner. Has both speed and power and impacts an offenses run game massively.
+ Very effective scrambler. Has the ability to create outside of structure, either as a runner or passer.
+ His athletic profile can lead to predictable coverages, especially on 3rd and long when defenses have to account for his speed.
+ Accurate outside the numbers, especially in the intermediate zones.
+ Shows good touch on throws and throws a ‘catchable’ ball frequently.
+ Shows poise in the pocket and doesn’t look hurried too often.
+ Good decision-maker and rarely puts the ball in precarious situations.
+ Consistently good at diagnosing and reading defenses pre-snap
+ Mentally very strong and does not let mistakes impact his play or confidence
+ Teammates and coaches speak extremely well about him as a leader
+ Has made improvements as a passer from year 1 to 2.
I think over 6 games this season, there is nothing here that I would change.
However, I think I would add another strength about the ability to throw from the pocket in the structure of the offense. This was something he didn’t do consistently last year but is much better at this year.
I'm gutted this was dropped because this is one of the best throws of his career. His reading of the defense has improved but it's his accuracy that really stands out at the moment. It's like he's able to place this exactly where he wants it with fantastic touch and timing. Phew. pic.twitter.com/FnfD1XOu8Y— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 21, 2022
The next section is more interesting…
For the weaknesses, I am going to go through each one individually and comment on whether I have seen an improvement or not and try back it up with some film.
- Rarely see him manipulate defenders with his eye placement.
I still wouldn’t categorize this as a strength for Hurts but we have seen more examples of him holding the deep safety with his eye placement. This was more prominent at the start of the season when the Eagles were throwing more down the field.
This is just an elite top receiver play. It's so simple. Once again just read single-high man coverage and give your guy a chance with a really nice touch throw. The Eagles are trusting their guys on the outside to win in these situations. The pass pro being outstanding helps too pic.twitter.com/2e7ecYDCax— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2022
- Very rarely targets the middle of the field. He only had 31 throws all season in the middle of the field between 10-19 yards, per Sports Info Solutions.
This is still a weakness. He’s done it a little more, but still nowhere near as much as the average quarterback does. Throwing to the middle of the field this season (per Sports Info Solution) he is 6/10 for 75 yards (34th).
- His skillset should excel in the RPO game but he makes poor reads too often.
I would now add this to the strength category! Last year he seemed to make a lot of poor reads but he seems consistently good at this at the moment.
If you cover the flat... There's always the curl instead! This looks so easy but huge credit must go to Hurts and how quickly he is reading these. He seems to get the majority of these reads spot on at the moment and it's not always easy to make these split second decisions. pic.twitter.com/GyXoSCf55l— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 18, 2022
- Too slow to process post-snap/eliminate what is not there.
I do not think this is a major issue this year. I don’t think I would call it a weakness, however, we have seen Hurts fail to see underneath defenders in the past few weeks so this could still be counted as a weakness.
The near INT was rough. Hurts is reading the deep safety who carries Quez vertically. AJ Brown 'should' be free due to leverage of outside CB but Hurts totally misses the underneath defender in zone. He could throw it over him if he sees him but cannot throw this ball. pic.twitter.com/VGBRufZggq— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 11, 2022
Hurts INT wasn't great. 3 level stretch, Pascal should be free but he stares it down which enables the flat defender to read it and he also takes too long to release it. The throw is possibly on (not an easy throw with LB underneath though) but the ball just has to be earlier. pic.twitter.com/kSVJtJpsYn— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 4, 2022
- Sometimes too keen to run and will bail from clean pockets.
This is less of a concern than it was last year, but it’s still true. I think you just have to accept that with mobile quarterbacks for the most part. Hurts does need to develop further in this area but it’s now mainly when he faces simulated pressure (more on this later).
Last year this issue was far worse, looking back at some of the clips from last year are brutal in this area.
Eagles All22 Offense thread v. Bucs. Buckle up... this is not pretty. The opening drive, good old debate of results v. process. Result = positive! But he has Smith wide open (and we know pre-snap its likely man coverage) and Hurts bails from a clean pocket rather than throw. pic.twitter.com/IcbVVE5B5d— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 18, 2021
Hurts... you can't be successful long term if you are this frantic in the pocket. Just calm down & trust the projection! The OL are playing great! Literally no need to run out of this pocket. pic.twitter.com/2p7TDpa1G9— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 2, 2021
- Fumbles a concern in the pocket. Fumbled 9 times in 15 games.
He has fumbled less this season, it has not been a noticeable problem through 6 games. He has 3 fumbles but none of them have been in the pocket on sacks.
DAL - 4Q 2:54 - Snap by Kelce when Hurts wasn't looking— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) October 24, 2022
JAX - 3Q 1:56 - Snap looked to come before he was ready
MIN - 1Q 6:51 - Snap again, but this one he was expecting and it hit his hands, it just went through them
- Has a tendency to drop his eyes if faced with immediate pressure, especially from unexpected pressure (such as a disguised blitz).
This is clearly still a weakness, I think we all know this.
Here's the other angle of the same play. Hurts drops his eyes before he even hits his back foot. If he steps up there is a pocket there. This seems to be his biggest issue right now. pic.twitter.com/tmzrL5O4KO— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 11, 2022
Last year, this was my summary of Hurts as a quarterback.
Hurts clearly had a pretty good year. I had a look at some QB rankings to see where others ranked him as I obviously can’t watch every QB in detail and everyone had him around the 12-18 range. Gregg Rosenthal had him at 15 and I trust his opinion a lot. PFF had him 11th. ESPN had him 16th. Pro Football Network had him 16th. It’s interesting comparing him to Jimmy Garappolo who was always just slightly behind Hurts in the rankings (except for one).
Hurts is a fascinating talent due to his extremely unique blend of athleticism, speed and power at the quarterback position. He clearly progressed as a passer from last year, yet the Eagles are still running a pretty basic passing game and Hurts has some huge weaknesses that he needs to improve on if he wants to reach the next level. In particular, using his eyes more to move secondary defenders and speeding up his process post-snap is something he simply must improve. Teams will now have a whole season of film on Hurts and they will know exactly what is strengths and weaknesses are.
Personally, I think Hurts has clearly proven himself to be a ‘starting caliber’ quarterback. You do have to run a specific style of offense with Hurts but you simply cannot evaluate Hurts as a passer without ignoring what he gives you in the running game. He completely alters the Eagles running game and is a huge reason why the Eagles had an elite running game throughout the second half of last season. In the modern game though, is a ‘starting caliber’ QB enough to challenge for the Super Bowl?
I also wrote this when talking about the future.
Unless you think Jalen Hurts has top 5-8 potential (personally, I do not at this point) then the Eagles should be looking at other quarterbacks to try and find an elite option. Pretty much every single team who doesn’t have an elite quarterback should be looking to improve. This doesn’t mean you cannot win without an elite quarterback but you have to accept that the best teams usually have the best quarterbacks. Steven Ruiz wrote a great piece about this topic recently, but it is clear that the elite quarterbacks in the league right now are just playing the position at a completely different level than a ‘good’ quarterback. Does anyone think an Eagles offense led by Hurts can compete with Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen in a playoff game? I struggle to see it, especially after watching the high level performances at the quarterback position this weekend. The talent on show was extraordinary.
I think I was fair on Hurts but he has improved more than I thought was possible. I still do not think he is in the elite tier of quarterbacks (Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes this year) and the jury is still out on whether he can compete with those quarterbacks in shootouts. We know the Eagles had concerns too as they were certainly looking to acquire a top QB if you believe the rumors.
I said he was around the 12-18 range last year and doubted whether he could get into the 5-8 category. I still believe he has areas to work on, but I am not someone who sticks to my opinion in the face of new evidence, and as it stands right now after 6 weeks, I was wrong. He ranks in the top 10 of most QB rankings this year and I think you can make a strong case he’s been the 3rd best QB behind Mahomes and Allen.
Hurts does not play quarterback in the ‘traditional’ sense but if you have a coach who can build around his skillset as the Eagles have done, I think he can be a top 5-8 QB. He may not have the rare skillset in terms of arm strength of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, or Patrick Mahomes, but his mobility is rare. I don’t really like making rankings, but I look around the league at the moment and I am not sure that long term I would take more than 5 QBs over Hurts if I was starting a franchise (the 5 being - Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow) but this is just personal preference and it would depend on the offense you wanted to run. Deshaun Watson is obviously talented but I wouldn’t want him and I think you can make a case for Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott too.
I don’t want to get into specifics around a contract and money as that’s not really my thing, but if Hurts continues to play as well as he has in the first 6 weeks over the remainder of the season, then I would be absolutely stunned if he is not the Eagles starting QB next season and over the next few years. His improvement is remarkable as a pocket quarterback and it’s a testament to his work ethic.
Hurts still has a lot of areas he needs to improve and he still has a way to go to prove to his doubters coming into the season that he is a franchise quarterback but I would be very wary of doubting Jalen Hurts (both the man and the quarterback).