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Jalen Hurts embraces criticism

Philadelphia’s starting quarterback isn’t bound to crumble under pressure.

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Football Team Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

If there is one journalist who knows the inside of the Philadelphia Eagles’ organization over the last 25 years, it’s Derrick Gunn. What some fans don’t seem to accept nor understand in these days of sensitivity to negativity and entitled media who get fed information when convenient for the benefit of the team, is that inside information, the kind that Gunn recently revealed, must come from someone credible within the team to be released.

Gunn has never been the type to throw something on a wall and see if it sticks—and he isn’t now.

His reporting has equity.

Gunn and his co-host, Barrett Brooks, are incredibly connected to the NFL and to the Eagles. They know the behind-the-curtain moving parts.

So, when Gunn said on a recent JAKIB Media’s recent Sports Take podcast divulging the current progress of Jalen Hurts, “… ‘He’s got a ways to go.’ And that’s not very encouraging when you hear all this offseason news [about how] he’s working with this quarterback guru, he’s working on his mechanics, he has a second year in Nick Sirianni’s playbook,” guess what, it’s true.

That is coming from someone within the Eagles who knows.

Like it or not, accept it.

Hurts had his defenders. Gunn’s report got called “clickbait,” “lies,” and A.J. Brown tweeted “That practice stuff about Jalen is fake. Ya’ll tweet and believe anything. Like how you can get sacked on 7on7 and there aren’t any rushers. I believe water is above us. Believe that too and make an article about that too.”

Who’s listening?

Hurts.

He takes it all in and wants more. He wants the input. He wants the criticism. It’s because he wants to get better. It’s part of his makeup.

“That kid is not going to run away from any criticism inside or outside the building,” said one of Hurts’ former Eagles’ coaches. “He wants it. He wants input. Jalen is someone who won’t jump off the ship if it’s rocking a little bit, like another guy that they had there did. He likes being in the line of fire when the bullets are flying. If were up to him, he’d have a cot (in the NovaCare Complex) and stay overnight going over film. He’s someone you want in your foxhole.”

Keeping everything in context, Gunn said: “I know it’s a controlled environment. And, like I tell you guys all the time, I don’t get too hyped about OTAs, minicamp, and even training camp. Because it’s controlled. But when I asked a few people back in late May about where Jalen Hurts was in his progress, one person said ‘Let me just give you a scenario of what he went through in one day of practice. It’s a 10-play scenario. He had three picks, four incompletions, and three sacks.’ That was his 10-play series, OK.”

Hurts knows this. He’s probably dissected the 10 plays Gunn was told about 20 times each by now. He will store the mistakes. He’ll put them to good use and learn from them.

Because remember, there is a likelihood Hurts probably thinks “he’s got a ways to go” himself. It’s something the Eagles’ fan base may not be willing to accept (like something else they weren’t willing to accept three years ago that came to fruition).

The ironic twist is that Hurts accepts it.

Jalen Hurts was born in the “everyone-gets-a-trophy” generation, but it’s not how he was raised. He was raised by a coach who told him everything he gets is earned through hard work and the bumps and bruises that come along with it.

Someone within the Eagles’ organization told Gunn that Jalen Hurts needs more work. Hurts would be the first one to tell you he needs more work.

Hurts embraces constructive criticism. He’s going to get plenty of it this season.

One thing is for certain: He won’t hide behind an iPad on the bench or demand a trade when it happens.


Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.