It’s no secret that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has a lot to prove this next season. No, there was no clear upgrade to be had within the draft. Nor were there many options in free agency. And with all the time Head Coach Nick Sirianni has put into tailoring the Eagles’ offense to fit Hurts’ skill set, they owe it to themselves to see where Hurts’ ceiling actually is.
But Hurts is going to have to meet them at least halfway – and it’s going to have to be this season.
The full NFL schedule was released on Thursday evening and with the order now known for the Eagles, the opportunity for Hurts to prove what he needs to is going to come early. Philadelphia opens their 2022 slate with the Detroit Lions, Washington Commanders and Jacksonville Jaguars as three of their first four games. The Minnesota Vikings are the other team in there, coming to town Week 2 for Monday Night Football, giving the Eagles a long week to prepare.
These are all winnable games for a Philadelphia team coming off a postseason berth in 2021. Said berth was short-lived, running into the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild-card round, but an improved Hurts could mean improved results – especially in a wide-open NFC East.
Overall, the Eagles’ 2022 opponents have a .464 win percentage, which ranks as the third-lowest league-wide. Even after the schedule came out, with bye weeks and such taken into account, Philadelphia still has the eighth-easiest schedule, according to NFL.com.
On top of that favorable schedule, it will be another year within Sirianni’s system for Hurts. It’s a system that has been tweaked and tailored for Hurts’ dual-threat skill set, specifically. Yes, Hurts only threw for 16 touchdowns last season, but he scored another 10 more on the ground. Those 26 touchdowns rank in the middle of the pack for last year’s quarterback totals. His nine interceptions were tied for the least in the league. Just don’t go into the passing touchdown to interception ratio, ok?
In all seriousness, that will be one of the things Hurts needs to improve. His decision-making and processing ability are two of the things currently holding him back. But the league is moving more and more toward RPO-heavy offenses in order to stay ahead of the increasing versatility of NFL defenses. You need a quarterback who is a legitimate threat both through the air and on the ground in order to execute that. If Hurts can prove he is a legitimate passer, Philadelphia’s offense could thrive.
And make no mistake, there is still time for Hurts to prove that. This will be just his third NFL season. We’ve all gotten caught up with the boy wonders of young quarterbacks as the standard. You can probably thank guys as far back as Ben Roethlisberger for that. But the truth of the matter is that NFL systems are more complex. There is a learning curve. And you don’t want to rush the development of the most important position on the field if you can help it. For what Hurts could turn into, he deserves some patience. I know – not your strong suit, Eagles fans. But maybe try?
That being said, there’s an opportunity next year that didn’t quite exist this year. There is a better quarterback class coming in 2023. Barring any trades, the Eagles are set to have another two first-round picks, as well. Therein lies a unique situation where they could get their signal-caller of the future while also helping out another ailing need with a plug-and-play starter. That doesn’t come around very often – especially for a team that has enjoyed relative success in the last few seasons.
That has added a sense of urgency to the Hurts evaluation process. But lucky for him, the football gods have seemed to smile on him as far as this season’s schedule goes. Now all he has to do is capitalize on it.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023