Drafting Jalen Hurts was right call for undefeated Eagles

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Hurts saw the area code pop up on his mobile device on draft night and thought for a moment about the numbers representing that NFL city in Pennsylvania. Well, 2-1-5 digits the QB read from Philadelphia and that meant one thing, the Heisman Trophy finalist from Oklahoma was going to be an Eagle.

Who knows, if the Steelers had snagged Hurts with the No. 49 pick in 2020 and drafted him as Ben Roethlisberger’s successor, maybe they wouldn’t be 2-6 and already playing for next season.

At least Hurts wouldn’t have thrown four touchdown passes last month as part of the Eagles’ 8-0 start — the first in franchise history. That record makes Philly the only undefeated team in the NFL.

Hurts, however, fell to the Eagles and in his third season, is having an MVP-type year — according to FanDuel Sportsbook, only Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo QB Josh Allen have a better chance of winning the award — and boasts a team- record for the first consecutive wins by a quarterback entering Monday’s game against Washington.

A better person than a yinzer, Hurts revealed on a recent podcast hosted by teammate Jason Kelce that he thought he was bound for Pittsburgh on draft night. Hurts had one interview with the Eagles at the combine, and based on that, “I didn’t think I was going to be an Eagle.”

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Serious and straight-faced at the podium, Hurts is less than impressed when speaking to reporters.

The good thing about the Birds, general manager Howie Roseman made the choice – yes, that was his phone call from the Philly area code – to organize Hurts based on his arm, legs and other intangibles, which turned the QB into one of the best options. of his kingdom.

“He’s been a cool, confident, competitive guy since he came in,” Kelce said.

The numbers show that Hurts has the Eagles lined up with big numbers in the win over the Commanders. With the win, Hurts would extend his franchise record — and longest streak by an NFL QB — to 12 straight victories. The Eagles will also match their longest winning streak in team history with nine, set in 1960 and matched in 2003 and 2017. The credit goes in large part to Hurts.

“I don’t know if I knew everything about how stable he is until you’re around him every day,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “When you live it day in and day out it hits you in the face every day, like man, this guy is stable no matter what the situation is. I’d be lying if I said yes we picked it up. You knew how good he was, how high his football character was, you knew how high his football skills and his overall character , and, but to say that you knew – until you live with him that – I’m sure the Alabama coaches know. , I’m sure the Oklahoma coaches know. But until you live with him, that’s when it’s really impressive and you really feel it.”

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Hurts has passed for 2,042 yards and 12 touchdowns and has rushed for 326 yards and six TDs this season. He threw just two interceptions while accumulating a 107.8 QB rating, second in the NFL behind Tua Tagovailoa’s 115.9. The Eagles are certain that Hurts would not rise to the ranks of the NFL’s elite players. And they certainly haven’t seen a very good season this season.

“I knew we had a chance to be really good, but I didn’t think we were going to be 8-0 right now,” Kelce said. “Not that I’m worried about where we’re going to be.”

Washington coach Ron Rivera said Hurts reminded him of a young Cam Newton, another dual-threat QB when he started on defense. Rivera should know: He was Carolina’s coach when Newton won the NFL MVP award and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in the 2015 season.

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“I watched the way this young man played and Cam was an outstanding player,” said Rivera. “A lot of times when you watch the way Jalen plays, you see a lot of that flash, or I see it. He’ll tell you Cam is tall, but this guy is a football player and he really reminds me of how Cam plays. He plays with a lot of passion, and Cam did.”

Like many teams that have had trouble solving Newton, Rivera’s team has yet to slow down Hurts.

Hurts was 22 of 35 for 340 yards and three touchdown passes, one to DeVonta Smith, AJ Brown and Dallas Goedert, in a 24-8 rout in September against the Commanders. For the Commanders to have any chance of an upset, they will have to pressure and contain Hurts, something the defense has been unable to do thus far.

Washington’s line is solid, with inside linebackers Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen providing solid play under center. Payne has 5 1/2 sacks for the Commanders. Montez Sweat is a threat on the edge. Washington also saw the return of defensive end Chase Young, who has not played since tearing the ACL in his right knee last November 14.

Maybe some pressure will feel painful.

Probably not, since nothing else is distracting the no-hit, undefeated QB.

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