Can Eagles’ Jalen Hurts take lessons from playing with ankle injury?

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Can Hurts take lessons from playing with ankle injury? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

As you might imagine, Jalen Hurts wasn’t too keen to talk about his lingering ankle injury this week.

“It feels fine,” Hurts said on Wednesday. “It’s been good enough for us to get two wins.”

That’s true.

In the last two weeks, the Eagles have beaten Washington and the Giants and they’ve done it with Hurts at quarterback. Those were two big wins that have the Eagles on the brink of clinching a playoff berth as they head to Washington this weekend.

But Hurts clearly hasn’t been himself.

READ: What Washington game will tell us about Hurts' future

Against Washington the first time, he had just 38 rushing yards. And against the Giants last week, he had just two rushing attempts for seven yards. There’s simply no question that Hurts hasn’t been nearly as mobile since suffering his ankle injury back on Nov. 28.

That has taken away a key element from the Eagles’ offense. But, in a weird way, it might end up helping Hurts’ long-term development.

“Yeah, I think any game that you play in, there are going to be lessons that you learn,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “I don’t think that depends on your limitations or whatever it is. No matter if you played a really good game or a really bad game, you’re always going to learn.”

The lesson from the last two weeks is pretty simple: Sometimes Hurts can buy time and deliver throws from the pocket without escaping.

With Hurts, there’s always going to be a balance to strike. Sometimes, his best bet is to flee the pocket and pick up yards with his legs. Other times, he and the Eagles are better off if he stands tall, buys time and throws down the field. He’s never going to make the right decision 100% of the time. But it’s about trying to ensure that he makes the right decision at the highest rate possible.

So if he can take one thing from watching tape of the last two games — and tape of Gardner Minshew in this offense — it’s the idea that sometimes the best play isn’t running. Sometimes, it’s passing.

None of that is to say that the Eagles are better off with an immobile Hurts. His mobility is the attribute that gives him a chance to be a special player. And if you ask opposing defenses what they’d like to happen, they’d probably tell you they’d be real happy for Hurts stay in the pocket all game.

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In order for Hurts to be at his best, he has to be able to do both.

Sirianni said that in the last two games, he hasn’t seen defenses play them any differently with Hurts’ limited mobility. Because the threat of Hurts’ legs can often be as effective as him using them.

“They know what a threat he is to be able to keep it. And I didn’t notice that,” Sirianni said. “Now, if you continue on a streak like this, where he’s not carrying it or if his ankle is not getting better, then maybe you see a difference. But he’s done a great job of rehab, he’s feeling better every day. He tells me every day he’s getting better. We don’t have restrictions on him anymore.

“We’re feeling more and more comfortable and Jalen is feeling more and more comfortable to do the things we need to win football games.”