Jalen Hurts: I'm 'not above' competing for Eagles' starting QB job

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In the four-plus months since the 2020 season ended, Jalen Hurts has watched the Eagles trade away the former franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz and not sign or draft anyone to replace him.

That would indicate that Hurts would come into this season as the starting quarterback, even if new Eagles coach Nick Sirianni hasn't proclaimed him the starter, and even though the team only added 36-year-old veteran Joe Flacco and signed an undrafted free agent in Jamie Newman.

Instead, Sirianni stressed competition at every position, including quarterback. And Hurts welcomed that.

"Everybody gotta go to work," Hurts said Wednesday, the first time he has met with the media since the Eagles' season ended on Jan. 3. "For me, I know rent is due every day. It’s always been that way for me. I always had a get-better mentality every day, grow every day, be a better leader every day, be a better quarterback every day.

"When that rent is due, I don’t plan on missing no payments ... I know I’m not above anything with competition or football IQ."

Jalen Hurts now is the presumed starting QB for the Eagles in 2021.
Jalen Hurts now is the presumed starting QB for the Eagles in 2021.

Hurts, the Eagles' second-round pick in 2020, replaced an ineffective Wentz for the final 4½ games last season. And while Hurts was dazzling with his running ability, rushing for 301 yards during that span, he only completed 51% of his passes and had a passer rating of 76.5.

That was only slightly better than Wentz's rating of 72.8, which ranked 34th out of 35 quarterbacks.

Since then, the Eagles changed coaching staffs, going from Doug Pederson to Sirianni, who may or may not be sold on Hurts as the franchise quarterback.

The Eagles do have four draft picks in the first and second rounds next year (either three first-round picks and a second-rounder, or two of each, depending on Wentz's playing time). That gives the Eagles a great opportunity to draft a franchise-caliber quarterback if they're not satisfied with Hurts this season.

But it's not like the Eagles are hanging Hurts out to dry this season.

They upgraded the players around Hurts, beginning at wide receiver when they drafted Hurts' teammate at Alabama, DeVonta Smith, in the first round.

That's in addition to the expected return to health of the offensive line, a unit that was decimated by injury last season, and the hiring of quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, who actually played high school football for Hurts' father in Houston when Hurts was child.

Hurts should have more familiarity than is typical for a young player with a new coaching staff. He and Smith, for example, were teammates for two seasons at Alabama before Hurts transferred to Oklahoma for his senior year.

And while Hurts never actually played with offensive lineman Landon Dickerson at Alabama (Dickerson transferred there from Florida State in 2019, after Hurts left), he knows the Eagles' second-round pick very well.

That should help under this new offseason program in which the Eagles, along with at least a few other teams, are condensing the spring workouts into three weeks.

That was something Eagles veterans wanted as a compromise after most players around the league said through the NFL Players Association they would stay away from the voluntary spring drills entirely. The players are interested in getting extra rest now that the NFL added a 17th game.

This way, the players are at the NovaCare Complex to learn Sirianni's system with minimal on-field work, instead of staying away and holding meetings virtually. That happened last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Hurts would certainly benefit from having the team drills in the spring, he isn't focusing on how that might affect him.

"I won’t get into the things that we can’t do, the things that may hold us back," he said. "I see these things as turning a negative into a positive. We want to maximize what we do have and go to work."

That, for now, is driving Hurts.

He at least will have the chance to throw some to Smith and Jalen Reagor this spring. Reagor was the Eagles' first-round pick last year, and he had a rough rookie season in which injuries and inconsistent play limited him to 396 yards receiving in 11 games.

"I think we’re all hungry," Hurts said. "I know Reagor is. I know Smitty is. I know the whole entire receiving corps is ... Everybody is hungry because we didn’t finish, we didn’t do what we wanted to do last year.

"We don’t plan on missing meals."

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts 'not above' competition for QB job