Texans coach Lovie Smith calls Eagles QB Jalen Hurts ‘most improved player in football’

The Houston Texans have a manifold challenge on their hands when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night at NRG Stadium.

There is no bigger driving force for the 7-0 Eagles presently than the play of third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts. The former Channelview High School product has a 105.1 passer rating, good for fifth in the NFL, and a tip of how effective Hurts has been under center in coach Nick Sirianni’s offense.

Texans coach Lovie Smith knows the defense has a tough assignment in trying to slow down the field general of the NFL’s third-highest scoring offense at 28.0 points per game.

“He’s maybe the most improved ball player in the league this year,” Smith told reporters Nov. 1. “What he can do, there’s a lot of good quarterbacks that can throw it, but he brings so many more things to the table.”

With quarterbacks that have Hurts’ mobility, one game plan was to try to keep them in the pocket, but Smith recognizes that may not be as effective given Hurts’ ability to throw from the pocket.

“Keeping him in the pocket, I think for us, it’s better keeping him in the pocket,” Smith said. “In the past that’s what we’ve all said. I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case. Just know right now, he’s been pretty accurate in and out of the pocket.”

It may be Houston’s best chance to have success against Hurts as he is dangerous on the fly or when he gets into space.

Said Smith: “Yes, if he gets in the perimeter, that’s a tougher duty. He’s been tough with what they’ve been doing. I think their offensive scheme is tailored to him also, similar things he was able to do in college. The RPO [run-pass option] game with him running it has been pretty special.”

Houston takes on the Eagles for Battle Red Day Thursday night. The Texans are 0-5 all-time against Philadelphia.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire