PHILADELPHIA – Consistency.
If there is one criticism so far after four days of camp, it’s that the second-year Eagles quarterback continues to search for it.
Take Saturday evening, for example, the fourth day of practice, and the last one before the team takes off Sunday.
Hurts was on the money with a deep threw to Zach Ertz, who did what Ertz is famous for, and that is running a terrific route. This one was an out-and-up in an 11-on-11 drill.
The QB hit Ertz just about in stride deep down the field and allowed Ertz to cruise into the end zone.
Hurts also looked mostly sharp during one-on-one receiver vs. DB drills.
But, in a seven-on-seven drill, Hurts threw a wobbler that was picked off by T.J. Edwards. Hurts also underthrew a pass to DeVonta Smith that led to the receiver having to bend low to catch it. In an awkward position, Smith was walloped from behind and that ended his evening.
The first-round pick returned to the field without a helmet and watched the rest of practice. The Eagles said he is being evaluated for a leg injury, but they don’t seem concerned it is anything serious.
On Friday, Hurts made magnificent throws to Dallas Goedert and Jason Croom in red-zone drills but was high on other throws.
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“When you climb this mountain, it doesn’t happen overnight,” said Hurts earlier in the week. “You have to be patient with that, but you have to put the time in. You have to remain diligent with your work, put maximum effort in every day. The biggest thing about this football thing, is one percent better every day. Invest in yourself and to the team every day and going out there and playing hard.”
Head coach Nick Sirianni praised Hurts for those Friday throws prior to Saturday’s evening practice, but added, he wants to see Hurts continue to cut out any mistakes “and just see how special he is with the ball in his hands.”
The coach doesn’t plan to interfere much with Hurts’ mechanics, at least with his upper body. The quarterback’s feet are a different story.
“Everything we do is going to be to get his feet in sync with the play and to get his feet target line set to where he's throwing the football,” said Sirianni. “That's the most important thing we can do for a quarterback's fundamentals. Again, don’t mess – I don't mess with the quarterback up top, right. He's been throwing this way his entire life. I don't mess with too much of that.”
Sirianni also wants Hurts to protect the ball better once he begins to move out of the pocket. He wants his QB to keep two hands on the ball.
“He has a tendency as he moves to keep one hand on the ball,” said the coach. “We've just got to get the two hands on the football as he moves in the pocket. So, fundamentals at every position is critical. His is no different and we have a great coach in [quarterbacks coach] Brian Johnson. That’s one of the main reasons he's here, is because he's great with fundamentals of quarterback play.”
Consistency is an elusive target for every quarterback, no matter what round they were drafted in or how long they have played.
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The other two quarterbacks on the roster, Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens know how difficult it is to achieve consistency at the game’s highest level.
“Quarterback rooms, that is one of the best places in that building,” said Sirianni. “To be able to sit in a quarterback room, I sit in the quarterback room every day. Every meeting, I'm in there, [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] is in there, Brian's in there and then obviously Nick, Joe and Jalen.
“We just talk through so many things, right? We talk through just why we're calling a play and what we want it against and what it might not be good against. And there's just these conversations that go and Joe has all this experience, Nick has experience, Jalen has experience and just, ‘Hey, what is your favorite time you've ever hit this?’ I just seeing in them connecting on being in that room together, and really, really happy with that.”
The search for consistency will be a process for Hurts, one that will last through the summer and beyond. The closer he can get to it the better he should become.
If not, well, Flacco and Mullens are waiting in the wings. Just in case.
“Really happy with that room,” said Sirianni. “I think a lot of teams in this league would be ecstatic to have the three players that we have.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.