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Doug Pederson, Jalen Hurts Discuss Their Time Together Two Years Ago

The former Eagles coach and current Philly QB were together when Hurts was a rookie in 2020 - then Pederson got fired
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PHILADELPHIA – Jalen Hurts entered the NFL under less-than-ideal circumstances.

Drafted in the second round in 2020, he was about to watch up close a Super Bowl-winning team from just two years earlier implode.

  • Starting quarterback Carson Wentz was dreadful and got benched after Week 12.
  • The entire league was following COVID-19 protocols, which meant few in-person meetings, rare on-field time with every player being present, and no fans in the stands.
  • Head coach Doug Pederson was fired and the entire staff assistants were swept out the door with him when the 4-11-1 season ended.

Two years later, Pederson is in his first year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will visit Lincoln Financial Field, for a Sunday game against the Eagles.

When Pederson and his players get here, they will still see a statue that sits outside of the Linc with Pederson and Nick Foles dialing up the legendary ‘Philly Philly’ play that helped the Eagles win Super Bowl LII.

“I’m very grateful for coach Pederson and the time I spent with him,” said Hurts. “Obviously him taking a chance on me and making me an Eagle is something very important to me. 

"I’m glad he’s had the opportunity and he’s doing great so far coaching a really good Jaguars team. I have a lot of respect for him.”

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Somewhere amid all the drama, Pederson saw something in Hurts, something that led the quarterback to improve to the point where, after just three games that have produced three wins for the Eagles, he is being mentioned as an MVP candidate.

“Everything that you’re seeing now is everything that we saw in him when we drafted him,” said Pederson during a video call with Philly media on Wednesday. “He’s going to defy all odds, that’s just the way his career’s been built."

Hurts couldn’t remember exactly what Doug Pederson’s final message to him was when his coach got fired, but he tried his best to piece it together when he met with reporters early Wednesday evening.

“It was nothing but love and respect,” he said. “I had a lot of respect for him. He had a lot of respect for me and he felt like he saw something in me and he just wanted to encourage me to keep going and keep being the person I am and the player I am. Something along those lines.”

One thing offensive coordinator Shane Steichen touched on earlier in the week when talking about Hurts was the quarterback’s work ethic, saying that he never left the building. The OC called him “relentless” in his approach to the game.

Pederson said Hurts hasn't changed.

“He was the same way,” said Pederson. “He’s a sponge. He wants to learn. He wants to get better. He’s a professional. He takes it serious. Those are the things that you want out of your quarterback, out of the leader of your team, so it’s no surprise he’s still doing that.”

Pederson said he began to realize how good Hurts was when he was the scout team quarterback, helping the offense prepare for their upcoming opponent.

“(He was able) to make the throws he’s making now and doing some of the things you’re seeing now as a starter,” said the Jaguars coach. “It just doesn’t surprise me that this is how well he’s playing. He’s prepared himself for this.”

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.