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It's the Titans' Turn to Solve the Jalen Hurts Conundrum

The Eagles QB has run more the past two weeks, making him harder to defend, but also opening himself up to being
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In Philadelphia, the concern is stopping Tennessee power back Derrick Henry.

In Nashville, the worry is Jalen Hurts.

The NFC Offensive Player of the Week put on a show Sunday night in beating the Packers. Really, all season the Eagles quarterback has been a force to be reckoned with and is squarely in the MVP conversation.

“I have always admired him from afar, watching the path his career’s taken in college and obviously I coached in Houston and knew where he was from,” said Titans coach Mike Vrabel on a conference call with Eagles media on Wednesday afternoon.

“And how he handled it (the benching at Alabama) with a whole lot of class. He’s come in and been a great leader it seems like, and then obviously tremendous on the field with his ability to extend plays, to run, to take care of himself, and not put the ball in harm’s way when he’s throwing it.”

Vrabel has until Sunday at 1 p.m. to solve the Hurts conundrum. That is when he will bring his first-place team in the AFC South to play the first-place team in the NFC East.

Defending Hurts is something not many teams have had success doing this season.

Now, it’s Vrabel’s turn.

“I think you have to give him some different looks,” he said. “You can’t give him easy access throws and you have to be able to force him into where you have some other people. He can’t get into the middle of a defense and break it down. He’s going to be difficult to defend.”

He has accounted for 25 touchdowns - 17 passing and eight rushing.

Last year, Hurts had 26 TDs - 16 passing and 10 rushing.

Hurts has resumed his assault on defenses with his legs following weeks of beating teams with his arm.

He went four straight games without running more than 10 times in a game, a streak that ended in Indianapolis when he had 16 runs for 86 yards and continued in Sunday night’s record-setting 157-yard outing on 17 runs.

Any worries over an injury while running can be assuaged by his ability to know how to take a hit.

That doesn’t mean something nasty can’t happen in the open field, especially with the horrible MetLife Stadium turf waiting in two weeks when the Eagles play the New York Giants for the first time this season.

It was on that field last year where Hurts injured an ankle that required surgery after the season. The injury came inside the pocket, however.

Head coach Nick Sirianni said a lot of Hurts’ runs are just instinctual, and the QB agreed.

“There are a lot of things that I don’t really put too much into, to be honest,” said Hurts on Wednesday. “I just try and protect myself. There’s no master formula for it. I just go out there and play my game.”

Sirianni said he would like to see Hurts slide a bit earlier to protect himself as well.

Against the Packers, Hurts slid too late and Green Bay safety Rudy Ford was unable to hold up and ended up bending the QB in half at the waist as he slid.

“The fans wanted a call, but he started to slide late and 20, Ford, got a hit on him because he was already in motion,” said Sirianni. “So, start the slide early. But things you can't teach is how he moves his body so the guy doesn't get a clean shot on him.

“Or the stick the foot in the ground and make the guy miss, but also having this feel for where guys are around you. Okay, if this guy squared me up, am I going to stick and miss? How do I teach him where all these guys are around him? That's instinctual. He's got great instincts there.”

READ MORE: Jalen Hurts Takes Home his First NFC ... - Sports Illustrated

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