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Jalen Hurts Can Make Statement by Beating Tom Brady

The Eagles QB can win over a fan base not quite sold him yet by beating the GOAT in Tampa as an underdog
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Jalen Hurts has a chance to win over a fan base, completely and entirely.

Beat Tom Brady on Sunday (1 p.m./FOX) in the opening round of the FC playoffs and Eagles fans will be eating out of your hand.

Look at Nick Foles. He beat Brady and some believe he can walk on water, crossing the Delaware from Pennsylvania to New Jersey without getting his feet wet.

OK, it was in the Super Bowl, and Foles caught a touchdown pass, and he outdueled Brady, who threw for more than 500 yards on that bitterly cold Minnesota evening in February four years ago and still lost. To Foles in SB LII.

Still, beat Brady in his backyard as an 8.5-point underdog and Hurts will be the quarterback of the moment, the one who, if he hasn’t won everybody over by now that he will the QB next season, can empty the room of any doubters that remain.

It’s a tall task, for sure.

Just as Foles’ was, yet he and Doug Pederson found away.

Now, it’s Hurts’ and Nick Sirianni’s turn.

Hurts has been in big games before. He went to the University of Alabama and the University of Oklahoma. He knows the weight of expectation.

“I think any experience I’ve had prior to coming into the NFL, all of those games played in college, at Oklahoma and Alabama, been on some very big stages, I think all of those things have kind of helped me,” said Hurts on Wednesday. 

“I definitely want to use those things to my benefit going into this game. Regardless of the stage, regardless of what the name of the game is, it’s about the Philadelphia Eagles executing to the best of their abilities, having the right focus going into the week and throughout the week, and just having the right type of preparation.”

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It's not just the stage of a Sunday afternoon in Tampa.

It’s the work being put in to be ready when the lights go on. Hurts has done that, too.

In fact, so have two other pivotal members of the Eagles, both from ’Bama – the first/second-round punch of DeVonta Smith and Landon Dickerson.

“I preached about the process,” said Hurts. “I preached about it when we were 2-5, and I preached about it when we made the run that we made to get to this point.

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"Nothing changes in terms of our preparation. It’s all about getting better every day and doing the things we need to do to get better. 

"You either get better or you get worse. You don’t stay the same. Having the right focus, the attention to detail to get better every day throughout this week to put ourselves in the best situation come game day.”

Hurts certainly isn’t in awe of Brady.

He was 3-years-old when Brady played his first playoff game, which stands to reason that he is familiar with the future Hall of Fame QB, but, when asked what memories he has of Brady, Hurts may as well of just shrugged his shoulders.

“I don’t remember,” he said.

Jalen Hurts on Wednesday

Jalen Hurts on Wednesday

As far as himself, Hurts is always hesitant to talk about his progress as an individual, as a quarterback. For him, it’s always about the team, and it’s genuine.

So, others need to be relied upon to talk about Hurts, outside, even his teammates, who have been quizzed about him all season long.

Enter Bruce Arians.

The Bucs’ coach saw him on Oct. 14 and has watched Hurts’ film since then.

And?

“Dramatic improvement,” said Arians. “Total command of that offense. Really accurate down the field. Really improved as a passer. He knows when to pull it down and he knows when to throw it. I see great growth out of him.”

What better way for Hurts to show that growth than Sunday?

Against the defending Super Bowl champions.

Against the GOAT at his position.

In a game nobody expects the Eagles to win.

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 or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.