Judging Jalen Hurts on a Small Sample Size

The rookie made just four starts and showed some good and some bad
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PHILADELPHIA – Four games, that’s the body of work on which Jalen Hurts will be judged. One quarter of a season.

The performance review of the Eagles' rookie quarterback should be done this week, and it will show some good and some bad.

The 1-3 record. Bad.

The 354 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Good.

The 52 percent completion percentage. Very bad.

The unflappable, never-let-them-see-you-sweat mentality he brought to every game. Good.

The six touchdowns and five interceptions. Bad.

The leadership ability. Very good.

Is the whole package good enough to hand the keys to the offense to him in 2021, with the hope that head coach Doug Pederson can make him a more accurate thrower?

Before answering it’s best to hear some of Hurts’ views on these last four weeks as the starter. He called them a grind, but one he said he has embraced.

“I’ve loved it, honestly,” he said. “I love winning more than anything. I care nothing about that but winning. I’ve been so invested in doing that...I've gotten to the point where nothing else matters.

“How can I grow into the player I know I can be? What does that look like? Who’s around me? Who’s going to help me get there? Just finding that, I think that’s where my head is. It’s all about growth. I’m all about growth and I’m all about learning.

“I’m very appreciative of this opportunity and I want to take advantage of it. I’m all about how can I help this team get to where we want to be? How can I become a better quarterback for this team? I have a lot of experiences that I can learn from, we will be better from.”

It’s also wise to take into account that every rookie this year did not have the benefit of a full offseason worth’s of work.

The team, every team, had meetings virtually and locker room interactions were socially distanced, and not all the players were in there at the same time, among other oddities required by COVID-19 protocols.

“I can only imagine the difference between this and a regular year,” said Hurts. “I can’t personally call on any past experiences of a regular NFL year. This is my first good go-round. I think this entire year from a leadership standpoint, from getting to know my teammates’ standpoint, I’ve tried to maximize that the best way I could.”

There is no question the athleticism he brings to the quarterback position is a big plus in his favor.

He somehow made an offense work adequately on Sunday night despite having deep reserves playing the tackle spots, with Brett Toth making his first NFL start and much-maligned Matt Pryor.

Sometimes, though, Hurts seems to flee the pocket too quickly, knowing that he does have the ability to make a play with his feet.

The fine line between making a play with his arm or his feet will be something that needs to be taught to find.

And that completion percentage...ugh.

“I think for me, I’ve always prided myself on being a coachable player, being able to take coaching, always open to coaching and being coached hard,” said Hurts. “That does nothing but make me better. More important, it makes the team better.”

Indeed, Hurts had some good teachers at Alabama in Nick Saban and his staff as well as Oklahoma with Lincoln Riley and his assistants.

Now, it’s Pederson and his staff’s turn to take a crack at molding Hurts into whatever professional career he will have.

“I think the biggest thing is the different successes I’ve had in college, having that kind of seeing it from a coach’s perspective,” said Hurts. “One thing is I’m going to get to the point of is just seeing how Coach sees it, getting on the same page as him, and going out there and executing.

“It’s a perk of playing against Coach Saban every day and his defense. You saw a lot of things in college and I think those things helped me coming into the NFL level. Being able to kind of see the defense and go out there and play ball. Everybody is great at this level. That’s the difference … I think moving forward, using those experiences from this year, learning from them and applying them and moving forward, there’s a lot that I’ll learn from. There’s a lot that will allow me to grow from those experience that I’ve had this year.”

So, how confident are you he can be the starter in 2021 because the answer to that question could be what determines the fate of Carson Wentz?

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