Opportunity Knocks for Jalen Hurts

The Eagles QB1 is excited for the chance to seize what began under the Friday Night Lights in South Texas
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PHILADELPHIA - Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is wise beyond his 23 years when it comes to navigating the white noise that comes with his job description as the face of an NFL franchise.

Hurts is already somewhat famous for his "rent is due" tagline, which is a prophetic piece of wisdom on a number of levels.

The thin line of performance is the only thing keeping every NFL QB from the bench but it also doesn't matter if you're a future Hall of Famer like Tom Brady or a rookie signal-caller like Trevor Lawrence, everyone is renting in this league.

No one buys.

The most successful have a lengthy shelf life and that's Hurts' goal in 2021 as he shifts from a cost-effective insurance policy for Carson Wentz to either one of two end games: the Eagles' future at the game's most important position or the placeholder for the next flavor of the month.

Hurts, ever the optimist, is focused on the open door that is in front of him.

“I’m just excited for the opportunity John,” Hurts remarked when talking with SI.com's Eagle Maven last week. "... “I texted [my dad] last week and I said ‘hey this is, this is another year we get to do what we love, you know? This is another year, where we're around the game of football. We love this game so much.

“... I'm thankful for that opportunity to play this game and I'm excited for what's to come.”

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Hurts is sharing that excitement with his young playmakers, a trio of receivers expected to grow with the young QB in the ensuing years.

That group includes first-round rookie DeVonta Smith, who played with Hurts in college at Alabama, and two second-year wideouts - Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins - who arrived in Philadelphia in the same draft class with Hurts.

“I will say it’s exciting to experience these new nuances of life, you know, the nuances of the game is all new to us,” Hurts said. “And it's something new that we're going to experience together and I think that's exciting.

“... We've obviously put in a lot of work together, thus far. We will overcome. Together. ... we will go through it all together.”

While others may hand-wring over what's to come Sunday in Atlanta and the ensuing 16 games that will follow, Hurts isn't concerned about any debates over whether he's the answer or just a pit-stop for the Eagles.

The young QB focuses on the things he began to learn back in Channelview, Texas, a suburb about 20 minutes outside of Houston.  

He looks back and sees the Friday Night Lights in the Lone Star State first shaped a football future that was further refined under Nick Saban in Atlanta and Lincoln Riley in Oklahoma.

The football-crazy college environments in Tuscaloosa and Norman were fertile breeding crowds for what awaited Hurts in Philadelphia, perhaps the most passionate fan base at the professional level.

Yet, at times, all of the pageantry and filled stadiums pale in comparison to those Fridays in Texas.

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“[Former NFL QB] Philip Rivers says something about the value of high school football and I think it’s very, very true,” said Hurts. “... Those are times that you'll never get back. The kids you grew up with. The kids you matured with you and you go out there on those Friday nights where you play for a prideful town, a prideful school.

"You have your neighborhood rivalries or whatever but great memories and I mean in Texas, it doesn’t get any bigger than Texas high school football.”

Once you've conquered that, the rest is easy, and Hurts' path forward is clear.

"We're all out there, we're all out there chasing the same goals. We're chasing the same dreams," Hurts said of his current teammates. "We have the same aspirations and that aspiration is to win, and to do that, you have to know who you are doing it with."

The QB1 was recently named a team captain and has taken head coach Nick Sirianni's core values and made it his mission to instill them into the Eagles' DNA.

Jalen Hurts at his first practice after being named the official QB1

Jalen Hurts

"It means the world," said Hurts when discussing the captaincy earlier this week. "It’s a tremendous honor. I’ve obviously seen the guys before me that have been named captain. Growing up as a kid, you see captains and you see the ‘C’ on their chests and all those things.

"It exemplifies more than that. It exemplifies the hard work that goes into it. The relationships that you built with your teammates, and the whole bunch. For everybody to grant me that and allow me to lead and to do those things, I’m excited and don’t take it lightly."

Instilling Sirianni's vision was important to Hurts and he tries to echo the coach's five core values as much as possible.

"I think Coach Sirianni coming in and bringing the core values that he brought into the football team, to connect, fundamentals and football IQ, accountability and competing, all of those things are very important in this game we play, and we love to play," he said.

Hurts will ultimately be judged like any other quarterback - by what he does on the football field.

It's what goes on away from it that's set up Hurts for success.

"Anything that I do, I always try to go out and be myself," he said. "Be myself and be the best version of myself I can be. And that's just been a genuine person trying to do things the right way leading by example."

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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.