Skip to main content

Jalen Hurts' dual-threat ability is well documented, perhaps the No. 1 trait in the young quarterback's toolbox during his leap from question mark to MVP candidate in only his third year as a professional and second as a starter.

More so, the gift shows up most often just as things get far tighter on the field for most other quarterbacks, in the limited space of the red zone.

The NFL's only 9-1 team is No. 4 in the league when it comes to red-zone offense and coming off a 17-16 win in Indianapolis capped off by a brilliant seven-yard touchdown run by Hurts with only 80 seconds remaining.

The success has spawned an exciting environment with the coaching staff which is enjoying the versatility Hurts provides.

“My favorite meeting personally of the week is the low red zone,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “It’s a long meeting. It’s a grind where you’re thinking about plays that … you probably get about five to seven of them, and that’s a lot, right? But it’s the grimiest, longest meeting that we have of the week, and I always look forward to that so much.

"There are just so many things that can happen, and we know when you get down there … hey, these are four-point plays, right?”

The four points, of course, are the difference between settling for a Jake Elliott field goal and a touchdown, something Hurts was able to produce in Indy thanks to a Shane Steichen tweak which motioned Boston Scott from an empty set back into the backfield. 

The Colts were on high alert for QB draw and bought the eye wash Scott provided, thinking a more traditional pass play was on the horizon.

The Red Sea parted, Hurts' scampered in the end zone and the angst of two consecutive losses was avoided.

Most coaching staffs simply have to throw the football on third-and-goal from the seven-yard line, severely limiting things in the tightest environment possible.

“The thought process there was, ‘Hey, hopefully they play their third-down coverages in that situation,’ which they did, which was awesome, and it was like, ‘Hey, if we can get this down even to the 2- or 3-yard line, it gives us a chance at fourth-and-goal from the 2 or 3,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. 

“We did it out of the three-by-one set, which everyone saw. It was just a different way of doing it because we’ve been doing it from different sets, but just to give it a little different wrinkle from that look and it worked out well.”

Hurts' abilities have given the Eagles' offensive staff more freedom than just about any other team in the league when it comes to the red zone, something that starts with a four-down mentality and the propensity to run the ball more than most but usually in more unconventional ways.

The results have been a TD 21 times vs. four field goals and a lot of freedom when it comes to diagramming plays.

"We go through every little detail to get it right," said Steichen, "and there’s a lot of stuff because we know when we get down in there tight, teams might play us differently than most."


-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Football 24/7 and a daily contributor to ESPN South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen