Bob Whalon is a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan and Eagles season ticket holder, so he's seen more than his share of losing over the years.
Apparently I am the only person who watched the Philadelphia Eagles 31-15 playoff loss to the Tamp Bay Buccaneers last January. How else to explain the fact that everyone seems to think Eagles QB Jalen Hurts is some sort of star in the making?
Jalen Hurts is simply not a good quarterback. He can't read defenses very well. His delivery is slow. And Stevie Wonder can see that Hurts doesn't have the arm strength to be a franchise QB. He can't get the ball deep downfield regularly enough and he doesn't have adequate zip on his passes for out patterns. So why is everyone in the national and local Philly media so convinced that Hurts is going to make this giant step forward in his progression as a QB and become a star? Allow me to present you with a heaping dose of reality.
If anyone watched that fateful playoff game against the Bucs, they would have seen how a good defense can stop a running QB. And let's just all agree that, at best, Jalen Hurts is a running QB. His pocket presence leaves a lot to be desired and that's behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. He basically looks at his first and maybe second read, then takes off running. Sure, that can win you some regular season games against inferior opponents, but that won't cut it in the playoffs. Just ask Lamar Jackson, who has an MVP award and only one playoff win.
Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was even caught on camera saying that Hurts couldn't beat their defense with his arm. He was right.
Assuming other NFL teams saw the tape of that playoff game, they now have a pretty clear blueprint on how to completely shut down Jalen Hurts. Hurts can't roll to his left. He just can't, if you expect him to actually complete a pass. So defensive coordinators are going to simply prevent Hurts from running out of the pocket with either a "mush rush", or blitzing off their left side (Hurts' right side) and forcing Hurts to his left. For proof, I'll tell you that last season Hurts only completed 22-of-62 passes for 498 yards, with 2 TDs and 3 INTs when rolling to his left. That's not good.
I know Eagles fans are still acting like jilted lovers after Carson Wentz forced his way out of town, but that doesn't mean Hurts is a better QB. Actually all the statistics say Wentz was better than Hurts last season.
|Completions||Yards||Comp.%||Passing TDs||INTs||QB Rating|
Shocking, right? Now I'm sure all you Hurts defenders are going to tell me about his rushing stats. OK, fair enough. Hurts added 784 yards rushing and another 10 TDs. But here's the thing. Those are good stats for a RB, not a QB. As I said before, running QBs don't win championships in the NFL. Go ahead, try to think of one. I'll wait. Yeah, didn't think so.
Can Hurts improve on those passing numbers now that he's got AJ Brown as his #1 WR? Absolutely. But everyone is making it sound like that's a forgone conclusion. It's absolutely not. Now that defensive coordinators have a full season of tape on Hurts (not to mention that Todd Bowles instructional video) nobody is going to allow him to run. Replacing Jalen Reagor with Brown is like replacing Rosie O'Donnell with Kate Upton. That alone should help Hurts improve his passing stats, but it isn't going to be the monumental leap everyone seems to be predicting.
Hurts' completion percentage last season had him ranked 26th out of 31 QBs who started at least 10 games. His 16 TD passes were tied for 23rd. Those are not good numbers for a QB many are expecting to lead the Eagles on a deep playoff run. Hurts also only threw 4 TD passes in the redzone in the last 8 games last season. Unacceptable.
The other thing the Hurts backers bring up is his intangibles. Yes, Jalen Hurts works hard. He's a good leader. Blah, blah, blah. You know who else worked hard and was a good leader? Tim Tebow. There isn't a person alive who would tell you that Tim Tebow was a good NFL QB (except maybe Tim's mom), yet he won a playoff game and Hurts has not. Tebow didn't have a long NFL career as a starting QB because he didn't have the arm for it. Sorry to break it to you Eagles fans, but Jalen Hurts is Tim Tebow. Tebow is Hurts.
Hurts is Tebow. Tebow is Hurts
I also keep hearing this narrative that Hurts was a great college QB. Not only is that unimportant in the NFL (again, see: Tebow, Tim), but Hurts was not a great college QB. Sure he put up stats in his one season at Oklahoma, but they don't play any defense in that conference. And let's not forget that the only reason he played at Oklahoma is that he got benched as the starting QB at Alabama and transferred. If the best college coach of this generation, Nick Saban, thinks you aren't even good enough to be a starting college QB, why would that same player be such a great option as a starting NFL QB? Hell, even the Eagles didn't think Hurts was a starting-caliber NFL QB. They drafted him in the second round to be a backup to Wentz, due to Wentz's injury history.
It's a shame that I think Hurts is going to hold the Eagles offense back, because I think the team has improved since last year and would actually be a Super Bowl contender with a legitimate franchise QB under center. They still have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. The receiving core is a strength after GM-for-Life Howie Roseman has now spent a first round pick three years in a row on WRs (Reagor in 2020, Devonta Smith in 2021 and trading a first rounder for Brown in 2022). And the running game, behind that O-line, led the NFL in rushing last season. But the NFL is a passing league and the Eagles don't have a QB capable of being the elite passer that every championship team needs.
The Eagles vastly improved their defense, although I still question trading up in the first round for a part-time, run-stuffing nose tackle when the safety they so desperately needed was still available. Hell, Jordan Davis wasn't even a full-time player in college, averaging only 25 snaps a game. But they finally went out and signed some LBs and if they actually let Hasan Reddick rush the passer, their anemic pass rush (2nd fewest in the NFL in 2021) might actually be league-average. Now if defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon gets his CBs in the same ZIP code as the opposing team's WRs this year, maybe the defense will actually become a plus. I honestly can't take another season of his death by a thousand cuts, bend but don't break defense. Maybe the upgrade in talent will also lead to an upgrade in Gannon's aggressiveness in his play-calling.
The most common thing everyone cites as to why the Eagles are going to be great this year is their schedule. Yes, on paper it looks like there are more cupcakes than you would find in a bakery. But every year there are teams that surprise you, so it might not be as easy as it looks. Plus, what are the odds the Eagles will get to face a bunch of third-string QBs like they did in the second half of last season. NFL schedules simply don't get any easier than that.
I really do want to be excited about this Eagles season. The team has some great players and has definitely improved the overall talent. But I just can't get past the fact that Jalen Hurts' arm is going to hold this team back for reaching even the second round of the playoffs.
They should win the NFC East after the Cowboys took a step back this offseason and the Commanders (still doesn't sound right) and Giants are perpetually awful. Unfortunately, all that is going to do is worsen their draft position next year, when they will be desperately searching for an actual franchise QB, because Jalen Hurts is most definitely not one.