What can’t Jalen Hurts do?
It’s a question Eagles fans have constantly asked themselves over the past year.
Last season, Hurts was the MVP regular season runner-up and the Super Bowl runner-up, both times to Patrick Mahomes. Both are signs of Hurts’ ascendancy to becoming one of the top young quarterbacks in the National Football League. Hurts’ quick ascendancy, though, was never a sure thing.
After being drafted with the 53rd overall pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Hurts was uncertain about his place in the NFL. The Eagles already had a four-year starter and 2016 second-overall NFL Draft pick Carson Wentz as their starting quarterback, and Wentz had just signed a four-year, $128 million extension. Many Eagles fans were perplexed as to why the organization would use such a valuable draft pick on a quarterback. They already had their franchise quarterback in Wentz. Why not use the pick to surround Wentz with more weapons at the wide receiver position?
Eagles’ GM Howie Roseman had a plan. Over the years, Roseman has cemented himself as one of the best GMs in the NFL, doing a great job of drafting young talent. Roseman’s somewhat controversial selection of Hurts in the 2020 NFL Draft has paid off great dividends for the Eagles. It is reflective of Roseman’s knack to differentiate between good and great young players.
When Hurts was drafted, it seemed that Wentz would be the franchise quarterback, and Wentz had been an MVP-caliber quarterback in his first several years in the league. Roseman knew, though, that Wentz had been plagued by injuries as well the past few seasons. At the time of the 2020 NFL Draft, Wentz had missed 8 regular season games since he tore his ACL in Week 13 of the 2017 campaign.
Wentz played very poorly in the 2020 NFL season, going 3-8-1 as a starter. He threw for just 16 touchdowns while throwing 15 interceptions. This marked a career-high in interceptions for Wentz.
Hurts took a role much like Taysom Hill had for the Saints for much of the 2020 NFL season. In the Eagles’ Week 14 home game against the New Orleans Saints, Hurts was ultimately named the starting quarterback against who else but Hill. Though Hurts won his first career start; he lost his next two. Hurts, however, was forced to deal with a lot of pressure in the 2020 season as uncertainty remained surrounding his position as an everyday NFL starting quarterback. After Wentz was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 offseason, Hurts was finally the de facto starter in Philly.
In his first season as the everyday starter, Hurts threw for just over 3,000 yards and 16 touchdowns while running for just over 760 yards and 10 more touchdowns. Hurts also went 8-7 as a starter, leading the Eagles to a Wild Card matchup in Tampa against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Though the Eagles’ ultimately lost 31-15, it served as a great learning moment for Hurts.
This past season, Hurts threw for just over 3,700 yards and 22 touchdowns while rushing for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns. His passer rating improved from 81.8 in his first full season to 101.9 in his second full season. Hurts came in second in MVP voting and led the Eagles all the way to the 2022 Super Bowl against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Eagles’ organization was obviously impressed by Hurts’ great improvement throughout his time in Philly. After a season in which Hurts showed he could be a leader on and off the field, he was offered a 5 year, $255 million contract. Hurts signed the contract, which was negotiated between his agent, Nicole Lynn, and Eagles’ GM, Howie Roseman. The $179 million in guaranteed money Hurts will receive after signing the contract ranks second in the NFL, behind just Deshaun Watson, the current Cleveland Browns’ QB.
As if the money Hurts just earned and everything he has accomplished on the field is not enough, Hurts went on to earn his Master’s degree in human relations this past offseason. Hurts has always been a diligent student. He finished his bachelor’s degree in public relations and information sciences at the University of Alabama in just three years before transferring to Oklahoma as a graduate student in 2019.
Hurts’ greatest inspiration in working towards his Master’s degree has been his mother, Pamela. Mrs. Hurts earned her Master’s degree in counseling, all while raising Jalen and his siblings.
Jalen started the pathway toward earning his Master’s as a graduate student while playing football at Oklahoma. During his very busy 2022 campaign in the NFL, Hurts was still able to manage to take online classes on the pathway to earning his Master’s degree.
Hurts, as a competitor, always wants to finish what he starts. And as a Sooner, Hurts prefers to finish what he starts sooner rather than later. As Hurts said in a recent Instagram post about earning his Master’s, “I Know Momma is Proud Of This One.” There is much to be proud about for Mrs. Hurts and Eagles fans right now.
Featured Image: WVTM 13 NBC / Jalen Hurts' Instagram account