The Philadelphia Eagles are in South Florida getting ready for their final preseason game of the summer. While neither team’s starting quarterback is expected to play in the game, both are going at it in the joint practices this week. Here is comparing the brief careers of Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa who were once college teammates.
Their Alabama Days
Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa both entered the University of Alabama as four-star recruits in 2016 and 2017. Hurts took over Alabama’s starting quarterback role as a true freshman in 2016. He was named the SEC Freshman and SEC Offensive Player of the Year for his 2,780 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns, 954 rushing yards, and 13 rushing touchdowns over the course of 2016. Hurts and the Crimson Tide finished the season with a National Championship loss to Clemson.
Tagovailoa entered the quarterback room in 2017 as Hurts’ backup. He saw plenty of playing time in the second half of games as Alabama built up some big leads against inferior opponents. In the National Championship game against Georgia, Hurts was benched after half-time in favor of Tagovailoa. Jalen Hurts was just three for eight passing the ball for 21 yards through two quarters. Tagovailoa ended up leading the Crimson Tide to a thrilling 26-23 victory in overtime. Current Eagles receiver Devonta Smith caught the game winning touchdown.
The National Championship performance by both quarterbacks was the unofficial end of Hurts’ time as a starter in Alabama. Tagovailoa started all the games in 2018 while Hurts got playing time mostly in second half blowout games.
Hurts finished the 2018 season with 765 passing yards and eight touchdowns while Tagovailoa had nearly 4,000 passing yards and 43 touchdowns. Hurts redeemed himself in the SEC Championship Game in 2018 taking over for an injured Tagovailoa leading the Crimson Tide to a comeback victory over Georgia. Alabama ended up losing the National Championship to Clemson with Tagovailoa back as quarterback.
Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa went their separate ways in 2019. Hurts wanted an opportunity to start and prove himself as an NFL-ready player, so he transferred to Oklahoma. At Oklahoma, Hurts had 3,800 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns, 1,300 rushing yards, and 20 rushing touchdowns. He was the Heisman runner-up to Joe Burrow and brought the Sooners to the College Football Playoff. Tagovailoa stayed in Alabama and led the Crimson Tide to an 8-1 record as a starter before missing the rest of the season due to injury.
2020 NFL Draft
Hurts finished his four seasons of eligibility while Tagovailoa skipped his senior year to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Tagovailoa went fifth overall to the Miami Dolphins while Hurts was selected in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles in a surprise pick. Neither quarterback was the opening day starter for their team. Miami had Ryan Fitzpatrick while Philadelphia had Carson Wentz.
Hurts: Four Starts, 1-3 Record, 1,061 Passing Yards, 52% Completion Rate, Six Touchdowns, Four Interceptions, 354 Rushing Yards, Three Rushing Touchdowns, Two Lost Fumbles
Tagovailoa: Nine Starts, 6-3 Record, 1,814 Passing Yards, 64% Completion Rate, 11 Touchdowns, Five Interceptions, 109 Rushing Yards, Three Rushing Touchdowns, One Lost Fumble
The 2020 season was like no other due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Practice schedules were altered, and the preseason was cancelled which delayed the development of both quarterbacks. Tagovailoa made his first start in Week Eight as he replaced an aging veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick. He led the Dolphins to a winning record down the stretch as the team finished 10-6. The AFC was very competitive, so Miami missed the playoffs.
The Eagles hit rock-bottom in 2020 which was just three seasons removed from their Super Bowl season. Quarterback Carson Wentz struggled and went 3-8-1 as a starter through the first three months. Wentz had the Eagles down 20-3 against the Packers when head coach Doug Pederson inserted Jalen Hurts who almost brought the Eagles back. Hurts started the December games which were more competitive, but he only recorded one win as a starter. The Eagles finished the season with a disappointing 4-11-1 record.
Hurts: 15 Starts, 8-7 Record, 3,144 Passing Yards, 61% Completion Rate, 16 Touchdowns, Nine Interceptions, 784 Rushing Yards, 10 Rushing Touchdowns, Two Lost Fumbles
Tagovailoa: 12 Starts, 7-5 Record, 2,653 Passing Yards, 68% Completion Rate, 16 Touchdowns, 10 Interceptions, 128 Rushing Yards, Three Rushing Touchdowns, One Lost Fumbles
In 2021, the Eagles made the surprise move of trading away Carson Wentz to the Colts which meant Jalen Hurts was going to be the full-time starter at quarterback. Head coach Doug Pederson was also let go. Hurts had an up and down season but got the Eagles into the playoffs. He was a threat as both a passer and a runner, but the Eagles’ biggest strength in 2021 was their running game. The Eagles overcame a slow start to the season to reach the playoffs at 9-8 but were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tagovailoa and the Dolphins got off to an even worse start to the 2021 season. After eight games, the Dolphins were just 1-7. Tua missed some time to injury and did not play well at all. The Dolphins did get back to winning and put together a seven-game win streak before getting eliminated from playoff contention in a week 17 loss to the Titans. Tagovailoa’s play improved as the year went on, but like Hurts, he was not consistent enough. Tua missed a total of four games to injury while Hurts only missed one. Despite the Dolphins finishing with a 9-8 record, the team dismissed head coach Brian Flores following the season.
Both quarterbacks are going to be under intense pressure once the 2022 season begins. Miami and Philadelphia are in win-now modes but need their quarterbacks to take the next step. Fans and media have been critical of both team’s QBs questioning whether they are legitimate long-term starters in the league.
This past offseason, the Dolphins gave Tua a boost by trading for wide receiver Tyreek Hill while the Eagles traded for receiver A.J. Brown. Both receivers are among the best in the game and give their quarterbacks a true number one target.
Both quarterbacks also have former college teammates to throw the ball to. Tua has Jaylen Waddle while Jalen Hurts has Devonta Smith. Overall, Miami and Philadelphia have talented rosters surrounding their starting quarterbacks. Both teams also have young offensive minded coaches. It will be interesting to see which quarterback and team takes a bigger step this year.
There are a lot of similarities between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. It is going to be a big year for both quarterbacks to prove themselves as long-term solutions for their respective teams. Fans in both cities are expecting their teams to take a major step forward from a year ago.
Which former teammate will have a better career, Hurts or Tagovailoa? Let us know in the comments. Check out our latest content and don’t forget to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for more Eagles coverage.