The Eagles went into the 2021 season with a new day-one starter in Jalen Hurts, after trading away their franchise fulcrum Carson Wentz.
The 23-year-old was solid in his first full year as the starter. The former second-round draft pick racked up 3,144 yards passing on route to a respectable 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He was dangerous with his legs as well, pacing the team in rushing yards and touchdowns. Hurts scored ten times on the ground, breaking off a blistering 784 rushing yards.
Not everyone was convinced though. Hurts had moments where he looked like a franchise quarterback, running and throwing his way to a 6-2 stretch in his last eight starts. Unfortunately one of those losses had Hurts throwing three interceptions and ending the game with a 17.5 passer rating.
Hurts had a solid year, with glimpses of absolute brilliance along with flashes of inconsistency and head-scratching inaccuracy. Entering his third year, there is optimism within the fanbase that they have their starter for the future.
Here, we look back at Hurts’ four best performances in 2021, with the hope he can build further on his highlight reel this season.
Week One – @ Atlanta Falcons – W, 32-6
What a way to begin the season. Hurts came out firing with an incredible game through the air. He completed 27 of his 35 passing attempts for 264 yards. Better yet, the second-year pro had three touchdowns and no interceptions. On the ground, he dominated for 62 yards on only seven attempts.
Hurts began the season in stride, with a 126.4 passer rating and most importantly an opening week victory. Although not indicative of the first half of the season that rendered the Eagles wounded at 2-5, this was nonetheless an impressive start.
Week Four – Vs. Kansas City Chiefs – L, 30-42
You may ask why a loss is appearing on Hurts’ highlight reel. Quarterback wins are often a very important, albeit contentious statistic, so why have a loss within this list?
387 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. That is exactly why. Hurts even added 47 yards on the ground on just eight carries. He finished the game with a fantastic 105.1 passer rating and completed two-thirds of his passes. Not only that but Hurts achieved all of this despite facing 17 blitz attempts by Chief’s defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. It was the most frequent blitz rate he faced in a single game in the 2021 season. He was pressured on more than 30% of his throws, yet still managed to have a stellar game.
Week 11 – Vs. New Orleans Saints – W, 40-29
Unconventionally, this game gets a nod as Hurts just did whatever it took to win.
While his game looked ugly through the air, completing only 13 of his 24 attempts for 147 yards and a 72.7 passer rating, Hurts used his legs to dominate this game. He had 69 yards on 18 attempts, which amounted to less than four yards per carry, but came up huge with three scores.
Similarly, he took care of the football against a stingy defense that forced 25 turnovers this season, not giving the ball up at all.
As a side note for fantasy football fanatics, this constituted Hurts’ best game of the year, with 30.8 fantasy points.
Week 14 – Vs. Washington Commanders – W, 27-17
Despite losing one of his two fumbles and tossing one interception in this game, and the Commanders rushing out to a 10-0 lead in the contest, Hurts hit a rhythm and played well for the rest of the game. He led a dominating comeback to outscore Washington 27-7 in the last three quarters.
Hurts finished the game 20 of 26 through the air for 296 yards and a score and chipped in 38 yards on the ground with two scores. Hurts showed flashes of a more developed intermediate and deep passing game, hitting Goedert for a long of 45 yards, Reagor for 34, and Smith for 28.
His only interception bizarrely came off TE Dallas Goedert’s foot into the waiting arms of safety Landon Collins.
What Can We Expect In 2022?
With three first-round picks, one likely to go to a wide receiver prospect, we can justifiably raise our expectations of Jalen Hurts. While the incumbent starter played well at times during the season, Eagles fans are seeking more consistency out of the second-round pick entering his third year as a pro.
First and foremost, the Eagles will need to continue to lean on their power-rushing attack. If done effectively, the play-action, bootleg and run option concepts that they can leverage from the run will give opposing defenses headaches.
Secondly, the Eagles must get Hurts another weapon. This will be so critical in his development, especially if they can get a receiver with truly elite deep threat skills. With Goedert and Smith proving to be reliable core weapons, the quarterback will need a deep threat to help stretch the field.
Thirdly, trust in the process. Hurts was effective when the offense was built around the run. He will need patience and will experience speed bumps, but I believe he will take the next step in 2022.
Here’s hoping this list can be even better next year.
What was your favorite moment of Jalen Hurts’ first year as a starter?