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July 11, 2022

Eagles' A.J. Brown defends Jalen Hurts after report of QB's struggles

Eagles NFL
AJ-Brown-Titans-Eagles.jpg George Walker IV/Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Eagles receiver A.J. Brown when he was still a member of the Tennessee Titans.

With two weeks left until training camp, and admittedly not all that much to talk about, Jalen Hurts has become an increasingly divisive quarterback, with opinions on him jockeying between the NFL's next breakout star and a run-of-the-mill game manager at best. 

Eagles insider Derrick Gunn, appearing in a recent podcast, added a bit of fuel to the fire with a report that Hurts had struggled through practices in the spring and that the team isn't entirely comfortable with him under center as a result. 

A.J. Brown was having none of it.

An excerpt of what Gunn said on Friday via NBC Sports Philadelphia:

"When I asked a few people back in late May about where Jalen Hurts was in his progress, one person said, 'Let me just give you a scenario of what he went through one day in practice. It was a 10-play scenario. He had three picks, four incompletions, and three sacks. That was his 10-play series.'

"And I followed up with, 'So what are you thinking?' And the direct answer was, 'He's got a ways to go.' And that's not very encouraging when you hear all this offseason news, 'He's worked with this quarterback guru, he's working on his mechanics, he has a second year in Nick Sirianni's playbook.'

"[...]

"The organization is not very comfortable right now with Jalen Hurts. Now, there's a lot of time between now and training camp and the regular season. But as of right now, the results have been iffy on this guy." [JAKIB Media]

Brown's response on Monday:

A follow-up:

And about that water thing:

Okay, so here's the deal: Gunn's a credible reporter who has been around the Eagles for years. He knows what he's doing. And Hurts is Brown's teammate and best friend. It's no surprise he came to his quarterback's defense (it'd be concerning if he didn't), Lane Johnson too, who has gone around publically praising the second-year starter of late. 

What Gunn heard also traces back to Eagles OTAs, and while they can offer a glimpse at where a team might be headed, and definitely gives fans something to chew on at a relatively slow point in the NFL offseason, there's only so much to be derived from them. 

For added context, our own Shamus Clancy went to both OTA sessions that were open to the media and walked away with good and bad from what he saw of 7-on-7 work after logging each pass attempt.

From the first practice in early June:

"As individual drills ended and the practice shifted to 7-on-7 work, Hurts' passing went on display. On his first throw, he connected deep down the right sideline to Smith for what we can ostensibly call a "touchdown." Outside of that throw he had to Quez Watkins in Week 2 against San Francisco last year, it's the best deep ball throw I've seen from him. Yes, it's just camp. A single throw doesn't move the needle on Hurts' career either way, but he was taking more shots down the field on Friday, as I will continue writing, and it's a welcomed element to his game. It was exciting for the first real Eagles action I saw and it brought loud cheers out of the other offensive players."
And the second a week later:

"• Hurts throw No. 12: Hurts rolls right and takes a load of time to get the ball out before throwing a diving pass that is caught. This is a situation where there's a give-and-take on how Hurts functions in a 7-on-7 setting. I'm sure the Eagles would like him to pristine in the pocket and just fire lasers in these looks, but that's just not who he is. This is a play where perhaps Hurts could've tuck it and run for seven or eight yards. His best traits are minimized in these makeshift setups. It's just something I want to keep in mind as camp draws closer and something that Eagles fans should do as well. 

"• Hurts throw No. 13: Okay, if you want to get hype up about Hurts and have that excitement carry over to your cookouts or beach sessions in the weeks to come, now's the time. John Hightower, my unofficial MVP of the day, caught a beautiful deep ball from Hurts, burning slot cornerback Avonte Maddox in the process for a "touchdown." It's the exact type of throw Eagles fans want him to make every time. A good sign!"

Again, there are two weeks left until training camp. Everyone's probably getting a bit anxious now. July 26 can't get here soon enough. 


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