May 27, 2022
Jalen Hurts was ranked 25th on NBC analyst Chris Simms' list of top 40 QBs going into the 2022 season.
He wasn't on the list at all last summer. Progress, right?
Wait...Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Daniel Jones are all ahead of him?...huh?
OK, look: The reality is that no one is even going to remember these kinds of lists once we're in the thick of the NFL season come September.
But we're in a relative dead zone in terms of NFL news right now. Training camp is still a ways off and OTAs are on the horizon but you can only derive so much from them.
Lists like these create discussion. So why not have that discussion for a sec?
First, there's the subject of Hurts not being ranked at all last year, and Simms addressed that in his podcast posted on Thursday.
"I was wrong last year," the former Bucs quarterback said said "I think that's fair to say. He was one of those first few guys off my list. I had questions about him. The way the 2020 season ended, I just went 'I'm not sure. I'm not sure he can do it.' Proved to me he can do it, but within that, I didn't come away watching every Jalen Hurts throw from last year or anything going 'Oh, he's definitely the future! They got it, there's no doubt about it. I was totally wrong.'"
Fair enough. Most Eagles fans are probably feeling optimistic right now that the 23-year old will take a big step forward going into his third season and just his second as the full-time starter.
But many still have their concerns and aren't necessarily ready to deem him the face of the franchise — the fallout from the last "franchise QB" is still lingering a bit, after all.
And while the Eagles, at this point, are going forward with Hurts this season and have publically committed to him in the past few months, there were rumors in the background that they were at least considering their other options.
"I think [the Eagles] told us that without telling us that, they're hopeful," Simms said. "I think what they're telling you too is a little bit what I started off saying: There are some things they see about him where you go 'man, I like that this guy's my starting quarterback.'"
Simms said Hurts' leadership, personality, and presence on the field are all pros. "I think he gives a team confidence in the fact that he is so humble and steadfast and works on his craft and never makes excuses," he said.
His decision-making and vision of the field didn't seem too bad either in Simms' estimation, and he also cited Hurts' strength at running and extending the play.
It's the arm strength that's a big problem for Simms' though and has long been a common criticism attached to Hurts.
"In the pocket, he's pretty damn good," Simms said. "But the throwing is definitely less than. And that's why from now and where we're at, I can't put him any higher than 25 right now."
Hurts threw for 3,144 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season and ran for 784 with 10 more TDs on the ground as the Eagles finished 9-8 to make a late push for a wild card spot.
The offense initially relied on Hurts through the passing game and they both struggled. It was only after a transition to a more run-heavy approach that they finally gained momentum.
Hurts rarely threw for more than 200 yards after that switch, which is a bit of a handicap on sustained success in the modern NFL, but Simms does believe that plan can still buy time for Hurts to develop a bit more.
"You don't abandon that formula you had at the end of the year, right? I don't," he explained. "You stay with that...Within that, you hope he stays there and then the things Jalen Hurts isn't the best at we continue to develop and get better to where it can maybe catch up by late November, December.
"Now you start to go 'Oh wait, we are playing a great defense this week that we can't just run the ball on every time, but he's grown a lot over here the last 10 or 12 weeks. We can throw the ball 35 times against this team and expect to win.' And that's where they're hoping to get."
OK, but still. Fields, Wilson, and Jones ahead of him? Really? When the Bears, Jets, and Giants were all flatout terrible?
You can see Simms' explanations for them below:
By the way, Gardner Minshew's 37th.
QB #37 Gardner Minshew— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) May 18, 2022
He's a natural QB. His arm might not even be as good as Bridgewater, but he knows how to play. Good decision maker, good in the pocket, and a leadership and moxie that is rare for a backup.
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