November 10, 2023
For the second time in as many seasons, the Eagles are off to an 8-1 start. The last NFL team to rip off back-to-back 8-1 seasons was the Indianapolis Colts in 2005 and 2006. The '06 Colts finished that campaign hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. If the Eagles avenge their blown chance from February this upcoming winter, it'll be due to star power of Jalen Hurts.
Hurts has had some inconsistent moments in 2023, but is truly rounding into form as a passer, solidifying himself once more as an MVP candidate. As Eagles fans breathe a sigh of relief heading into the bye week with the league's best record, here's a look at some of the numbers that demonstrate Hurts' stellar season...
It's clear that Hurts isn't 100 percent healthy even though both he and the team remain mum on the subject. That's affected his mobility this season to a degree. The quarterback is noticeably a tick slower when tucking and running the ball, which he's also doing less frequently than in the first three seasons of his career. The Eagles have a star-studded offensive line, sure, but Hurts has been hurried 36 times this season, the third most of any QB, and pressured 75 times, the fifth most of NFL signal-callers.
With defenders in his face and his pure athleticism hampered, Hurts is still getting it done as a passer more than ever before. Despite those pressure and hurry numbers, Hurts has had pinpoint accuracy. His on-target throw percentage is 81.4 percent, per pro-football-reference. That's tied for the fifth-best mark in the league. His bad throw percentage is only 11.3 percent, which is the third-lowest rate in the league.
Gone are the worries of Hurts' rookie season when he posted a woeful completion percentage of 52.0 percent, as are the frequent checkdowns and short passes of 2021. Hurts' air yards, the amount of yards a ball travels in the air before finding a receiver, on completed passes rank tied for fourth in the NFL (1,340). Having A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith to throw the ball up to certainly helps of course. For comparison's sake, Hurts' air yards on completions were 12th in 2022 (1,928) and 21st in 2021 (1,681).
Hurts isn't picking up huge chunk gains on the ground. There are no ankle-breaking moments like his electric touchdown scamper against the Saints two years ago, but the infamous "Tush Push" showcases that Hurts is still a force and, try as they might, teams around the NFL can't quite execute it like the Eagles do.
"He has those quads that support that knee. We call it static stabilizers, which are the ligaments, the bones, the meniscus, but the dynamic stabilizers are the muscles," Dr. Dinesh Dhanaraj, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at St. Mary Orthopaedics told PhillyVoice when asked about Hurts' health and physical profile. "That's where he has a lot of secondary stabilizers going for him."
The cries of Hurts being able to squat 600 pounds have become a meme for Eagles fans online and those gains pay off mightily in those short-yardage situations.
Hurts has the most rushing first downs in the NFL entering Week 10 with 39. He's only averaging 3.6 yards per carry though, a downturn from 2022 (4.6 YPC) and 2021 (5.6). With the lack of QB scrambles due to likely knee issues and the Eagles' reliance on the "Tush Push," that's not too unexpected, but, again, it illustrates what a force he is when he plows across the line of scrimmage.
Here are the NFL first down leaders while displaying the disparity in yards per carry:
Having a quarterback who can both run and pass well? That's not a bad combination!
Hurts is a winner, plain and simple. As a starter, he's amassed a record of 31-12 in the NFL. He's won 25 of his last 27 starts, a bonkers figure. These are the quarterbacks who've accomplished that:
According to @EliasSports, Jalen Hurts is just the fifth #NFL QB since 1950 to win 25+ games over the span of 27 starts in the regular season. The others:— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) November 6, 2023
• The 🐐.
• The second-best quarterback of the 21st century who, really, I'd consider the second-best QB ever.
• A guy who game-managed the best defense of all time.
• The pre-Tom Brady 🐐.
No disrespect to the wild antics of Jim McMahon, but one of those things is not like the other. If Hurts is able to lead the Eagles to a championship this season, he will be inching closer to the hallowed tier of the Bradys, Mannings and Montanas in NFL lore.
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