Aiden Konold ’26
For many, when Hurts So Good is thrown around, the thought of John Mellencamp’s 1982 hit of the same name likely comes to mind. But, this phrase can also be used to refer to the extraordinary development of Jalen Hurts into an MVP-caliber QB this season. When my beloved Philadelphia Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, many fans were skeptical, yet Hurts is currently just days away from leading his team against the Kansas City Chiefs in Phoenix, Arizona in Super Bowl LVII and is among the five finalists for the NFL’s MVP award after leading his team to the number one seed in the NFC.
When Hurts was drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft, 2016 second overall pick Carson Wentz was the Eagles’ bona fide starter, maintaining a 33-24 record as a starting quarterback in his four years in the league. Though relatively successful as a starter record wise, after Wentz tore his ACL at the end of his 2017 campaign, he continued to deal with injuries moving forward, keeping him off the field for parts of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and more importantly, keeping him from playing in playoff games. The only playoff game in which Wentz started, he went down with a concussion in the first quarter after a blow to the head by the Seahawks’ Jadeveon Clowney in a home Wild Card game in January of 2020. Going into the 2020 NFL Draft, despite the disfavor of the Eagles’ fan base in drafting Hurts in the second round, the Eagles’ front office had reason to be skeptical of Wentz’s ability to stay healthy. Though Wentz started at quarterback for much of the 2020 NFL regular season, he struggled mightily, going 3-8-1 as a starter and throwing 15 interceptions, his highest as a starting quarterback, causing the Eagles to start Jalen Hurts in four games towards the end of the season, a span during which he went 1-3, struggling at times to be a successful NFL passer.
Prior to the 2021 NFL season, the Eagles finally decided to cut ties with Wentz, sending him to the Colts in exchange for a 2021 third round pick and a 2022 first-round pick. Some Eagles fans were a little perplexed and frustrated that the Eagles had decided to move on from Wentz after one bad season, while there was so much uncertainty surrounding Hurts, a quarterback who had only started in four NFL games and looked far from a franchise quarterback in those starts. Some of this frustration was exacerbated when Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie decided to part ways with Head Coach Doug Pederson, which Wentz supporters believed he did primarily because of Pederson’s strong relationship with Wentz and his want to keep him as the starting quarterback. After parting ways with Pederson, Lurie brought in Nick Sirianni as the new head coach, who had spent the previous three seasons as the Colts’ offensive coordinator. In Sirianni’s first season as the Eagles’ head coach, he led them to a 9-8 record and a playoff berth as the seventh seed, with Hurts starting in 15 of those regular season games, going 8-7 and throwing 16 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions; decent numbers, but nothing great. In his first playoff game in Tampa against the Buccaneers, Hurts struggled mightily, completing just over 50% of his passes and one touchdown, getting picked off twice.
After a decent, but not exceptional, 2021 campaign, the Eagles decided to load their roster with offensive superpower to allow for Hurts to fully develop into a quality NFL passer. The Eagles decided to use the 2022 first round pick they received from the Colts alongside the 101st overall pick in that year’s draft to acquire star Titans wideout A.J. Brown to complement DeVonta Smith, their 2021 first round pick who set the Eagles’ franchise rookie receiving yards record. Such moves demonstrated a willingness of the Eagles’ front office to go all in on Hurts, providing him with the necessary resources to develop fully as an NFL quarterback, specifically as a passer. And, wow, did these moves pay off dividends in Jalen Hurts’ development!
This season, Hurts went 14-1 as a starter, his team going 0-2 in games in which he wasn’t under center. Hurts led the Eagles to the number one seed in the NFC, accounting for 35 total touchdowns, 22 in the air and 13 on the ground, while turning the ball over just six times. 11 of Hurts’ passing touchdowns went to Brown and 7 to Smith, budding into one of the league’s top receiving duos. In addition, Hurts threw for 3,701 yards and rushed for 760 more. Such stellar regular season statistics have led to Hurts being one of five nominees for the NFL’s MVP award, an award that will be given out after this article is edited and before it is printed. Even more impressive is the fact that after leading his team to the one seed in the NFC, Hurts was able to pull through in big playoff games. In the divisional round at home against the budding Giants, Hurts was able to silence any doubters, leading the Eagles to a 38-7 rout of New York, completing close to 67% of his passes for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns and adding another score on the ground. In the NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers, Hurts was once again able to lead his team to victory, albeit against a 4th string quarterback of the 49ers in Josh Johnson after Brock Purdy tore his UCL early in the game, though he did return later without the ability to throw. In the NFC Championship Game, though, Hurts’ statistics were much less impressive, completing exactly 60% of his passes for 121 yards and no touchdowns, though he did score once on the ground on the way to a 31-7 victory, leading his team to the promised land: Super Bowl LVII against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, which will be played this weekend at 6:30 pm on FOX.
This weekend’s Super Bowl matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs and Super Bowl LIV champion Patrick Mahomes will serve as Hurts’ biggest test yet, a challenge he seems more than ready to take on and once again silence any and all doubters, proving he is capable of playing his best when the stakes are highest. Regardless of this, Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie has said that Hurts has nothing to prove in this game, as he has already demonstrated to the organization that he is more than capable of being their long-term solution at quarterback. For a quarterback of a team whose fans once questioned drafting in the first place, it’s rather remarkable that Hurts has developed into an MVP-caliber quarterback and taken his team to the Super Bowl in just his second full season as an NFL starter. As a lifelong Eagles’ fan, this development hurts — it Hurts So Good.
Featured image courtesy of Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Let’s Go Eagles! Make it Hurt so good!