Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts plays through pain
Despite knee injury, the star quarterback still shines for Philadelphia, No. 1 in NFC East
The praise rolled in for quarterback Jalen Hurts immediately after the Philadelphia Eagles’ 31-17 victory over the visiting Miami Dolphins in Week 7.
Obviously playing through pain in the first half at Lincoln Financial Field, Hurts emerged from the Eagles’ locker room after halftime wearing a brace on his left leg. The Eagles have been tight-lipped about Hurts’ injury, but it is believed he has a knee problem.
Although Hurts played well while leading the team to its sixth victory in seven games this season, what most impressed Hurts’ teammates and Eagles coaches was that he played at all. In Philadelphia, Hurts’ toughness – physical as well as mental – is becoming the stuff of legend.
Count renowned quarterback coach Quincy Avery among those who isn’t surprised.
Avery, who has worked with Hurts for years, marvels at the strength Hurts has displayed in myriad situations. On the matter of toughness, Avery said, Hurts is second to none.
Irrespective of position, “there just aren’t many other guys like him,” Avery told Andscape in a phone interview Wednesday. “On a day-to-day basis, when you talk about both physical and mental toughness … he’s just different.
“He has the ability to not only understand the obstacles he has in his way, but he puts a tremendous amount of effort toward overcoming those obstacles. He doesn’t use obstacles as an excuse. He finds a way, which is really commendable. That’s who he is.”
In the NFL, Hurts’ standing is clear.
While playing spectacularly in guiding the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII last season, Hurts silenced his doubters, who claimed he lacked the passing chops to be a successful NFL quarterback, let alone a star. In fact, Hurts, whom Philadelphia selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, was so impressive last season – he finished second in voting for both the Associated Press 2022 NFL MVP award and the AP All-Pro team at his position – franchise owner Jeffrey Lurie rewarded him with a new contract in April. Hurts’ contract has $179.304 million in total guarantees, including $110 million that was guaranteed at signing.
At the time, Hurts’ new deal, in terms of guarantees, was second in NFL history to the $230 million committed to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Eagles left no doubt: Hurts is their franchise quarterback.
That’s why many Eagles fans were even more ornery than usual as Hurts battled through pain against the Dolphins. If Hurts is sidelined even briefly, the Eagles could be derailed in their bid to reach the Super Bowl for the second straight season.
Avery said he’s not aware of the severity of Hurts’ injury. Nonetheless, Avery is confident Hurts will do everything he can to remain in the Eagles’ lineup.
“Not knowing the extent of the injury, telling you any answer about [Hurts’ status] would probably be foolish,” said Avery, who’s highly sought-after to work with top quarterbacks at every level of the game. “But I know how hard Jalen works. I know how committed [he is to winning]. What I know is that he’ll do everything he can to keep playing through it.”
Granted, there’s never a good time for a team to be without its starting quarterback. But with the Eagles’ upcoming tough stretch, they definitely need Hurts to be active on game days even if he’s not in top form.
After a road game against the struggling Washington Commanders (3-4) this week, the Eagles’ next six opponents have winning records: Dallas Cowboys (4-2), Kansas City Chiefs (6-1), Buffalo Bills (4-3), San Francisco 49ers (5-2), Seattle Seahawks (4-2) and Dallas again. Despite the Eagles (6-1) being atop the NFC East, there’s still a long way to go in the regular season.
Besides providing significant production with his passing arm and legs, Hurts has excelled as a leader. His mere presence on the field helps to uplift the Eagles.
That’s where they need him to be as their bid to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season with Hurts at the helm, and sixth time in seven seasons overall, ramps up during the second half of the regular season.
The Eagles have outstanding offensive and defensive lines. They have playmakers at wide receiver, running back and tight end.
Hurts, however, makes it all go, and his injury is a yet another reminder of his importance to the franchise.
“Jalen is one of the absolute best quarterbacks in the NFL right now, and I’m not sure anyone could have known this for sure,” Avery said. “I knew how hard he works and how talented he is, but he’s someone who has probably done more than we expected him to do when you look at what he already has [accomplished].
“When you look at everything, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that. But what it shows, what everybody sees now, is how hard he does work, how much time and effort he puts into his craft and how diligent he is about going about this, no matter what he’s going through.”
With Hurts’ injury, it would seem he’s going through a whole lot. And don’t be surprised if he overcomes what ails him and keeps the Eagles flying high.