If recent practices are any indication of Jalen Hurts’ full potential, watch out. The Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback has been slinging the football around the field with purpose and fitting it into some tight windows, according to safety Jalen Mills. This could be fun.
Hurts has been a human highlight-reel during red-zone drills, per Mills, and his “crazy throws” got the Eagles’ secondary in trouble with their defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. It’s made for some heated exchanges out on the turf at the NovaCare Complex, increasing the competition as well as the expectations.
“He would make some crazy throws on us, man,” Mills told reporters on Friday. “Some crazy throws. It’d have Schwartz cussing us out, guys on the defense mad, pissed off. But that’s what you want. You want that competition on the other side of the ball.”
Schwartz addressed the Philly media on Tuesday — one day prior to the Eagles naming Hurts the Week 14 starter — so we’ll have to take Mills’ word for it since he wasn’t asked. There’s no reason to suspect his stretching the truth, though. How would that benefit anyone?
🔥Jalen Mills on Jalen Hurts in Prax
“He would make some crazy throws on us man, crazy throws! It have [Eagles DC Jim] Schwartz cussing us out, guys on defense mad!” @6abc @greengoblin @JalenHurts #JalenHurts #Eagles pic.twitter.com/ZbwRVOFoOG
— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) December 12, 2020
“And you see him making those throws, and you’re like, he’s a rookie,” Mills said. “He can use his legs, he’s not a guy who just trying to run because the pocket is collapsing.”
Several teammates have talked about his emerging leadership, including Doug Pederson. The head coach also complimented the mental aspect of his game during meetings with passing-game coordinator Press Taylor and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
Doug Pederson on what he’s looking for from Jalen Hurts as a leader: “Just lead the way you know how. Be Jalen Hurts.”
— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherNFL) December 9, 2020
“He’s asking really good questions in the meetings, not only to Press, but also to me and to Stout, and really wants to gather all the information he can,” Pederson said. “Then as far as just the excitement, I’m looking forward to him playing and seeing what he can do.”
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Nate Herbig Returns to Starting Role
The Eagles will also insert a new starter at right guard with Jason Peters out for the year. Nate Herbig, who was benched after Week 9, had been dealing with a nagging finger injury before the team decided to replace him with Sua Opeta.
The switch had just as much to do with performance as availability, according to Pederson. But Opeta hit injured reserve on Nov. 28 with a bulging disc so the opportunity is there once again for Herbig.
Eagles RG Nate Herbig and RT Jack Driscoll get some work together pic.twitter.com/ozLprVD46g
— Chris Franklin (@cfranklinnews) December 11, 2020
“The team did what it felt was best for us to win,” Herbig told reporters on Friday. “I was banged up and other guys got some opportunities, and they played really well. And now, some guys are banged up and I’m coming back and I have the opportunity, and hopefully, I can help the team win.”
This probably is more than a one-game audition, too. Herbig could be the long-term solution at right guard with Matt Pryor struggling at that spot and Peters likely to retire.
Eagles Sporting Black Jerseys
When Hurts trots out to take his first snap as the starter, he’ll be sporting an all-black jersey for the Birds. The sleek uniform combination is usually reserved for prime-time matchups and huge rivalry games, so perhaps they are trying to send a message to the rest of the league and the Philly fan base. This is an important first step for a possible new beginning for the franchise.
The Eagles are 1-0 in the all-black jerseys this year — a 22-21 victory over the New York Giants on “Thursday Night Football” — so that’s a positive. Philly enters Sunday’s contest as eight-point home underdogs, per DraftKings Sportsbook.