When NBC’s Chris Simms released a list of the NFL’s top 40 quarterbacks last week, Eagles fans were quick to notice one omission.
Jalen Hurts, the second-year quarterback from Alabama who is stepping into the Eagles’ starting job this season, was nowhere on Simms’ list. Meanwhile, Carson Wentz — whom the team traded to the Indianapolis Colts during the offseason — landed at No. 18.
No one thinks the second-year starter is better than Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers, but there are 32 NFL teams, and Hurts was the only projected starter not on Simms’ list. Even worse, Hurts was displaced by career backups like Tyrod Taylor and Case Keenum, and a couple of rookies who have yet to throw a pass in the NFL.
Simms, an NBC Sports analyst and the son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, explained to 94.1 WIP host Howard Eskin his concerns about Hurts, which appear centered on the young quarterback’s throwing motion.
“It’s a motion that doesn’t lend itself to being consistent and accurate,” Simms said in audio Eskin played on his Saturday morning show. “He kind of throws only with his arm … He doesn’t really use the body to throw all the time.”
Simms said after looking back at game footage from last season, Hurts was a better runner than he expected. But when it comes to throwing the ball, Simms questioned Hurts’ decision making and said he relied too much on his arm strength and didn’t use his body to power his throws.
“There’s way too many slam-dunk, easy completions that I would expect a good senior high school quarterback to make that are not made,” Simms told Eskin. “When I went back and watched there’s easily another three or four that hit guys in the chest that could’ve been intercepted. He had the fumbles to go along with it. There was a lot of rawness to him, still.”
Listen to the full audio here (Simms’ segments are played at the 34 minute and the 1 hour, 22 minute marks):
After the Eagles benched Wentz, Hurts started four games for the Birds (as columnist Marcus Hayes noted, “he played well twice, played OK once, and played badly once”). He ended the season with a 77.6 quarterback rating and completed just more than 50% of his passes, a low number compared to nearly every starting quarterback in the league.
Hopefully, Hurts’ familiarity with Eagles quarterback coach Brian Johnson will help his development during the offseason. Hurts’ father, Averion, was one of Johnson’s coaches at Baytown Lee (Texas) High School. Johnson has known Hurts since Hurts was 4 years old. Even before the Eagles hired Johnson, Hurts referred to him as “Coach Brian.”
“I’ve known his dad since I was 15,” Johnson told the Inquirer. “When Jalen was in high school and I was coaching at Mississippi State, we recruited him really hard and tried to get him there. But he ended up going to Alabama and having a great college career.”
While in Alabama over the weekend hosting a youth football camp, Hurts was filmed tossing some long bombs to rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith, his former teammate at Alabama taken by the Eagles in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.
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