It’s just one game, but Jalen Hurts looked like he could play in the NFL.
In his first Eagles start of the season, Hurts completed 27 of 35 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 62 yards rushing and didn’t have a single turnover, leading the Birds to a Week 1 win over the Falcons in Atlanta.
Columnist Marcus Hayes wrote that Hurts also “executed a perfect two-minute drill before halftime, and displayed a level of professional quarterbacking not seen since Nick Foles.”
Of course, Hurts was forced to spend the offseason listening to prominent NFL analysts downplay his ability to throw the football. It didn’t help there were endless rumors about the Eagles trading for Houston Texans quarterback DeSean Watson, who is the subject of a criminal investigation and is being sued by 22 women in civil court for sexual assault and/or misconduct.
ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky, an outspoken supporter of former Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, was among those most critical of Hurts’ chances as a starter.
“If the Eagles could go back right now and re-do that decision, I’m 100% convinced that they would not have taken Jalen Hurts,” Orlovsky said on ESPN’s Get Up! in July. “If Jalen Hurts plays as well as he can, he can’t sniff as good as Carson Wentz is.”
Orlovsky didn’t mention Hurts on Get Up! Monday morning, and the show devoted just 33 seconds out of two hours to the Eagles’ win. Carson Wentz’s poor performance in the Indianapolis Colts Week 1 loss against the Seattle Seahawks also didn’t get much time.
For what it’s worth, after one week of play Jalen Hurts is the 11th-best quarterback in the league using ESPN’s Total QBR rating, ahead of Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, and Ben Roethlisberger. Wentz’s performance placed him No. 23 on the list. (Here’s how ESPN calculates its Total QBR).
Another outspoken critics of Hurts leading up to the start of the season was NBC’s Chris Simms, the son of CBS NFL analyst and former Giants quarterback Phil Simms.
In June, Simms released a list of the NFL’s top 40 quarterbacks (the league has 32 teams) and excluded Hurts, ranking him below career backups like Tyrod Taylor and Case Keenum, and a couple of rookies who at the time hadn’t throw a pass in the league.
“I know he’s a fine young man, and he’s got charisma and leadership skills and all that. But there’s just nothing that I ever saw that led me to think he’s an NFL starting quarterback,” Simms told NBC Sports Philadelphia on the Eagle Eye podcast. “I don’t like saying that about a young kid, and listen, I hope he proves me wrong. And if he proves me wrong, I’ll be one here to go, ‘Way to go, Jalen Hurts. You made Chris Simms look like a dumb idiot.’”
Like Orlovsky, Simms didn’t mention Hurts’ game during his appearance on Football Night in America Sunday, and didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment. In the meantime, things are about to get tougher for Hurts and the Eagles — they face the 49ers, Cowboys, and Chiefs over the next three weeks.
Drew Brees throws shade at Drew Brees
Drew Brees, the latest NFL player to benefit from the field-to-television pipeline, had some fun on the set of Football Night in America Sunday night.
Brees, who debuted on NBC Thursday night after having spent 20 years playing for the then-San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints, poked fun at himself while analyzing a long touchdown pass thrown by new Saints quarterback Jameis Winston.
“I guess apparently this is what the Saints have been missing over the last few years,” Brees joked, mocking his own arm strength during his final few season in New Orleans.
In addition to his role on Football Night in America, Brees is calling Notre Dame football games alongside Mike Tirico. It’s pretty clear NBC is grooming Brees to one day replace Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth, but the network isn’t in any rush. Better to get Brees reps and experience than end up with a Jason Witten situation.
Al Michaels, on the other hand, will turn 77 in November and is on the final year of his contract with NBC, and many expect Tirico to take over play-by-play duties next season.
“I don’t know what the future holds, and that is the truth,” Michaels said during a conference call before the season. “All l I know is I just want to make this, which is year 36 for me on primetime football, the best, and then we’ll see what happens. I just have not come to any conclusions at this particular point.”
Michaels had an uncharacteristic snafu during coverage of the Los Angles Rams’ blowout of the Chicago Bears. During the second quarter, the broadcast focused on Matthew Stafford’s wife, Kelly. Unfortunately, they got the wrong woman, but Michaels owned up to the mistake on air a little later.
PhillyVoice’s Jimmy Kempski is back with his weekly review of the food offered to reporters in the press box. He gave the Falcons high marks for offering a Thanksgiving feast worth of good food, capped off by an ice cream sundae. Who wants to be an NFL beat reporter?
Congrats to former Inquirer reporter Kate Fagan, who will be launching a new magazine-style podcast with Dan Le Batard’s Meadowlark Media called Off the Looking Glass. The company will also be launching a new TV show with former ESPN SportsCenter host Kenny Mayne that Meadowlark CEO John Skipper told Bloomberg will be Ted Lasso-esque.
Max Kellerman’s new ESPN show, This Just In, premiers Tuesday at 2 p.m. Kellerman was forced off First Take after five years by host and former Inquirer columnist Stephen A. Smith, who is now sparring against a series of guest hosts that include Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irving and one-time Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow. “I knew that we, together, as far as I was concerned, was not a great partnership anymore and that was something that needed to change,” Smith said on the radio in New York City last week.