Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Eagles stats: Jalen Hurts’ MVP case compared to Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Cam Newton magical seasons

As Hurts' play is making a case for the Eagles quarterback to become the MVP, how does it stack up with past great QB seasons?

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts removes his jacket to resume play in the first half against the Giants.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts removes his jacket to resume play in the first half against the Giants.Read moreHeather Khalifa / Staff Photographer

Standing at the podium at MetLife Stadium, Jalen Hurts conceded something he seldom does.

The Eagles quarterback had arguably his worst game as a pro at that stadium against the Giants one season ago, but he was dominant in his return Sunday and continued a string of games that have him firmly in the MVP race.

Afterward, the 24-year-old who often insists the outside noise never creeps into his psyche acknowledged the role naysayers play in his motivation.

“There was a point in time where people said I couldn’t throw the deep ball, let alone throw it 5 yards,” Hurts said. “ ... I carry my scars on me everywhere I go. I don’t forget. Do I waste my energy worrying about the opinion of someone else, the opinion of a sheep? No. I truly invest my focus in getting better as a player, getting better as a quarterback.

“Everybody and their opinion don’t deposit at the bank.”

Hurts has not only quelled many of the doubts that surrounded him going into the season, but also kept pace with the best quarterbacks in the league. His three-touchdown performance in the Eagles’ 48-22 rout of the New York Giants has him leading in the MVP race, according to some oddsmakers.

Here is how Hurts’ numbers, both conventional and advanced, compare to recent winners in years past:

The blend of statistics covers traditional counting stats as well as a few advanced metrics. Estimated points added per play and completion percentage over expectation are both comprehensive stats for quarterback efficiency. EPA/play measures the value of each individual play toward scoring points and CPOE measures a player’s completion percentage over the chances of a completion by a replacement-level player.

Finally, Pro Football Focus tracking stats were included to help illustrate the balance each player had of elite-level throws to high-risk decisions.

» READ MORE: Jalen Hurts becomes betting favorite to win NFL MVP after dominant Giants win

Hurts vs. 2019 Lamar Jackson

The counting numbers between Jackson and Hurts are a mixed bag, but certainly comparable. Hurts may not end up playing all 17 games, but he’s on pace for 42 total touchdowns compared to Jackson’s 43 while having fewer turnovers and turnover-worthy plays.

MVP winners typically have a blend of gaudy statistics, viral highlight plays, and a supporting narrative that is either year-over-year progress or team success. Jackson’s 1,206 rushing yards and the flair with which he got them was a major part of his campaign along with the progress he made as a passer.

Hurts has a good amount of literal ground to make up if he’s going to break 1,000 rushing yards, but his total yardage may be the eye-popping stat that he needs. He has already surpassed Jackson’s passing yardage total for the season and is on pace to have 5,000 total yards. Team success is similar between the two (Jackson went 13-2 as a starter) and the significant leap as a passer is comparable between the two as well.

The biggest difference between the two might be EPA, which heavily favors Jackson. Jackson’s 0.30 EPA/play is in line with several recent MVP winners, while Hurts’ 0.17 is slightly behind. Jackson led the league in the metric during his MVP season, while Hurts ranks fifth. Most notably, Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 0.27 EPA/play this season.

Hurts vs. 2015 Cam Newton

Hurts’ running style and approach are more similar to Newton’s than Jackson’s and the numbers bear this out. The Hurts-Newton comparison is the most favorable for Hurts both statistically and narrative-wise.

Newton’s total touchdowns (45) edge out Hurts’ projected 42 with an extra game, but Hurts’ turnover differential will once again be superior. Hurts has sizable advantages in total yardage and completion percentage as well.

» READ MORE: What we learned from Eagles-Giants: Handicapping Jalen Hurts’ MVP chances

Advanced stats favor Hurts even further. CPOE wasn’t recorded in 2015, but Hurts outdid Newton in EPA/play and is on pace to surpass him in total EPA as well. Newton had more than double the number of throws deemed “big-time” by PFF, but also had twice as many turnover-worthy plays. Like Hurts, Newton didn’t lead the league in EPA/play; he ranked sixth behind exclusively pocket passers with better numbers through the air.

Newton’s team went 15-1 that season, which could be the pivotal common thread between the two quarterbacks. The focal point of the best team in the NFL is an archetype that has won in the past and could theoretically win again over players with slightly better numbers.

Hurts vs. 2018 Patrick Mahomes

Unlike the first two comparisons, Hurts’ numbers and playing style don’t resemble those of Mahomes, who had a historic season as a passer in 2018.

What will be interesting, though, is how close Mahomes may get to his previous MVP numbers this season. He’s on pace for 46 total touchdowns, more than 5,000 passing yards, and has an EPA/dropback (which discounts rushing attempts) over 0.32. There have been nine quarterbacks to surpass 0.30 EPA/play since 2007, according to The Athletic. Five of them won MVP.

Numbers aside, Mahomes had the story line in 2018 that he likely won’t have this season, and newness certainly helps candidates in the MVP race. If the Eagles continue winning and Hurts keeps putting up big numbers while protecting the football, he could still have enough advantages to keep Mahomes from winning his second MVP.

Hurts vs. 2017 Carson Wentz

The Eagles’ 13th game allows for some fun with the last Eagles player to flirt with being the first in franchise history to claim the trophy.

With identical games played, Hurts has one fewer total touchdown than Wentz but four fewer interceptions. The disparity in turnover-worthy plays is staggering. Hurts has eight, Wentz 21. Hurts has more total yardage and better completion percentage and yards per attempt.

Hurts’ CPOE is significantly better, and although their EPA/play is identical, Hurts has better total EPA.

All this to say, Hurts has gotten closer to the MVP than Wentz was even before the former Eagles quarterback tore his ACL at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Trophy or not, this season from Hurts is the best an Eagles quarterback has played in recent memory.