‘We didn’t pay him more to do less’: Is Jalen Hurts running too much for his own good?-ZoomTech News

PHILADELPHIA — Probably the most violent hits in Sunday’s opener between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots got here on the expense of quarterback Jalen Hurts.

With a bit of over three minutes remaining and the Eagles holding a 25-20 lead, offensive coordinator Brian Johnson dialed up a QB draw on first-and-10. Hurts discovered a crease, rumbled up the left seam and lowered his shoulder as he approached oncoming visitors. Security Jabrill Peppers was flying downhill and received even decrease. The hit stopped Hurts in his tracks and despatched him airborne, jarring the ball unfastened. New England recovered, and for a second, each the result of the sport and Hurts’ well being have been put into query.

The Eagles held on to win, and Hurts, who rushed 9 occasions for 37 yards, mentioned afterward that he averted any actual injury regardless of absorbing 15 hits — tied for fourth most amongst quarterbacks in Week 1.

“I am prepared for Thursday,” Hurst mentioned as he ready for the Eagles’ showdown with the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Monetary Subject (8:15 p.m. ET, Prime Video) for his or her 2023 residence opener.

Sunday’s recreation was largely par for the course. Over the previous two seasons, Hurts has rushed 304 occasions — a league excessive amongst quarterbacks and 59 extra occasions than No. 2 on the checklist, Josh Allen, who has appeared in three extra video games over that span. The Eagles have known as 173 designed rushes for him, in line with ESPN Stats & Info analysis, which can be tops within the league (Lamar Jackson is second with 148). Predictably, Hurts has additionally been hit at a excessive price: His 375 quarterback contacts the previous two years is second to solely Allen (379).

Coach Nick Sirianni made it clear he had no plans to drastically change how he deploys Hurts shortly after his quarterback signed a record-breaking five-year, $255 million contract again in April.

“We’ll all the time take into consideration defending him first,” Sirianni mentioned, “however we did not pay him extra to do much less.”

Hurts’ “triple-threat” strategy — beating defenses together with his arm, legs and thoughts — lifted him to MVP-caliber standing final season as he guided Philadelphia to Tremendous Bowl LVII towards the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, the place he set a quarterback report with three speeding touchdowns in a slender 38-35 loss.

Hurts had 760 yards and 13 touchdowns on the bottom throughout the common season, the second-most speeding TDs by a QB behind solely former Carolina Panthers signal-caller Cam Newton (14 in 2011). Hurts is the one quarterback in NFL historical past to publish 10 or extra speeding scores in consecutive seasons. Within the Tremendous Bowl period, Hurts has recorded the second-most speeding makes an attempt by a quarterback inside his first three seasons. Alongside him on that checklist is Jackson, Newton and Kyler Murray, all of whom have missed important time with accidents. Jackson has missed 10 video games prior to now two seasons, Murray is at present recovering from a torn ACL, and Newton has handled many accidents.

There isn’t any denying how efficient the 25-year-old is as a high-volume runner. And it is important within the run-pass choice fashion of offense the Eagles make the most of, during which Hurts’ menace as a runner opens house for his working backs and receivers. The query is whether or not it is a sustainable strategy for a workforce that hopes to be taking part in deep within the postseason for the foreseeable future.

“He mentioned it final yr: He is prepared to do no matter he has to do to win a soccer recreation,” former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III mentioned. “So we have seen him run for 100-plus yards in a recreation, we have seen him throw for 300-plus yards in a recreation, and he would not care which one takes over, it is simply regardless of the recreation is looking for within the second. And I feel that is the tough factor to handle for guys like Jalen Hurts and for Josh Allen as a result of they’re so aggressive they usually’ve been so profitable of their careers doing it the way in which they have been doing it, you do not wish to take that away from them.”

HURTS’ INJURY HISTORY is effectively documented. He missed a pair of video games down the stretch final season with a sprained shoulder and performed by means of ache within the playoffs.

The newest harm got here when Hurts’ throwing shoulder was pushed into the frozen turf by Chicago Bears defensive lineman Trevis Gipson at Soldier Subject in Week 15 of final season following a 3-yard run.

“Keep down, keep down!” left deal with Jordan Mailata advised Hurts.

Hurts was quiet for a second as Mailata readied to sign to the sideline for the trainers — till Hurts lastly spoke up.

“Get me the f— up.”

He stayed in, engineering a protracted drive that resulted in a area purpose. He ran three extra occasions throughout that collection and completed with 17 rushes for the sport to assist Philadelphia pull out a 25-20 win. However he missed the subsequent two video games earlier than returning for the regular-season finale towards the New York Giants.

He was additionally hobbled in 2021 due to a left excessive ankle sprain that required offseason surgical procedure.

Hurts reportedly sustained a damaged collarbone whereas taking part in at Alabama. He additionally suffered a proper excessive ankle sprain there in 2018 and had surgical procedure this offseason to take away {hardware} put in following that ankle harm.

“He is a competitor, he will try to go get it, and I can not fault him for that,” receiver A.J. Brown mentioned after the Patriots recreation. “However as a large receiver, as a pal, I would love for him to slip a pair extra occasions.

“You’ve got gotta let him be him,” Brown added, inserting his arms collectively, “so prayers up.”

Hurts is uncertain whether or not he’ll throw extra and run much less as his profession progresses. For now, he is “embracing the individuality” of his recreation.

“Being somebody educated and understanding of what is going on on — on the sphere — with the ability to make these throws and with the ability to trigger issues on the bottom as effectively, these are the three areas as a quarterback I am embracing, and that I wish to proceed to excel at,” Hurts mentioned.

That win over the Bears marked the sixth recreation in 2022 during which Hurts ran the ball 15-plus occasions. For perspective, Michael Vick rushed 15 occasions in a recreation as soon as in his profession — in 2004 with the Atlanta Falcons. Randall Cunningham’s profession excessive was 14 rushes in a recreation, whereas Donovan McNabb topped out at 12.

Hurts ranks second amongst quarterbacks with video games of 15-plus rushes (eight) since 1950, behind solely Jackson (14).

Griffin, the multithreat Heisman Trophy winner who rushed for 815 yards and 7 scores as a rookie to go along with 20 landing passes to 5 interceptions, had the trajectory of his profession altered dramatically late in his first season. He injured his proper knee on Dec. 9, 2012, towards the Baltimore Ravens on an open-field hit from Haloti Ngata following a scramble. He returned prematurely for a playoff recreation towards the Seattle Seahawks and tore his ACL and LCL in the identical knee.

“The underside line is I ought to have been taken out of the sport,” Griffin mentioned. “I should not have even been given the chance to play. However that is the group’s accountability to the participant as a result of when you ask any participant, they will let you know, ‘Oh yeah. I’ve solely received one finger of 10 fingers? I can play!’ In the event you inform a participant, ‘Hey you do not have a kneecap.’ They’re like, ‘F it, put some tape on it, I can play.’ That is a participant’s mentality.

“What I’d say for Philly … take a look at what they did final yr when he harm his shoulder. They held him out of the [next two] video games. May he have performed in these video games late within the season? Sure, he may have performed. However they did not play him. For my part, they checked the field of, ‘We’re prepared to do what’s in Jalen Hurts’ finest curiosity for the long-term future.'”

Hurts would not must look far to see how one main harm can flip a profession on its head. His predecessor, Carson Wentz, seemed to be on a famous person observe earlier than tearing a number of knee ligaments whereas diving into the tip zone on a scramble towards the Los Angeles Rams in December 2017. He by no means regained his kind and is at present out of the league.

DESPITE THE LARGE variety of hits he has absorbed, Hurts’ recreation doesn’t come off as reckless.

“We all the time take into accounts how a lot we’re placing him in hurt’s method, particularly within the run recreation,” Johnson mentioned. “There are some issues that naturally occur all through the course of a recreation or all through the course of a play the place it turns into second response soccer. However Jalen has all the time had a fantastic really feel for avoiding contact and with the ability to get himself down in sure conditions.”

Hurts tends to select his spots for when to open himself as much as contact — like within the closing moments Sunday — and usually does effectively to keep away from the massive hit. At 6-foot-1 and 223 kilos, he is a former powerlifter who can squat 600 kilos. And the big variety of QB sneaks the workforce runs — they transformed 29 of 32 makes an attempt final season — inflates a few of his speeding numbers.

“As he continues to develop and develop as a participant, it is actually necessary that he simply makes use of all the things he has in his toolbox to ensure that he is taking part in in addition to he can,” Johnson mentioned.

Nonetheless, there is a case to be made that he must be utilized as a runner much less continuously, particularly now that he has proven dramatic enchancment as a passer.

He elevated his completion proportion from 61.3 in 2021 to 66.5 final season whereas throwing for 3,701 yards with 22 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Sirianni mentioned he has seen one other soar in Hurts’ recreation since final season by way of accuracy and decision-making.

The passing recreation seemed rusty towards the Patriots — Hurts was 22-of-33 for 170 yards, a landing and no interceptions — however the items are in place to have top-of-the-line aerial assaults within the league led by receivers Brown and DeVonta Smith, tight finish Dallas Goedert and working again D’Andre Swift. The Eagles are able the place they’ll pull again some on Hurts’ rushes throughout the common season to maintain him wholesome, with the choice of going full-throttle within the postseason.

“There are methods to make the most of the energy of Jalen Hurts and try to do it in a method that it minimizes the chance of him getting injured,” heart Jason Kelce mentioned. “I feel the coaches are firmly conscious of all these items, however on the similar time, you need to have the ability to benefit from his dynamic skill as a result of it makes our offense extremely dynamic and explosive.”

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