Q&A: Hurts vs. Mahomes For NFL's Top Individual Award
Following a crushing 44-28 victory over the rival New York Giants and scoring 123 points over the last three games, the biggest question about the 12-1 Philadelphia Eagles is: who can stop them?
On the latest “Q&A” podcast on Inside The Birds, former Eagles standouts Jason Avant and Quintin Mikell discussed the latest Eagles win and how the team stacks up with the rest of the NFL.
Super Bowl Contenders
Quintin Mikell: “The teams we’re talking about at a Super Bowl level: Bills, Chiefs, maybe the Bengals, maybe the Cowboys. Out of those teams, I think this Eagles team is at the top of those. If they play like they did this last Sunday, they can beat any of these teams.”
Jason Avant: “My top teams go like this: number one, Eagles, the most complete team. The team that gives me the most pause is the Bengals because they play a similar style as we can. They can run the football at a very good rate and they have uncoverable pass targets. You cannot cover Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins jump balls are hard to cover. Then they have a tactical machine with Tyler Boyd in the slot. That right there along with (Samaje) Perine and (Joe) Mixon, that’s tough. Then you have the Chiefs and you see what Patrick Mahomes does every week. He’s going to keep them there with just offense. The Bills, I think people have caught up to them a bit and start to figure them out. The 49ers, and then the Cowboys.”
Mikell: “If you look at it from strictly what each QB means to their team and how the complete offense goes through them, I think Jalen Hurts, with this team at 12-1 right now, is the clearcut MVP. His level, his accuracy on the intermediate and deep ball throws, he can run in the pocket.”
Avant: “I don’t disagree with you. Patrick Mahomes has a great case. The man has 33 touchdowns, already has over 4,000 yards. Now, he only has two rushing touchdowns. Jalen Hurts has 10. Now that number [of total touchdowns] has basically just gotten even. Jalen Hurts has 150 less pass attempts than Mahomes, Hurts’ completion percentage and average yards per play is higher than Mahomes, meaning that if you level it out and give them the same amount of opportunities, the stats would be similar. That doesn’t take away that Mahomes has lost Tyreek Hill, and Hill should be top three in MVP.”
Avant: “The offensive line was definitely prepared for [the Giants’] blitzes and I thought the Eagles had a gameplan for all of their blitzes because they pretty much stonewalled every one. I thought the offensive line played pretty well, I thought the backs blocked pretty well, and I thought Jalen Hurts did a good job of giving a little ground and being able to complete the throw, and realizing he had one on one situations. Their answer to a lot of the stuff this week was out routes, and he stuck with it.”
Avant: “Miles is playing at a really good level right now. What I liked about most of his runs is that he had to find the hole. It wasn’t just right in front of him. He’s being a lot more patient at the line of scrimmage and understanding the blocking scheme. Just like Jalen Hurts has grown and developed, Miles Sanders has grown and developed. They have to really consider trying to make something happen for him to come back. I don’t think that what he’s doing right now can be done by someone else without a lot of reps. He’s the perfect back for the system that they’re running, and he’s picking up blitzes at a high level, he’s blocking for Jalen Hurts, he’s doing a lot.”
Mikell: “Sometimes we mistake being aggressive with blitzing. Just because you’re blitzing, it doesn’t mean you’re being aggressive. You can be aggressive without blitzing. You can be aggressive by bringing your cornerbacks up and putting them in press, getting their hands on the receivers, you can have your linebackers playing across the line of scrimmage and downhill, you can have your d-line stunt and slant and twist. When Gannon falls into that non-aggressive mode, it’s when we’re seeing the DBs off six or seven yards, letting guys catch underneath, we see the defensive line just straight pass rushing, staying in their lines, we’re seeing linebackers dropping back getting into their drop areas and not reading routes. That’s the difference. I think he should blitz a little bit more, but I think it’s when the team doesn’t have the lead. When this team has a lead, you don’t have to blitz because that secondary can cover and the front four or five can get after it. When they’re not in the lead, that’s where he needs to step his playcalling up and be a little more aggressive.”
Avant: “Jonathan Gannon’s philosophy is to not allow teams to score touchdowns. He doesn’t care about running or passing yards. His goal is to limit the amount of touchdowns teams are scoring. He doesn’t want to sacrifice an extra defender on the backend for a blitz knowing it’s going to expose a play that can give up a touchdown. I don’t love that, but I have to respect that because this team is still number one in passing yards allowed, number one in sacks, and number one in turnovers.”
– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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