Q&A: Jalen Hurts Emergence Way Ahead Of Schedule
Several high-profile offseason acquisitions and the development of their franchise quarterback has positioned the Philadelphia Eagles to win their second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
On the latest “Q&A” podcast on Inside The Birds, former Eagles standouts Jason Avant and Quintin Mikell discussed the team making the Super Bowl and gave an early preview of the matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs – a team led by a very familiar face.
Quintin Mikell: “For me, the biggest offseason impact was A.J. Brown. His presence on the field creates so much of a worry for opposing defensive coordinators that it opens up everything else for this offense. Now you couple that with DeVonta on the outside, Quez (Watkins) and Zach Pascal on the inside, and (Dallas) Goedert inside, just that one player, game-breaking type player, is tremendous. I know what it’s like when you’re on defense and you’re playing against a team with all of these weapons and blocking schemes coming at you.”
Jason Avant: “He helped to expedite the growth of Jalen Hurts. If you take him out of the offense, it’s not the same at all and you can add more people to the box. Him being on the field opens up much more. It keeps Goedert from being double-teamed, it keeps an extra body off of Hurts, it gives DeVonta Smith the second-best corner. It does a bunch of different things and he can beat your number one guy. It makes them unguardable.
Mikell: “Everyone talks about leadership. One of the most important things that I think a lot of people don’t understand is it’s a form of social influence. You’re influencing people around you to focus on a certain goal. It’s one thing to be a manager and say this thing and do that, but a real leader is someone that creates the vision and socially impacts the people around him to do better. Everything I see about this guy and hear him say, he lives it. He exudes all of that confidence, focus, that dog mentality. After this game, you would have thought they lost the game the way he was so calm and collected. I just kept hearing him say we have one more. To some people, it might just sound like talking points, but he really lives that stuff. His growth as a leader is exactly what this team needed and is the complete opposite of a Carson Wentz.”
Avant: “In my years of being around a guy, I don’t know if I have ever been around a guy with such a gravitational pull where you want to root for him because you know what type of guy he is and how hard he works…But I never thought he would get to this point this fast, and I was wrong. I didn’t think that Hurts would have enough time to correct a lot of things that he had going wrong. Did I believe he could correct them? Yes, if he had sufficient time. I thought the clock could possibly run out before he could adjust to the NFL and be able to hit a downfield target consistently, throw accurate passes, and be able to recognize defenses. Not only did he prove me wrong, he did it faster than what was even imaginable in my mind.”
Avant: “The 49ers were the number one rushing defense, their passing defense was number 20. In the last 10 or so games, there hadn’t been a 70-yard rusher on them. It was a very challenging defense to run on, so you didn’t think you’d be able to. It was a little bit wet when I was there at the game, so I’m pretty sure that was in the coach’s mind a little bit. But I’m not surprised we leaned on it because Jalen was off a little bit this game…Once they saw that the double team was a winner and figured that Nick Bosa is responsible for Jalen no matter what, once they figured that out it was over.”
Mikell: “This has been my first year really seeing him play. I didn’t expect this out of him this year. Especially early on, we weren’t sure how (Jonathan) Gannon was going to use him, he had him dropping and doing all of these weird things. And then he just hit a hot streak and got freed up to be creative, use all of his different rush moves, His hand move, his speed, his athleticism are just tremendous. He’s my favorite player to watch right now.”
Kansas City Chiefs
Avant: “This game may not be as close as what we think. The only way the Chiefs can possibly win is a very narrow Patrick Mahomes extraordinary performance. Everything else [points] to an Eagles decisive win to me. Mahomes is the best QB in football, Jalen Hurts is not on his level but he’s on an MVP level. Travis Kelce is the best tight end in football, but it isn’t that big of a step from Dallas Goedert. Our offensive line is way better, our receiving, because of their revolving door, is better, our running backs are better. Their best area, which is offense, we’re better. Then you look at defense. In every position, our defense is better than theirs. When you look at the game, it’s either going to be a Mahomes miracle or Eagles decisive win. Now here’s the thing we’re not putting into the equation, which goes a long way: You give coach Andy Reid and Steve Spagnuolo two weeks, that’s a tough ask for any offense or defense. Veteran coaches versus young coaches, will that play a factor in this?”
Mikell: “The coaching, especially in a big game like this, definitely has an effect. Then you put in Mahomes, who can at any point take over a game, then you add Kelce, that right there can tip the scales a little bit. I do think this Eagles team top to bottom is better, but if there ever was an opportunity for this Eagles team to have an Achilles heel, it would happen from a coach like Andy Reid and his staff.”
– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
Listen to the latest “Q&A” podcast featuring former Eagles standouts Quintin Mikell and Jason Avant:
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