August 9, 2023   6 MIN READ

‘On Another Level’

Birds Teammates: Major Step In Hurts' Development


In the waning moments of Sunday’s 98-minute open practice, the Eagles’ first-team offense was working on executing a two-minute scenario.

With his right foot foot planted on the 20-yard-line, Jalen Hurts calmly fielded the snap from center Cam Jurgens.

Dropping back, Hurts never diverted his eyes from the left side of the field, where an apparently fatigued A.J. Brown trudged his way toward the pylon.

Second-year cornerback Josh Jobe, standing in for an ailing James Bradberry, had decent positioning on the play.

But with a flick of the wrist, Hurts ripped a perfectly placed corner shot to Brown, on a play that almost felt improvisational between the two stars.

It was the kind of inherent timing between Hurts and Brown – who skied over Jobe to secure the red-zone touchdown – that figures to be key in unlocking the offense’s full potential.

“In the moment that was a two-minute situation and I was gassed, I was so tired, I was just trying to make a play,” Brown recounted in his latest press conference. “So for me to make a play in a critical moment for Jalen that just builds confidence.

“In these situations he’s gonna give me a shot. That’s what I want, I wanna build that chemistry and build that confidence in him that he can take chances and give me a shot.”

Jalen Hurts

It’s hard to fathom that a prominent – and relevant – training camp storyline once centered around Hurts seemingly having eyes for only Brown in the early going in terms of target share, but the initial chemistry ultimately served as a precursor for what has evolved into one of the NFL’s most cohesive combinations.

The highlight-reel play of open practice was significant not only because it symbolized the symbiotic relationship between a quarterback and his receiver; it also underscored Hurts’ burgeoning confidence and trust to fit the ball into tight windows, where only his receiver can make a play.

Hurts’ competitive drive, unrelenting work ethic, and signature poise were never called into question. In fact, it’s likely those very characteristics that instilled the team’s pre-draft confidence in him, all but assuring he was wired to maximize his every morsel of potential.

With Hurts’ steadfast devotion to his craft, coupled with his immeasurable upside, the odds were always in his favor.

But make no mistake, the rise has been nothing short of meteoric.

Hurts has not only ascended to the ranks of the elite entering his fourth season – third as a starter – the 2020 second-round pick is universally heralded as one of the league’s brightest young talents.

Six months ago, a 24-year-old Hurts incredulously stood toe-to-toe with reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes on the slippery State Farm Stadium field, on the game’s grandest stage, even outclassing his counterpart with a Super Bowl performance for the ages despite coming up short.

Rather than languish in pity or ruminate about what could have been, the stoic and ultra-competitive Hurts appears to have taken the loss personally.

While never one to articulate his feelings or show vulnerability in the public eye, Hurts found methods this offseason to turn the Super Bowl loss into fuel for his workouts in preparation for another season of heightened expectations.

When Hurts and his host of pass-catchers reconvened during the offseason for a throwing session in California, the 25-year-old quarterback displayed his one-track mind of improving by 1% daily, by any means necessary.

“He’s got the one of the most incredible mind-sets, work ethics,”  tight end Dallas Goedert said. “Right after the Super Bowl, he flushed that. He was ready to get to this season.

“We were able to throw with him a little bit in California. We’ve been throwing a lot here before the season. He strives for greatness. He wants to be a great player in this league for a long time and he wants to win. It’s an everyday thing for him. He doesn’t take a day off.

“I know in California, he brought his whole computer system, film setup, to watch film in California in the offseason. He just cares so much about this game.”

Whether it’s been sharing the ball with his playmakers, making calculated decisions at the line of scrimmage, showing precision ball placement, or keeping the ball from harm’s way, Hurts has elevated specific aspects of his game.

Coaches and teammates have observed and spoke on his maturation frequently throughout training camp.

“I definitely say the first couple days I felt like he was just on another level,” Brown acknowledged. “Making throws here and there, just making it look easy, just being real calm like he’s in a game.

Brown added that Hurts hasn’t shown a shred of complacency, an observation also made by the team’s new offensive coordinator.

“I think he’s been on a journey of daily improvement since the day we stepped in the building,” first-year play caller Brian Johnson said. “That’s a testament to who he is as a person, how important football is to him, and just his drive and overall determination.

“Then you add that with the fact that he’s seen a lot of football now in the last two years…I think that experience starts to kick in, and you can start to see things happen before they happen.”

Goedert added that Hurts is “processing all the information before the snap, not during the snap,” observing another stage of Hurts’ growth.

“I think that’s a benefit to everybody on this offense,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Hurts hasn’t boasted about his most recent accolade, being voted by his peers as the NFL’s third-best player in the NFL’s Top 100 list for the 2023 season.

Hurts typically isn’t one to acknowledge praise, whether individual or team-centric, nor will his DNA allow him to fixate on the inevitably elevated expectations that surround an Eagles team that has, once again, pushed every chip into the middle with hopes of another Super Bowl run.

If Hurts’ recent showcases at camp is any indication, his diligence is primed to manifest in something special.

That’s how his teammates see it.

“I don’t wanna put a ceiling on him, and I don’t know what it’s gonna look like, but I know what I can say, that he comes to work,” Brown said. “He’s one of the hardest workers in the building. I think everyone knows that.

“He is just focused on being as consistent as ever. He’s leading the team. Of course I’d love to see him take another step because that means we all took another step.”

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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