It's no coincidence that Jalen Hurts experienced significant statistical growth in 2019 under the guidance of Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma. Running a high-flying offense, Hurts showcased his skills and set the stage for his impressive performance last season. For the first time since high school, Hurts found himself playing under the same play-caller, who he affectionately referred to as Dad, and this continuity played a pivotal role in his development.
While many factors contributed to Hurts' sudden and remarkable rise in the NFL, this often overlooked aspect of continuity cannot be ignored. Yes, Hurts had the privilege of throwing passes to elite receivers like A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, as well as having the support of an exceptional tight end in Dallas Goedert. He was also protected by one of the most formidable offensive lines in the league and surrounded by speedy role players. However, dismissing the impact of continuity on his improvement is simply turning a blind eye to reality.
Last season, Hurts elevated his completion percentage from 61.3% to an impressive 66.5%, despite ranking among the league leaders in deep passes and accuracy. He threw for 557 additional yards compared to the previous year, despite missing two games due to injury during the Eagles' offensive peak. Additionally, he matched his total touchdown count from his first two seasons combined, throwing 22 touchdowns. These remarkable achievements cannot be solely attributed to the addition of A.J. Brown through a draft-day trade.
In a recent interview in Philadelphia, Hurts emphasized the importance of coaching continuity in his successful 2022 campaign. He credited the trio of coaches who arrived in 2021 and remained with the team last season: Nick Sirianni as head coach, Shane Steichen as offensive coordinator, and Brian Johnson as quarterbacks coach.
This means that if Hurts continues on his upward trajectory, the Eagles' offense, boasting talent rivaling any in pro football, will continue to produce video game-like statistics and astronomical scores. As the runner-up in last season's MVP voting, Hurts remains grounded and focused on the present. He doesn't dwell on dreams of returning to the Super Bowl and emerging victorious, nor does he ponder if the explosive scoring streaks from the previous season, such as the 40 points against the Packers, 35 against the Titans, and 48 against Daboll and the Giants, are sustainable for an entire season. With a smirk and a half-smile, Hurts simply says, "We'll see."
Continuity has always been Hurts' ally. Despite experiencing multiple coaching changes during his college career at Alabama and Oklahoma, he thrived and became a major attraction for coaches like Lane Kiffin, Brian Daboll, Mike Locksley, and even Lincoln Riley.
What lies ahead for Jalen Hurts? It's hard to say for certain. However, one thing is clear: continuity will play a significant role in his journey, even if it receives little credit. As long as Hurts continues his upward trajectory, championships will be within reach, and the narrative surrounding his incredible rise will continue to captivate fans and analysts alike.