Jalen Hurts doesn't need to do much different in 2023 to win a Super Bowl

2KP2BCA Philadelphia, United States. 27th Nov, 2022. Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Hurts throws a pass in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers in week 12 of the NFL season at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday, November 27, 2022 Photo by John Angelillo/UPI Credit: UPI/Alamy Live News

• An elite player profile: Hurts' turnover-worthy play rate dropped from 3.3% in 2021 to just 1.9% last season, and he recorded one of the best adjusted completion rates in the game (78.0%).

• A perfect example of modern improvement at QB: Hurts used his legs to boost the Eagles in 2020 and 2021 while still developing as a passer, then become a top-tier signal-caller in 2022.

• A Lombardi Trophy is within reach: If Hurts can simply repeat his 2022 play, the Eagles will be the best team in the NFC again and one of the best in the game.

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Is Jalen Hurts ready to take one final step and win the Philadelphia Eagles a Super Bowl?

That’s the question facing a player who has already made huge strides in the NFL. The gap between where he started and where he is now is immense, but even the gap between how Hurts played in 2021 and his performance last season is probably understated. His PFF passing grade jumped from 69.2 to 83.8, with his best single-game passing performance coming in the Super Bowl on the biggest stage against Patrick Mahomes.

The narrative on Hurts changed over the course of that season from needing to take a step to even ensure he'd be the starter in 2023 to being a legitimate MVP candidate and a new entry into the top tier of NFL quarterbacks.

The transformation was so complete that it’s difficult to identify how he can significantly improve to take that final step.

Even thinking back to the Super Bowl, the Eagles were arguably just one bad fumble away from being able to win that game and Hurts completing his journey.

The leap Hurts took as a passer was critical because the ways in which quarterbacks can affect a defense and underpin their offense has changed with a huge influx of athletic rushing threats at the position. Players are able to survive for a time, propped up by their rushing ability, while they develop as passers, but that passing improvement needs to come in order for them to be capable of taking their teams to the promised land.

Hurts is a great example of that dynamic, earning just a 57.5 PFF passing grade in his first season, and it’s a pathway that other quarterbacks are trying to follow.

Jalen Hurts PFF Grading Profile
Season Overall Grade Passing Grade Rushing Grade
2022 88.2 83.8 83.8
2021 77.1 69.2 86.9
2020 56.2 57.5 55.4

One of the things often looked at to identify that improvement is how quarterbacks perform when they are in a hole. Last season, Hurts ranked fifth in the NFL in overall PFF grade when trailing. Three of the four quarterbacks above him are the consensus top tier in the game right now — Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. His ranking remained high when looking at bigger deficits or when focusing purely on passing and eliminating scrambles from the equation.

Overall, Hurts had an elite profile last season in almost every conceivable way. His turnover-worthy play rate dropped from 3.3% in 2021 to just 1.9% last season, ranking second behind Justin Herbert. His big-time throw rate was a more average number (4.1%), but that doesn’t give him credit for the big plays he had on the ground, both in yardage terms and in terms of critical impact on the game. He averaged 8.0 yards per attempt, just behind Mahomes (8.1), and recorded one of the best adjusted completion rates in the game (78.0%).

There is certainly debate about how much Hurts benefited from the league’s best offensive line and A.J. Brown‘s arrival, but it would be churlish not to acknowledge that whatever the catalyst, Hurts raised his game to a level that merited very real MVP consideration last season.

It’s impossible to completely isolate a quarterback from his supporting cast and the environment around him necessary to succeed — Patrick Mahomes has Andy Reid and Joe Burrow couldn’t hit a deep ball until Ja’Marr Chase arrived — but the bottom line is that those factors become truly relevant only when they disappear and are obstacles to overcome.

The Eagles have done a great job of reloading over the offseason and mitigating inevitable roster turnover each offseason. They future-proofed the team so that players such as Nakobe Dean are ready to step into starting roles vacated by the likes of T.J. Edwards, avoiding creating a glaring weakness where once there was strength. The offensive line should remain one of the best in the game, and the receiving weaponry that Hurts has to target will continue to be a strength.

So what does Hurts need to do to get this team over the hump and win a Super Bowl? The same as he did a season ago.

If Hurts can simply repeat his play at the level he was at a year ago, the Eagles will be the best team in the NFC again and one of the best in the game. Then it comes down to what most postseason games do: who can avoid the big mistake at a critical point or make the big play with everything on the line. Hurts made one massive mistake in last year’s Super Bowl, and it cost Philadelphia. If he avoids that this time around, maybe he is the one hoisting the Lombardi Trophy instead.

Jalen Hurts already arrived as an elite quarterback in 2022. All he needs to do to prove it this season is back that performance up with another.

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