Diving into Jalen Hurts' point guard-esque performance against the New York Giants

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) during the second quarter against the New York Giants during an NFC divisional round game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni comparing quarterback Jalen Hurts to Michael Jordan last week raised plenty of eyebrows.

While that comparison was clearly an exaggeration based on what the two have achieved in their respective careers up to this point, let's stick with the basketball analogy.

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Based on what Hurts does for Philadelphia's offense, a better comparison might have been a point guard — a Magic Johnson or a Steve Nash.

Hurts did not necessarily impress against the New York Giants in the divisional round with tight-window throws, but his play stood out, regardless. Hurts putting his teammates in favorable situations, making good decisions with the ball in his hands and taking what the defense gave him was point guard-esque.

This was ever so evident on run-pass option pass plays. He kept calling his own number on RPOs, as the Eagles passed nine times on such plays, which tied — with themselves — for the third most in a game this season. Remarkably, the most RPO pass attempts by a team this season came from the Eagles against the Giants in Week 18. While Philadelphia generated a negative EPA on RPO passes in that game, they generated 0.171 EPA per play in the divisional round, with Hurts completing seven such throws for 36 yards and a touchdown.

And it wasn't just RPOs where Hurts’ decision-making shone through. While he had the shortest average depth of target among all quarterbacks in the divisional round (6.4 yards), he also had the quickest time to throw (2.31 seconds). The latter is more revealing, as it was by far the quickest Hurts got rid of the ball in a game this season. The closest he came to that mark was in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys, but even that 2.55-second average was more than 0.2 seconds slower than in this game against the Giants.

This play style demonstrated Hurts’ ability to read defenses pre-snap and know where to go with the ball given what the defense threw at him, and it also helped tremendously in neutralizing New York’s pass rush, making Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams basically nonfactors in the contest.

Hurts not only did well to distribute the ball in the underneath areas, similar to a point guard, but he also knew when to take a shot. Although he had just two deep pass attempts, the fewest for him in a game since Week 9, he made one of them count. His finding DeVonta Smith on a deep over route on the first drive of the game for 40 yards was his only big-time throw on the night, but it set the tone for the game, and the Eagles scored a touchdown to cap the drive and never looked back.

Hurts also made good use of his legs on designed quarterback runs. He picked up 29 rushing yards on seven runs and even found the end zone on a quarterback draw right before halftime. Overall, the Eagles averaged 0.367 EPA per play on designed quarterback runs, which ranked 11th this season.

While Hurts’ game against the Giants might not have been impressive in the same way as some other quarterback performances this weekend, the high praise he received from his head coach was absolutely warranted, as he was decisive with the ball in his hands and provided plenty of opportunities for his receivers to make plays after the catch.


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