As we approach the midway point of the 2023 NFL season, the contenders and pretenders have become much more clear. In the American Football Conference, the Miami Dolphins are a force to be reckoned with, earning the nickname “greatest show on turf” because of their dynamic, motion-driven offense.
Meanwhile in the National Football Conference (NFC), the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers have proven themselves to be juggernauts. How did the Eagles go from a 9–8 team that got bounced from the playoffs in 2021, to the NFC Champions in 2022, to a solidified contender in 2023?
The answer? General Manager Howie Roseman and Quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Howie Roseman was the laughing stock of the league in 2020 after selecting Texas Christian University wide receiver Jalen Reagor with his first round pick over now star wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Reagor never panned out, while Jefferson has made the argument as one of the best receivers in the league. Roseman’s next pick was QB Jalen Hurts out of the University of Oklahoma.
The league was shocked, as everybody expected former MVP runner-up Carson Wentz to be the team's quarterback, but Roseman had other plans. The 2020 season was abysmal due to injuries to nearly half the roster and poor play from Wentz, who also had no weapons to throw to. Roseman used the high draft pick to acquire the Heisman Memorial Trophy winner, wide receiver DeVonta Smith, out of the University of Alabama.
The 2021 season involved Wentz being benched due to poor play midseason and the emergence of Jalen Hurts as the Eagles’ starting quarterback. After the season ended in an anticlimactic blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs, Roseman again shocked the world when he traded Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts for a conditional third round pick.
Roseman then used his built-up draft capital to trade for standout wide receiver A. J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans for a first round pick swap and a third round pick. Now armed with Smith on one side, Brown on the other side, and tight end Dallas Goedert across the middle, Hurts, along with the best offensive line in football, dominated the 2022 season. Although they lost in Super Bowl 57, Hurts solidified himself without a doubt as the Eagles’ franchise quarterback.
Roseman turned a four-win team into a juggernaut, all within the span of three years, by building around Hurts and using draft capital to plug holes on the roster.
When it comes to the quarterbacks of elite teams, however, the most heated debate this season is over Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is currently tied for the league lead in interceptions thrown (8), and yet has carried his team to a league-best 6–1 record.
Should the Eagles be concerned about the sustainability of Hurts’ play? The best way to evaluate a player is never the box score, but rather film itself.
In week two against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football, Hurts threw an interception into double coverage. This was on him; there was no pressure, and the intended receiver was never open. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the next week, Hurts threw two interceptions. Both were poor decisions to throw into double coverage.
However, against the Los Angeles Rams, his interception was not as poor as it appeared. Hurts and wide receiver Brown have a signature play, where Hurts throws a back shoulder to Brown by the front pylon of the end zone, and the defender almost always overplays the ball and blows back the catch point. This interception was much more of a great defensive play than a poor throw or decision from Hurts.
Moving on to the Eagles’ worst game of the season, Hurts threw three interceptions against the New York Jets. The first pass hit Goedert right in between the numbers on a screen, but he dropped it and it ricocheted into a defender’s arms for a turnover.
The second interception was a result of poor protection, as Hurts’s arm was hit by a defender as he threw. The third was a result of playing too much hero ball at the end of the game and forcing the ball to a covered receiver.
The final game where Hurts threw an interception is the Miami Dolphins game. After a Miami field goal, Hurts had a defender in his face who was able to deflect the pass, but unfortunately, instead of falling harmlessly to the ground, it fell into a defender's arms, who returned it for a touchdown. Despite the decision to throw with a defender in his face, the interception was mostly bad luck.
After reviewing every interception, only four out of eight were a result of bad throws. Overall, the Eagles should not be concerned with Jalen Hurts’ play, as he has led them to be one of the most powerful offenses in the league.