March 8, 2021

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As QB controversy roasts, Jalen Hurts trying to be…

4 min read
As QB controversy roasts, Jalen Hurts trying to be...


PHILADELPHIA — With past, present and future on a collision course over the Arizona desert this weekend, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is just trying to be a coffee bean.

It’s an analogy he used this week leading up to his second career start Sunday against the Cardinals (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox) to explain his even-handed approach amid all the turbulence in Philadelphia which includes Carson Wentz getting benched and Hurts taking over and performing well against the New Orleans Saints and the city losing its collective mind over what it all means.

Hurts talked about not riding the roller coaster, focusing on his job and leading by “bringing people up around me” and developing camaraderie — actions and characteristics he called “contagious” — in the name of enhancing the environment around him.

Interestingly enough, the Eagles rookie used the same analogy in August 2019 after being named starting quarterback at Oklahoma, where he succeeded Kyler Murray, who will be playing opposite Hurts Sunday.

“You’ve got to try to be the coffee bean,” Hurts said at the time. “You’ve got the carrot [and] the egg. You put an egg in boiling water, it hardens up. It doesn’t affect anything. The carrot softens up. The coffee bean spreads and gets stronger and impacts the people around you.”

This game can be viewed as a full-circle moment, or at least an interesting footnote, in Hurts’ circuitous football journey. The first true freshman to start for coach Nick Saban at Alabama, Hurts went 26-2 for the Tide before being replaced in the second half of the 2018 national championship game by Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts lost the starting to gig to Tagovailoa the next year, transferred to Oklahoma, amassed 52 touchdowns for the Sooners his senior season, got selected in the second round of April’s draft by the Eagles, supplanted Wentz in the lineup last week, and is now squaring off against Murray, whom Hurts called “an OU legend” and credited for paving the way for him in Norman.

“It’s gonna be exciting to be able to watch those two go at it,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “I can’t lose, which, that’s a good feeling to be in. It’ll be definitely mixed emotions watching them go at it, but it’s really cool, really cool to see them get a chance.”

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Field Yates and Matthew Berry like Jalen Hurts as a waiver-wire add for Week 15 because of his rushing upside, which he displayed vs. the Saints.

“I’m really happy to see how successful he’s been,” said Tagovailoa, now the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, of Hurts. “It’s a big win against the Saints, so congratulations to Jalen and his team. I hope he continues to do well.”

In explaining how he has navigated an awkward situation in taking over for Wentz, Hurts said he has drawn on all the experiences he had before joining the Eagles. He added he and Wentz have common ground in their faith and Wentz has “been very supportive” while offering up the knowledge he has built over five seasons.

Not unlike his days at Alabama, there is uncertainty when it comes to the future at quarterback in Philadelphia. There are two highly capable QBs going for one spot, and the Eagles are invested heavily in Wentz after giving him a $128 million extension in 2019.

But Hurts, 22, is making an impression on his teammates, who continue to use the term “natural leader” to describe the rookie.

“You can tell when a guy comes in and he starts having success, he’s been ready, he’s been waiting on his moment, he’s been making sure he’s sharpening his sword until his moment came and that’s exactly what you get,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “When he wasn’t in, he was supportive, he was out there working hard, out there trying to beat us every day and I think you started to see flashes of him getting better every day he was out there.

“The work you put in, you start to become that natural leader because of what you do every day. You’re not a pretender, you’re not faking it. People see the work you put in and now they’re seeing you produce on the field and then people start to respect you even more. You get that respect, and then eventually you become a leader without even knowing it because people want to be like who you are.”

NFL Nation reporters Cameron Wolfe and Josh Weinfuss contributed to this story.


https://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/312920/as-qb-controversy-roasts-jalen-hurts-trying-to-be-coffee-bean-for-eagles