Eagles Announce Starter, Rookie QB Joins Elite NFL List

Jalen Hurts

Getty Jalen Hurts is being used as a gadget-play specialist in Philadelphia during his rookie year.

It was more shocking to hear Doug Pederson say he wasn’t sure if Jalen Hurts would start in Week 15 than it was to hear him make the official announcement. Yes, Hurts will be under center for the Philadelphia Eagles this week.

The rookie quarterback from Oklahoma is kind of a big deal. Hurts made history on Sunday by becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to run for 100 yards and throw a touchdown pass in his first NFL start. He finished 17-of-30 for 167 passing yards while running 18 times for 106 yards. Of course he’s the starter, although Pederson wouldn’t commit to it for the remainder of the season.

“Yeah, after going through the film and really looking back even into last week and the preparation and everything, I’m going to continue with Jalen this week as the starter,” Pederson told reporters on Monday. “Jalen did, after looking at the film again today, Jalen played well. He was a big part of the success we had on offense and obviously helping us win that football game.”

The move sets in motion an epic Week 15 showdown between Hurts and Kyler Murray, the dual-threat quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals and reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Both players were Heisman Trophy finalists at Oklahoma, with Murray winning the award in 2018. He has thrown for 3,231 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 712 yards, including a league-best 6.2 yards per carry.

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Hurts’ College Coach Praises ‘Winning Attitude’

It seems like no one has a bad word to say about Hurts. There’s also very little dirt on the former Oklahoma quarterback.

The only mini-controversy he stirred up was when a viral sideline tongue move got Gene Simmons trending on football Twitter. Fact check: Hurts’ pose had nothing to do with Simmons. It was an ode to his college fraternity and the “Que Dogs” of Omega Psi Phi.

Back to the football field. Hurts’ college coach, Lincoln Riley, jumped on a Zoom chat with NBC Sports’ John Clark where he described what fuels his former star pupil. Hurts is naturally confident and brings a winning attitude to every situation.

“He brings that winning attitude and that confidence,” Riley said. “He’s got a gift to be able to get people to rally around him. He always has. One thing you know about this dude, no matter what happens, he’s going to get up and go at it again.”

Calling for Veteran Leaders to Step Up

The Eagles lost team captain Rodney McLeod for the rest of the year. He suffered an ACL tear on Sunday and requires season-ending surgery. They’ll likely have to rely on fourth-round pick K’Von Wallace and undrafted rookie Grayland Arnold to pick up the slack at the safety position, but it will be a collective effort to fill McLeod’s leadership void.

Pederson openly challenged his locker room to step up and assume that role. He specifically mentioned Darius Slay, Jalen Mills, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry on the defensive side of the ball.

“I’ve challenged the team every week that everybody on the team can be a leader, right? It doesn’t need to necessarily be the most veteran player,” Pederson said. “Anybody can lead … Rodney was a big, vocal leader on this team.”


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