Football players often like to talk to motivational analogies. Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is a master of them. Now he’s got some competition in the clubhouse with new starting quarterback Jalen Hurts.
He’ll make his first NFL start on Sunday in what the rookie called an opportunity he dreamed of as a coach’s kid growing up in Houston. He’s ready for it. When that proverbial phone rings, you better be on the other end.
“I’ve tried to stay diligent with everything, be consistent with my preparation,” Hurts told reporters on Wednesday. “So carrying on that same mentality that I’ve always had this year. Always being ready to answer that phone when it rings, it’s ringing so ready to answer.”
The 22-year-old has a quiet swagger about him, too, something that jumped off the screen on Wednesday in his first Zoom call with Philly reporters. He talks slower than Carson Wentz, pausing either for effect or to get his point across, and everything he says seems to be out of the Bull Durham handbook.
When a scribe made a comment about what he was wearing — Hurts had on an Astros hat and jacket — he was ready.
“I thought about that as I arrived at the facility today. I got my Philly stuff now. I got my Phillies jacket, I got my Sixers jacket, my hats, I’m a little diverse, but can’t forget where I come from though.”
Hurts added that he threw up the Houston horns, not to be confused with the Texas Longhorns, after he threw his first touchdown pass last week.
It’s never easy to be thrown into the fire but Hurts provided the “spark” the Eagles needed in Week 13. Can he pull it out of the frying pan again this week? Against the NFL’s top-ranked defense? Well, you’ll have to tune in and find out.
“I’m just gonna go out there and play, hopefully, it answers itself,” Hurts said. “Just go be Jalen Hurts.”
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No Stranger to Awkard Situations, Benched QBs
It seems as if Hurts can relate to Carson Wentz in a lot of ways. For starters, he was benched at Alabama during halftime of the national championship game and watched his backup raise the trophy.
Shades of Nick Foles? Not quite. Hurts didn’t transfer the following year as many thought he would. No, he returned as Tua Tagovailoa’s backup for one season before leaving for Oklahoma in 2019.
So the fact that he is now the one replacing Wentz is a bit ironic, possibly awkward, or maybe it’s just everything coming full circle. Either way, it comes down to one thing.
“Perseverance,” Hurts said. “Perseverance was there for me. I had great people around me, it all came down to perseverance.”
And Wentz has been there for him during this wild, pandemic-driven year from hell. Their roles have swapped but not the way they practice or watch film.
“Roles have changed but preparation hasn’t,” Hurts said. “We’re working together, communicating on things. You know, he has five times as much experience as I do and so he’s always a helping hand when something comes up.”
‘Fun Talk’ with Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson
Hurts was caught on camera last week having a brief chat with Aaron Rodgers (and so did Wentz) after the game. The Green Bay Packers quarterback was one of the guys, along with Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson, that he has long admired and tried to emulate. He got to talk to Wilson in Week 12 and so naturally he had to pick Rodgers’ brain last week. They had a “fun talk,” according to Hurts.
Said Hurts: “I just told him, all week I was trying my best to give a good scout team look and he said, ‘Did you get the cadence down?’ And I said I’m still working on that, probably not at your level yet.”
Rodgers was no stranger to Hurts’ game, either. The future Hall of Famer admitted to watching the rookie play in college.
“He said he watched me in college and had a lot of respect for me as a player and a quarterback,” Hurts said of Rodgers, “and he wished me well and wished me luck the rest of the season. I have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of respect for Russell, and the way he plays this game, too.”