Eagles QB Jalen Hurts 'above' trade chatter, focused on earning starting job

Jalen Hurts has seen and heard a whole lot for having only been in the NFL for one season.

He’s the presumptive new starter in Philadelphia following a whirlwind of a rookie year that included a season-long meltdown for the man he was backing up, Carson Wentz, and a late-year insertion into the starting lineup. The latter call was made by a coach who is no longer in town, just as Wentz is no longer an Eagle.

One might see this as Hurts having successfully cleared rough waters for smooth sailing. Not so fast, my friend.

Hurts begins this training camp as QB1, even if new coach Nick Sirianni won’t yet name him as such, and he’s returned to Philadelphia with the demeanor of a man who’s ready to take full control of the offense. He’s also changed his jersey number to the more familiar No. 1 he wore in his final year of college at Oklahoma.

“He’s done everything possible off the field and during the spring practices to take the reins, and we want to see him do that,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “This is a big year for any player that goes from year one to year two. So we’re excited to see that, see his growth, and working with the ones.”

Hurts has another reason to attack this training camp with relentless effort: He still needs to prove he’s a viable solution at quarterback, starting with the short-term outlook. That outlook could get rattled a bit if the Eagles decide to use some of their recently acquired draft capital to upgrade under center (i.e., moving the three first-round picks requested by the Texans as compensation for Deshaun Watson ).

And even if the Eagles stand pat at quarterback, they still need evidence that Hurts can be the guy in 2021 and beyond. That means it’s time for Hurts to buckle down, tune out any outside trade chatter and take control of his future.

“What chatter? There’s a lot of chatter that goes on,” Hurts said. “I’m above it all. I control what I can. I’m here. That’s what I’m doing, going out there and being the quarterback for this team.”

Hurts has plenty to accomplish before the NFL’s regular season opens in September, including putting coach Sirianni’s offense into action. Hurts was afforded the spring to learn the former Colts offensive coordinator’s system, but as any football player knows, it’s one thing to study the playbook and it’s another to execute it consistently at full speed.

Such an endeavor began this week with the start of training camp for the Eagles.

“The rent is due every day,” Hurts said. “I truly mean that, and I have that mentality. For a guy like me, I hold myself accountable to go out there and play at a high level every time I touch the field. There’s not going to be anybody that holds Jalen to a higher standard than Jalen.”

Hurts’ number switch evokes memories of his move from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Norman, Oklahoma, for his final year of college ball. He’d done his part as a good teammate at Alabama and stuck around even as the younger Tua Tagovailoa took his job, with Hurts hanging around long enough to replace Tagovailoa and lead the Crimson Tide to an unlikely comeback victory in the SEC Championship Game.

Then, he bowed out gracefully and moved to Oklahoma, where he regained his stardom while wearing No. 1 and led the Sooners to a conference title and College Football Playoff berth.

In those couple of years, Hurts displayed maturity and an ability to prepare well enough to succeed when unexpectedly called upon. That, coupled with his athletic abilities is what led the Eagles to spend a second-round pick on him in 2020.

So perhaps they know what to expect from Hurts. Now, he just has to prove them right.

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