Chances are if you are in a group chat with me, watch football with me, or listen to Cooler Talk Sports, you know that Jalen Hurts has been a hot button topic this football season. His rise from being benched at halftime of the 2018 national championship game to now starting in the super bowl just 5 years later is truly remarkable and must be applauded. However, that does not mean he should be lauded as a top 5 quarterback like he has begun to be by the media and fans.
I am a true believer in the theory that there are 5 tiers of QB's in the NFL: busts (see Zach Wilson), high end backups/ low ends starters (Jacoby Brissett), good but replaceable starters (Jimmy G), stars that can elevate their teams (Joe Burrow) and Patrick Mahomes. There really are only 4 tiers if you group Mahomes in with the stars, but when you have never lost an AFC playoff game in regulation you deserve your own tier in my book.
Hurts belongs in tier 3 for me. He is a good, maybe even great player, but he is not transcendent. He plays on the best roster in the NFL and does enough with both his arm and his legs to allow the true stars of the team, the best o line in the league and top end pass catchers, to shine. Many would, and have, argued that it is unfair to knock Hurts just because he has a better team around him and point to the fact that Gardner Minshew lost two games with this roster down the stretch. Others will bring up Quarterbacks of the past, such as Payton Manning who has the like of Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison at his disposal throughout his career, as a way to say most good QBs have weapons. To those sentiments I ask this. How many quarterbacks could be dropped on the Eagles for this game that would still have them as favorites given the other 52 on the roster remain the same? Mahomes, Burrow, Allen, Herbert, Jackson, Lawrence, Brady, Rodgers, Dak? That is what 8, maybe 9 QBs? Almost 1/3 of the league? Here is another question, what is the spread of this game if you trade the QBs straight up? Is it 9.5? Maybe even higher?
The bottom line is that Jalen Hurts is a really good quarterback that has made an inconceivable amount of progress in 5 years in order to get him, and his team, into the place they are going into this Sunday. However, it can also be true that he has never had to elevate any piece of his roster to new heights in the same way that Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow have in the past, or had to go full super man to make up for an opponents talent advantage the way Josh Allen and even Justin Herbert have (if you want to talk shit about Herbert please go watch the highlights from the 4th quarter of the Raiders week 18 game last year and tell me he is not on the cusp of being an elite QB, if he is not there already). There is nothing wrong with this. Jimmy G almost road this playbook all the way to a super bowl ring, and Trent Dilfer, as well as many others, have done just that in the past. The problem arises when fans and media cannot just be content with calling it how it is. The narrative can never be Jalen Hurts is playing great in his role as a cog in the death star of a team the Eagles' front office and coaching staff has assembled. No, it immediately has to be is Jalen Hurts an elite QB? Is Jalen Hurts better than (insert QB who is more talented but in a far worse situation here)? Should Jalen Hurts win MVP?
Why can't we just appreciate how far Hurts has come, and recognize his importance to his team while also realizing the clear advantages the Eagles roster has afforded him both on Sundays and in his develop. Then, in a few years when this Eagles roster ultimately faces the cruel realities that age, salary cap, and paying a QB present in this league, we can truly judge how great Hurts is. The same way we saw Mahomes adjust after losing Hill, Brady go from Welker and Moss to Gronk and Edelamn, Manning from the Colts to the Broncos, and many more QBs who adjusted to elevate the changing rosters around them in the past.
Will Hurts be able to do the same and join the elite QB tier? If I knew the answer to that I would not be typing a blog that only 4 people are going to read, but what I do know is we should pump the breaks on anointing him as a member of that tier until he proves he can do what those who reside there have done and elevate his team to places they do not necessarily belong.