Philadelphia – Just about two years ago against the Green Bay Packers when Jalen Hurts replaced Carson Wentz in the third quarter, changing the course of Hurts, Wentz and the Eagles’ future.
Hurts became the Eagles’ starter the following week and has had a solid contract at the position since then, while Wentz has been on his third team in three seasons.
But after that game on December 6, 2020, Hurts and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers shared a long handshake on the field. Hurts said afterward that he did most of the talking after the Eagles lost 30-16 in a 4-11-1 season.
Hurts said at the time that he told Rodgers he was trying to give the Eagles defense a good look at the scouting team that week.
(Rodgers) said, ‘Did you lower the tempo? “
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Painful response? “I’m still working on it. Not at your level yet.” It was a lot of fun talking.”
But Hurts learned something valuable that day from watching Rodgers, something that enabled Hurts to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season as the Eagles (9-1) have the best record in the NFL on game day. Sunday against Rodgers and the Packs (4-7), who are struggling.
Hurts is fourth in passer rating at 106.5 and sixth in completion percentage at 68.3%, while Rodgers, who completed 39 on Friday, is 11th in passer rating at 93.2 and 20th in completion percentage at 64.6%.
“I have a lot of respect for any quarterback who gets out there and plays the game in an effective, victorious manner,” Hurtz said. “I think when you look at the NFL now, there are a lot of quarterbacks who do it their own way.
“There’s no set way to play the position. It’s all about winning at the end, and it looks different for different quarterbacks. You talk about guys like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, guys you watched growing up as a kid, it’s guys that set a precedent for the position in a lot of ways.” It’s cool for a reason.”
In other words, what works for Rodgers won’t necessarily work for Hurts. that’s good.
After all, Hurts adds a dynamism as a runner that few quarterbacks can match. But Hurts embodies another Rodgers trait that helps him get through tough situations.
“You’re talking about room temperature. I set the temperature,” said Hortz. “I put the feelings in and go. It’s in the preparation. It’s in trusting the people around you. It’s inclusive of those around you.”
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Hurts has often admitted to tutoring Tom Brady over the years, as well as Russell Wilson. He is also good friends with Peyton and Eli Manning, going back to when he attended Manning Passing Academy while in high school.
Eagles coach Nick Siriani said he often gives Hurts another sounding board in Philip Rivers, who retired after the 2020 season after 17 seasons in the NFL. Siriani was Rivers’ offensive coordinator with the Colts in 2020, and was an assistant coach on the Chargers’ staff when Rivers was there.
“A big part of the improvement is being able to watch people, great people from the past, and see their technology, and see how they did it,” Siriani said. “One thing I like to do is, ‘Hey, Phillip, can you zoom in on us and just talk to Galen about how you see this play? … We know what he taught us in this play, but just give him a little more insight.”
However, when Hurts exchanged words with Rodgers two years ago, it was hard to imagine Hurts playing at that level. The Eagles ended up acquiring Wentz for the rest of that season, then trading him in the spring of 2021 with Hurts named primarily rookie.
Even then, the Hurts weren’t overwhelming, completing 61.3% of their passes for an 87.2 average rating in 2021. The Eagles switched to a run-based offense, led by Hurts, to finish 7-3 in order to make the playoffs.
But Hurts has improved dramatically as a passer this season. As a result, the Eagles became the best team in the NFL.
All you have to do is go back to the last game against Green Bay. On the other hand, mischief is too busy looking forward rather than looking back.
“Not really,” he said of whether he was looking back at that match. “I know the first time I really got to play in the NFL was against Green Bay. That’s the truth of it.”
According to Tibico, the Eagles are the six-point favorite against Green Bay. It’s safe to assume that the Eagles are the heavy favorites ahead of the pack for the first time since the 2010 season. During that time, the Packers have won six of the eight games between the two teams, starting in both games in 2010 (regular season and playoffs).
It’s easy to see why Green Bay has won at least 10 games in a season nine times in 12 seasons. Incidentally, the Packers didn’t play the Eagles in 2017 and 2018 when Green Bay didn’t win at least 10 times, and the Eagles also won the Super Bowl in 2017 and made it back to the playoffs the following season.
But the spread of the point this time may be somewhat misleading.
Rodgers admitted this week that he’s played the last six games with a broken thumb. But over the last two games, Rodgers has played as usual.
He threw for five touchdowns without an interception, with a passer rate of 115.9, more along the lines of his best NFL seasons. Prior to that, Rodgers had seven INTs, the most he has had in a full season since he had eight INTs in 2015, and a passer rating of 89.0. His low career rating is 92.7.
A lot of that has to do with the emergence of rookie wide receiver Christian Watson, who has caught all five of Rodgers’ passes in his last two games. It’s not too early a moment for Rodgers and Green Bay, who have struggled to adjust to life without receivers Davante Adams (traded to the Raiders) and Marquis Valdes Scandling (signed as a free agent by Kansas City).
Meanwhile, the Eagles are going through a similar transition without star tight end Dallas Goedert, who sustained a shoulder injury against Washington on November 14 and remains on injury backup.
The Eagles averaged 289 yards per game in their last two games — the 32-21 loss to Washington followed by a 17-16 win over the Colts — compared to 391 yards per game in their first eight games.
For the Eagles to win, the defense must reach Rodgers, while stopping running back Aaron Jones. Recent additions of defensive tackles Ndmukong Suh and Linval Joseph should help the defense, though Suh said Rodgers is so smart he’ll “look at you and laugh” as he throws the ball away.
But if Rodgers truly regains his form from seasons past, the Eagles offense will have to keep up with the fifth-ranked pass defense, allowing 193 yards per game.
Then again, it could be a big running game for Hurts and Miles Sanders as Green Bay isn’t nearly as good against running, allowing an average of 135 yards per game.
It may not be pretty, again, but it should be enough to win.
result: Eagles 25, Packers 21.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter @Mfranknfl.