There has been far too much made about what Jalen Hurts isn't rather than what he is. The former second-round pick has plenty of expectations following the Eagles' offseason additions to provide him with the proper weapons. He succeeded in this in Week 1 by connecting with his new top target AJ Brown on 10 receptions for 155 yards. While Hurts has seen comparisons to a number of players, he may just be the better version of a fan favorite in years past. Here are three reasons why Jalen Hurts may be what everyone always hoped Tim Tebow would become.
3. Overcoming Arm Strength with Use of Legs
The criticism of both Tim Tebow and Jalen Hurts has been their arm strength. While the high character and ability with their legs go a long way, at the end of the day if you cannot make NFL-quality throws then you cannot secure a place as a quarterback. Both players are capable of the occasional impressive throw, but arm strength will never be labeled their true calling card.
However, each guy seems to possess the unique ability to overcome what would be a shortcoming to most QBs. Tim Tebow was always selective in finding his receivers and threw for 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions as an NFL quarterback. He also led the NFL in game-winning drives in 2011. This ability to step up when it matters is what attracted so many to Tebow on the football field.
While it is still to be seen if Jalen Hurts has this same level of poise in crunch time he clearly does not get wavered by the big moments. Many have been overly critical of his ability to use his legs. In Week 1 against the Lions, the team blitzed early and often. Hurts used his legs as an asset to escape the defensive pursuit and make a play. This forced the defense to sit back and allowed Hurts to utilize his arm from there. This dual-threat nature is what makes him so impressive and is the type of balance Tim Tebow never fully found.
2. Team-First Mentality
When discussing NFL players who have the highest character, both Tim Tebow and Jalen Hurts deserve a place in the conversation. Each guy has handled a number of tense and difficult situations with grace and in a way that shows the kindness they truly have. Both Tebow and Hurts have leaned heavily on their faith to get them through tough times and have been open about this experience.
Where things differ slightly is the magnitude of stardom that their personas took on. While it is not entirely his fault, Tim Tebow became a national celebrity in a way that overshadowed his on-field play. This likely played a major role in his rapid exit from the NFL as teams did not want the media circus that came along with him. In contrast, Jalen Hurts has done everything possible to push himself away from the spotlight. He continually rejects individual praise and points it toward his teammates and coaches.
Hurts came into a tough spot when he was drafted as Carson Wentz was the starting quarterback and had recently signed a new contract with the Eagles. The young QB answered all questions correctly and was content with his backup role until the time came. This team-first mentality is much more difficult than people acknowledge and the genuine ability to put the team first has propelled Jalen Hurts toward success.
1. The It-Factor
There is something about a quarterback's will to win that is tough to quantify. While talent is extremely important and the measurables should not be taken for granted, both Jalen Hurts and Tim Tebow possess an it-factor that goes beyond the stat sheet. This attitude is infectious to teammates and is a major reason why both quarterbacks always have/had the locker room behind them.
If Jalen Hurts can continue to progress in his development while maintaining this type of it-factor, he has a chance to become a special quarterback. In his first year as the full-time starter in 2021, Hurts threw for more yards and touchdowns than Tim Tebow did in his entire NFL career. He also is in an era in which his playstyle is a better fit for the NFL. Hurts still needs to take some strides forward as a passer but the flashes he shows make it worth waiting for.
There are a number of similarities when comparing the two Heisman trophy winners. While Tim Tebow saw the ending to his NFL career occur after just three years, Jalen Hurts seems to just be finding his stride. In his third year in the NFL and second as a full-time starter, Hurts put forth a composed and polished performance to begin the season. Look for the Oklahoma product to continue to build off this and prove he belongs as a long-term NFL starting quarterback.