There are few players who have as much pressure on them as Jalen Hurts heading into the 2022 season. The Philadelphia Eagles have fully flipped the switch into win-now mode after overachieving in 2021. After seemingly addressing all of the team's holes this offseason, the question is now if Hurts is capable of leading the team to the playoffs in the way it is hoped. The addition of AJ Brown gives Hurts a true WR1 to line up alongside DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. The defense also made some notable strides, highlighted by the additions of James Bradberry, Kyzir White, and Haason Reddick. With the season now set to begin, here are three Jalen Hurts predictions for the 2022 NFL season.
3. Jalen Hurts Leads the Eagles in Rushing Yards
The Eagles have one of the best rushing attacks across the entire league. The franchise led the NFL in team rushing yards with 2,715 yards on the ground in 2021. Their offensive line has made a terrific impact by paving the way and effectively getting to the second level to provide the best chance at success for the Eagles' offense. Hurts' arm is sure to be put to the test this season, but this likely will not sway the offense to move away from its run-first mentality.
As things currently stand, Miles Sanders is set to serve as the lead back. He has battled some injuries throughout his time in the pros but has had some positive flashes nonetheless. Both Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott are also sure to be in the mix for carries. The Eagles also claimed Trey Sermon off waivers after he failed to crack the 49ers' 53-man roster.
While it may seem a bold claim for Jalen Hurts to lead the team in rushing yards, he did it just last season. When looking at the Eagles' rushing leaders, Hurts led the team with 784 yards with Miles Sanders shortly behind him at 754 yards. Boston Scott also added 373 yards on the ground. The read option has become a dangerous weapon in the Eagles' offense with Hurts under center. He also has become the team's primary red zone back and led the team with 10 rushing touchdowns in 2021. Considering his involvement in the running game and that the running backs are set to split carries, expect Hurts to lead the Eagles in rushing yards once again this season.
2. Jalen Hurts will solidify his place as the franchise QB
While all eyes are on Jalen Hurts, he has handled things as well as he possibly could. The 24-year-old has answered every question correctly, stepped up as a leader, and seemingly has the respect of the locker room. It now is time for him to show it on the field.
Many people seem to believe that he needs to develop into a consensus top-five quarterback in order to secure a long-term starting role but this simply is not the case. The Eagles went 9-8 in 2021 and managed to sneak into the playoffs. The team made some notable additions on both sides of the ball and if Hurts takes some small steps forward it increases the team's chances greatly. Look for him to make smart reads with the ball and steer the team on the right path in 2022. The former second-round pick has done everything possible to put himself in a position to earn this role. It now is time to prove it and play like the franchise quarterback he has teased he can be at times.
1. Hurts throws 25+ touchdowns in 2022
There have been glowing reports about his leadership, intangibles, and running ability, but the fact of the matter is Jalen Hurts' arm remains the question. In his four games as a starter in 2020, he threw for six touchdowns. As the full-time starter in 2021, Hurts tallied 16 touchdowns through the air. While this got the job done and his 10 touchdowns on the ground make his questionable arm output a bit easier to swallow, there still needs to be some growth in this area.
Look for Hurts to increase his passing production and tally 25+ touchdowns in his second year as the full-time starter. The addition of AJ Brown certainly raises the offense's ceiling and his physically demanding style of play will open things up for DeVonta Smith and provide Hurts with two terrific options to throw the ball to. Dallas Goedert is also entering his first full season as the starting tight end as Zach Ertz was traded mid-season last year. The Eagles also added Zach Pascal in free agency who has a strong connection with Head Coach Nick Sirianni.
The bottom line is that Jalen Hurts now has the tools to produce points this season. Expect him to effectively distribute the ball around and increase production through the air. If Hurts is able to throw for 25+ touchdowns and secure a postseason birth for the Eagles, it will be tough to take the starting role away from him. There is a great deal of pressure on the young quarterback but expect Jalen Hurts to step up and deliver.