Super Bowl-bound Hurts still trying to quiet haters
PHILADELPHIA — Nick Sirianni and his kids made snow angels in the confetti on the Linc lawn. Alone in his locker, Jalen Hurts puffed on a cigar and scrolled through the congratulatory texts on his phone.
Out on the streets of Philly, crazed fans refused to let Fett slow them down as they skidded towards the tops of the poles.
Everyone celebrates a Super Bowl trip in their own way.
Historically, these don’t happen very often in Philly. That makes two Super Bowls in six years for the franchise, which accounts for half of his entire career. Owner Jeffrey Lurie hired three direct trainers who made it all the way to the championship – Andy Reid, Doug Pederson and now Sirianni.
Even better for the Eagles, they drafted the right quarterback.
Hurts seems to have it all. He set a team record for total touchdowns. Was named MVP finalist. Went 16-1 as a starter, including the playoffs. Has been heavily touted as the kind of quarterback who can carry a franchise for a decade.
But it’s not enough.
Hurts made sure to call out his supposed haters in the moments after he scored a quick touchdown and led the Eagles to a 31-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC title game.
who knew Hurts was a 2023 version of Ben Simmons that nobody in Philly wanted.
“My first year here (guys) probably didn’t even want me to move in here,” Hurts said. “It was probably one of those things. But it always sorts itself out.”
Let’s get the lowdown: Hurts was drafted in the second round in 2020 — after a stellar collegiate career that saw him finish runner-up in the Heisman Trophy — in large part to challenge incumbent Carson Wentz. Hurts was named a starter in Week 14 of his rookie year under former trainer Pederson and has never really looked back. He bounced back from a 2-5 start and led the Eagles to the playoffs in Sirianni’s first season. In his second season as a starter, the Eagles went wire to wire as the NFC’s top team.
So who wouldn’t want Hurts here? He wouldn’t elaborate.
“It came as a big surprise to a lot of people,” Hurts said cryptically. “My favorite (Bible) verse, I went through a lot of stuff in college and it kind of stuck with me, John 13:7: ‘You may not know now, but later you will understand.’ Hopefully people understand.”
There are clues in Hurts’ biography that might explain what he meant. In Alabama, he was benched for Tua Tagovailoa in the national title game and eventually traded to Oklahoma for his senior season. He wasn’t considered an NFL prospect not to be missed, and earlier this season there were questions if he could be successful as a pocket passer.
Hurts seemed to answer those questions. But he probably hasn’t forgotten her.
Eagles fans will be sure to forgive whatever Hurts is going through as long as it takes them to their second Super Bowl championship in six years.
The Eagles have made three of their four Super Bowl appearances since 2000, and there’s a familiar mustache on the opposing sideline in Reid. Reid is on the shortlist — if not number one — of the greatest coaches in Eagles history. He made the Eagles winners in his sophomore season, winning more games than any other coach in franchise history but was 1-4 in NFC Championship Games. He was fired after 14 seasons and immediately ended up in Kansas City, where he won a Super Bowl and lost another.
Hurts vs. Patrick Mahomes is a QB matchup for the ages. And the first between two black quarterbacks in Super Bowl history.
If Hurts wins this one, maybe people will understand.
Here’s more news and notes as the Eagles begin waiting for the Super Bowl:
• What works: Hurts had a modest game by his standards. He was 15 of 25 passing for 121 yards and rushed for 39. That opened the door for the running game to take control. Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell didn’t put up monster numbers, but they chewed up crucial yards on scoring drives and helped the Eagles find the end zone. Sanders scored two touchdowns. Boston Scott scored one.
The Eagles love to use their backs on the goal line, and the trio’s penchant for finding the end zone could throw the Chiefs off track.
• What is not: The Eagles did their job of beating San Francisco QBs Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson, but it’s not like the offense was blinded outside of the running backs inside the 20.
Gainwell led the team with 48 yards rushing and DeVonta Smith led with 36 yards receiving. These players have put up similar numbers in a quarter this season. Without more explosive plays, the Eagles could be doomed in Glendale, Ariz.
• Top up: The hometown kid(-ish) is doing fine. Haason Reddick forced a fumble on the first drive of the game in San Francisco, injuring Purdy. He also recovered a fumble and had two sacks. Reddick now has 3.5 sacks this postseason, which is the most by an Eagle in a single playoff run. Reddick has 19.5 sacks in 19 games (including playoffs) this season. Who wants to bet the New Jersey native and former Templar star can get a few more against the weak Mahomes?
• Destocking: The Eagles may want to bet on using Brett Kern in the Super Bowl. Kern was another disaster against the 49ers, with a shank punt and a line drive into the end zone. He tried to argue that the shaft had struck a TV camera cable, but that argument went nowhere. Punter Arryn Siposs has been out since mid-December with an ankle injury and remains hopeful he could return for the Super Bowl.
• Key number: 4 – The Eagles are the fourth team to reach three Super Bowls since 2004, after New England (seven), Pittsburgh (three) and Seattle (three). The Eagles are also the fourth franchise to have appeared in multiple Super Bowls since 2017, joining Kansas City (three), the Los Angeles Rams (two) and New England (two) in that span. The Eagles are also in their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.
• Next Steps: The Eagles are the fifth team to reach three Super Bowls since 2004, after New England (seven), Pittsburgh (three), Seattle (three) and Kansas City (three). The Eagles are also the fourth franchise to have appeared in multiple Super Bowls since 2017, joining Kansas City (three), the Los Angeles Rams (two) and New England (two) in that span. The Eagles are also in their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.