The Philadelphia Eagles travel to Tampa to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers at the site of last year’s Super Bowl.
The Buccaneers are favored in the wildcard matchup, but Eagles fans like their chances because of the gutsy play from second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Hurts has grown into the role this season with typical young quarterback ups and downs, but he is in a position to do something his predecessor Carson Wentz did not do.
That is to win a playoff game as the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles.
If Hurts can beat Tom Brady and the Bucs, his young career gets a huge boost.
Here are the things that Hurts must continue doing against the Bucs to cement his status as the Eagles franchise quarterback.
1. Play Smart
Hurts has shown himself to be a quick learner and a smart player.
He has been methodical at reading opposing teams’ defenses and leaned on his former Alabama teammate and Heisman Trophy winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
Hurts used his natural speed to run for 784 yards and score 10 rushing touchdowns this season.
He also successfully avoided sacks.
Jalen Hurts was sacked just 26 times this season. Only one other QB was sacked less than he was — Tom Brady (22) pic.twitter.com/dC9blXi09M
— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) January 11, 2022
2. Throw Accurate Passes
Hurts is a good decision maker and is not prone to throwing a lot of interceptions.
In 2021, he threw 16 touchdown passes and only 9 interceptions.
“Jalen Hurts doesn’t have an arm.”
People really think this man can’t throw the rock when he’s clearly shown he can.
😎 All he does is prove people wrong pic.twitter.com/jb0S2rOgP6
— EaglesStrictly (@EaglesStrictly) January 13, 2022
3. Win Big Games
The last thing a franchise quarterback does is win big games, especially on the road and in the playoffs.
Hurts’ first career playoff game against Tampa Bay is as big of a game as there is for a young player.
Competing against the greatest of all time in Tom Brady on his home turf is a huge challenge.
If Hurts and the Eagles beat the Bucs, Hurts will be beloved in Philadelphia for years to come.
From a strictly narrative perspective I think Jalen Hurts beating Tom Brady this weekend is the natural next step in the Carson Wentz saga
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) January 14, 2022
As a footnote, Hurts has been healthier and more durable than Wentz which also helps his cause.
He suffered an ankle injury that caused him to miss two games, but in comparison to Wentz, his injuries and time away have been minuscule.
It is worth noting that this is a rematch of the Week 6 game held in Philadelphia.
The Bucs narrowly defeated the Eagles by the score of 28-22.
Week 6 has been a lifetime ago in Hurts’ development.
Jalen Hurts and Birds flying south to Tampa
Jalen had his 2nd worst game of the year against Bucs 3 months ago but gets a rematch now with the best running game in the NFL and he has seen some of the things Todd Bowles’ defense will bring
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 15, 2022
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni talked about how the Bucs are facing a different and significantly better Hurts in the playoffs.
“He has definitely gotten better throughout that time, which doesn’t surprise me at all because Jalen is a student of the game. Jalen wants to get better and craves to get better. He has high football character and, like I have said plenty of times, guys that are tough, guys that have high football character and guys who love football are going to reach their ceiling.”
All eyes will be on Hurts to see how he handles the moment on Sunday afternoon in Tampa.