With all due respect to the Salt Lake Metropolis NBA All-Star Weekend, Glendale, Arizona is 2023’s “Black Tremendous Bowl.” Every week earlier than NBA superstars and celebs descend on Utah, Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes will take the sector as the primary pair of black quarterbacks to begin towards each other in a Tremendous Bowl.
Mahomes has been right here earlier than. Hurts received an NCAA nationwide championship after getting benched within the second half, and misplaced one regardless of heroics on his half. Nevertheless, he got here aboard the Eagles as a second-round venture. In 2020, ESPN’s lead draftnik Mel Kiper Jr. face-planted by describing Hurts as a Taysom Hill-type gadget participant.
Solely a small fraction of quarterbacks have improved their standing in two off-seasons the way in which Hurts has. Two years in the past, nameless NFL expertise evaluators, execs, coaches, and coordinators voted Hurts because the Thirtieth-best quarterback in all the NFL. A number of months in the past, 50 voters ranked Jalen Hurts twentieth amongst 32 quarterbacks. Within the estimation of NFL institutionalists, he was someplace between Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield. After rising as a frontrunner for the MVP award that Mahomes clinched (after Hurts sprained his proper shoulder) and reaching his first Tremendous Bowl, he’s clearly stormed the highest quarterback tier.
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Folks nonetheless don’t consider in Jalen Hurts?
But, the hesitation to purchase in on the authenticity of the brand new and improved Hurts persists. All season, lengthy league observers have waited with bated breath for Hurts to descend from the Cloud 9 he’s been floating on. It by no means got here. Since Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen elbowed his manner into play-calling duties through the second half of the 2021 season, the Eagles have soared.
Hurts has morphed into an offensive motherboard whose triple-threat ability to read coverages, run and pass, and decide in an instant which would demobilize the defense, transformed the Eagles into a three-dimensional offense that shattered rushing touchdown records. Operating from a clean pocket behind a premier offensive line, Hurts is a scalpel-wielding RPO master. Occasionally he’ll wield a sword and decapitate defenses loading the box to stop the run with a deep bomb to DeVonta Smith or A.J. Brown.
The irony of San Francisco being trounced, after scratching by means of the underside of their depth chart the place their “break glass in case of emergency” fifth quarterback ought to have been, is that Hurts matches the archetype that Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers had in thoughts once they drafted Trey Lance. Having Hurts’ Tremendous Bowl ascension burrowed into the Niners’ reminiscence banks could also be what retains Lance in San Francisco for one more season.
How do Mahomes and Hurts stack up?
Hurts and Mahomes signify the dichotomy in play between cellular quarterbacks. What Mahomes does is harder to copy. He’s the very best sideways scrambler within the NFL. His behavior of improvising and main defenders into some form of labyrinth, then creating performs exterior the pocket whereas protecting the specter of a move alive till he decides to flick it ahead for a primary down or preserve it for himself is a cheat code.
A move rush crashing by means of brings out Hurts’ mortality. Underneath duress, Mahomes has an innate equanimity. Whereas Hurts operates out of designed runs or scrambles in environment friendly, straight traces, Mahomes is an summary dancer who can emerge from a muddy pocket with a bleach-white jersey. This season, his deep ball passing occurred much less regularly as a result of void left behind by the commerce of Tyreek Hill, however he sprinkled the ball round to tight finish Travis Kelce first, operating backs second, and receivers third with outstanding effectivity.
And but, with that reliance on his legs, he led all the league in passing for the second time in 5 years. Via 13 playoff video games, Mahomes is the all-time pace-setter with the best QB Ranking, touts the bottom interception proportion, the second-highest completion proportion, and the fourth-highest yards per try common. His first down scramble on a tenderized ankle that vanquished Cincinnati was illustrative of Mahomes’ brilliance.
Hurts and Mahomes’ matchup going down towards the backdrop of the 2023 NFL Draft which will characteristic two black quarterbacks coming off the board within the first two picks is a testomony to the shifting tides for the NFL’s status place.