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Can Hurts survive running this much?


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Can Hurts survive running this much?



No quarterback has ever run like this. Not this much.

Jalen Hurts has 68 official rushing attempts so far this year, the most in NFL history by a quarterback after five games. Billy Kilmer of the 49ers had 60 through five games in 1961. Even if you subtract Hurts’ seven kneel downs, he still has more than Kilmer did 61 years ago (kneel down figures aren’t available before 1994).

Two things are indisputable: 

1) Hurts is a nearly unstoppable weapon when he takes off and runs. He’s already rushed for six touchdowns this year — that’s the second-most ever by a quarterback after five games — and he’s rushed 22 times for a first down, second-most in the league this year behind only the Browns’ three-time Pro Bowl running back, Nick Chubb (27). He’s a ridiculous 11 for 13 on 3rd- or 4th-and-1 this year (85 percent). That’s not only the most conversions in the league but the highest percentage among players with five or more attempts.

2) He's taking a beating. The more Hurts runs, the more times he gets hit, and the more times he gets hit, the more he’s at risk of injury or just the cumulative effects of hit after hit.

Nick Sirianni’s job is to balance these two truths. It’s not easy to do. You don’t want to eliminate something Hurts does better than anybody else in the league. But you also need to try and keep him healthy.

"We never want him to take a lot of hits or any hits really for that matter,” Sirianni said Monday. 

"Some of those carries too, you're going to have to calculate in. Like seven of them (Sunday) were quarterback sneaks (and) you guys all saw how we handled a couple of those things yesterday. 

"Not to say that that's a safe play for him either, but it's safer than the other ones in our opinion. But we're going to do what we need to do to win the football game. One of the things that makes Jalen a really good quarterback is the ability that he has to throw the ball, read the defenses and have the ability to move around and make plays.”

But Hurts is in unprecedented territory when it comes to running the ball.

He’s 17th in the NFL in carries, which means he’s run the ball more than 15 starting running backs.

Donovan McNabb — who was in the Eagles’ locker room in Phoenix Sunday — was a terrific running quarterback, and he never had more than 86 carries in a season. Hurts already has 68 in five games.

He’s on pace for 231 carries, which would be 55 more than the record for QBs — Lamar Jackson’s 176 in 2019. Hurts had 139 carries last year, which is 5th-most ever by a QB. He’s on pace for nearly 100 more than that this year.

"He's smart with how he takes hits,” Sirianni said. "He's not going to be able to protect himself completely every single play, but he knows how to not take a hit.”

Hurts had 15 carries against the Cards, 16 vs. the Jaguars and 17 in Detroit. No other NFL QB has more than 13 carries in any game. 

He already has five career games with at least 15 rushing attempts. Jackson is the only QB in history with more in his entire career.

He’s such a weapon and the biggest single reason the Eagles are 5-0. But there’s a reason every Eagles fan holds their breath every time he takes off with the football or disappears in the middle of a giant pile moving toward the goal line.

"He's really shifty,” Sirianni said. "He ran one (Sunday) on an empty play, kind of got out of the pocket, and he has the linebacker trying to tackle him.

"He sticks his left foot in the ground and then makes a cut, and now that guy that you thought, ‘Oh, he was about to get hit.’ With how shifty Jalen is, he’s about to get hit, he doesn't take that hit. 

"So we trust Jalen. We trust him in those scenarios as well to not take big hits. Again, you're not going to be completely perfect with that. Jalen is going to be like all our other guys at this point of the year where you're five games into it, right now your body is not going to feel like it did at the beginning of training camp.

"But are we always trying to be smart with him? Of course. We don't want to put him in danger. There is a difference between running him recklessly and really going through every play of when he is a running threat and say, ‘Are we putting him in harm's way?’ Which is what we do in each and every case.”


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Title of this article is a fair question.  Over time, his number of carries will certainly have to go down...a lot.  Hurts tends to want to run a lot in the red zone.  Wonder if the shortened field impacts his confidence of finding a receiver to get the ball to.  In any case, he has to progress more as a passer and tone down the running if he wants to survive in this league for the long haul.

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