Over the past couple of seasons, Jalen Hurts has developed into one of the NFL's top quarterbacks. A dual threat to beat teams through the air or on the ground, Hurts was an inner-circle MVP candidate for most of last season, and he eventually led the Eagles to a Super Bowl berth as well. He was then rewarded this offseason with a lavish contract extension.
One person to whom this degree of success comes as no surprise is his former coach, Doug Pederson.
"It's really no surprise to me the success that Jalen's having right now and just wish him the best moving forward. But the things that impressed me the most are probably the things you see off the football field," Pederson said during a podcast appearance with NBC Sports Philadelphia.
"The leadership ability, his work ethic, the way he approaches the game, the way he studies the game, the way he wants to be coached -- he wants to be coached hard. The things that sometimes the fans don't see. They obviously see the end product on the football field. And he's a tremendous kid and tremendous talent. He's the right guy for that job and just wish him nothing but great success moving forward."
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Now with the Jaguars, Pederson was in Philadelphia for Hurts' rookie year. The former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback sat behind Carson Wentz for a while but was eventually inserted into the lineup down the stretch of the season. He played pretty well -- perhaps too well. With the Eagles unable to make the playoffs but potentially in position to land a better draft pick, Pederson actually benched Hurts for the final game of the year, which the Eagles lost, securing that better draft pick in the process.
Pederson was fired after that, though, and replaced by Nick Sirianni. Along with Shane Steichen and Brian Johnson, Sirianni built an offense first around Hurts' abilities as a runner and then gradually expanded it to allow him to do more through the air once the team brought in A.J. Brown to complement DeVonta Smith. So far, the plan has worked quite well.