Arizona Cardinals know full well what they’re facing in Eagles’ Jalen Hurts

Dec 30, 2023, 6:56 AM

Jalen Hurts throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks...

Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws on the run in the third quarter at Lumen Field on December 18, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Another week, another mobile quarterback in Philadelphia Eagles signal caller Jalen Hurts to contend with for the Arizona Cardinals.

After watching Justin Fields do his thing in Arizona’s Week 16 loss to the Chicago Bears, the Cardinals now have the task of stopping Hurts and an explosive Eagles offense on Sunday.

“I told the defense today that we didn’t do a good enough job against Justin,” Gannon said Tuesday. “We’ve got to execute a lot better than what we did because Jalen is also a guy that can extend plays.

“They generate explosives when he is on the move and then he can also tuck it and run it and he’s a tough tackle, so we’ve got to do a much better job of keeping him in the well when we need to keep him in the well and executing at a high level on defense to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The head coach added that there were some good things at times against Fields, but at the end of the day, execution and some of the things Arizona had structured just didn’t come to fruition like it had thought.

Fields’ nine carries for 97 yards and a touchdown — in addition to his 170 yards and one TD to an interception on 15-of-27 passing — was proof of that.

Fields and the 6-9 Bears, however, are nowhere near Hurts and an 11-4 Eagles team looking to make a return trip to the Super Bowl.

Hurts is putting together arguably his best season as a pro. Through the air, he’s completed 65.5% of his passes for 3,636 yards and 20 touchdowns. His 13 interceptions are really the only blemishes on Hurts’ resume through the air.

He’s an absolute problem on the ground, too, racking up 576 yards and an NFL-record 15 scores on 147 carries.

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has all the MVP hype right now, but Hurts has put together a worthy campaign himself and should not be overlooked.

For safety Budda Baker and the rest of the defense, it’s all about stopping the run game led by near-1,000-yard rusher D’Andre Swift and containing Hurts inside the pocket in the hopes of avoiding extended plays at all costs.

Easier said than done.

“He’s a QB who has it all, can do it all,” Baker said Wednesday. “Inside the pocket he makes his throws, but outside the pocket is where he’s very accurate, can throw across the body, is strong enough to break tackles and create explosive plays out the run game as well, but also has his head down the field looking to throw.

“Compared to Justin Fields last week, he was kind of scrambling to run, Jalen Hurts does a little bit of both.”

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