Nick Sirianni Backs Jalen Hurts After Eagles' Loss: 'I Feel Really Good' About QB

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 17, 2022

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) during the second half of an NFL wild-card football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
AP Photo/Jason Behnken

Jalen Hurts doesn't have many fans in Philadelphia right now after an ugly performance in Sunday's 31-15 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is backing his young quarterback.

"He didn't play his best game, as we all know. But you don't take the body of work that he had, 15 weeks, and ... put everything on this game," Sirianni told reporters Sunday. "I know we're all judged on the last game that we played, I fully get that, but I felt like Jalen grew throughout the year. And he got better as a passer, he got better reading the defense, getting the ball to the right place. He developed so much in his ability to extend plays, not only making plays with his feet but also making plays downfield on the scramble.

"I feel really good with what we have in place right here at the quarterback position. I thought he had a great year and he came a long way, and that's what I expect of Jalen just because of the character he has, the toughness he has, the love for football he has. I can't say enough things about Jalen the person and the player."

Hurts threw for 258 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions, seeming rattled for most of the game before finally hitting Kenneth Gainwell on a 16-yard touchdown pass in garbage time.

The Eagles were never competitive in the contest, with the Bucs scoring on their opening drive on their way to a convincing victory. Tom Brady threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, with Mike Evans hauling in nine passes for 117 yards and a score.

Hurts was done no favors by a stagnant running game. A returning Miles Sanders managed just 16 yards on seven carries, while Hurts led the team with 39 rushing yards. The Eagles closed the regular season with wins in six of their last eight games on the back of a strong ground game that limited the amount of responsibility Hurts had through the air.

"This game does not define us, does not define who we are," Hurts said. "We know all of the different things we have overcome, we know the environment that we've built as a football team and an organization. ... I know as a football team, we'll be back. And this is a feeling that will kind of simmer in our hearts and simmer for us all. And with the youth on this football team, we're definitely coming back hungry."

The Eagles were not expected to make the playoffs this season and will have three first-round picks to help bolster their roster in April. While it's still not entirely clear whether Hurts is a strong enough passer to develop into a franchise quarterback, the team can likely pass on the position and move into 2022 with Hurts and Gardner Minshew leading the way.