Jalen Hurts Is The Future of Football | afootballaddict.com

Jalen Hurts

Every sport goes through eras of greatness that people pass down, and talk about the history of said sport. It’s one of the most entertaining parts of football for me is how teams are constantly creating new things to become the best and counter new trends. 

Whether it’s with how Alabama emphasized the special teams part of football this year, or it’s Chip Kelly’s 5 second offense that lead them to a 2011 national championship and honestly helped carry Mark Helfrich to the 2014 championship. We have seen the NFL turn from a defense wins championships type league, to a league that is now the best defense is a good offense. The running back position is being devalued more and more, even though we see it is still effective. The Dallas Cowboys bought in on Ezekiel Elliott, and they showed running the ball still can make a great NFL team; yet in the end we still are watching two teams, that use their running backs to compliment the passing attack.

Marcus Mariota struggled his rookie season, leading me to believe that college quarterbacks from unique passing systems aren’t cut for the NFL but Mariota bounced back and caught fire in the 2016 season. We are now seeing this mold of tall lengthy quarterbacks who have the ability to scare defenses with their legs. We see teams build wide receiving cores with 3 to maybe even 4 solid weapons,  and the wide receiver position has never been more popular. Getting a quarterback that can take it to the house himself, puts you ahead of the trend, but like all trends, will just become normal. To boot, we are seeing offense slowly, continued to trend upward, as these faster and more athletic players enter the league we see an evolution begin.

Last season we saw an all-time great in Peyton Manning finally hang it up with his 2nd Super Bowl ring. He may be competing in a Super Bowl this season, but Tom Brady will be 40 next season and his time is limited also. Drew Brees recently turned 38, and many are saying the Saints are looking on to life after Brees already. The position that was once ruled by high passing yards and touchdowns, is slowly fading away into a new era of football.

In this years draft we have DeShaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes III, and Deshone Kizer who all rushed for over 8 touchdowns this season. We also have the likes of Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, and J.T Barrett still coming in most likely next year’s draft. While you will always have your Jake Browning pocket passers, the position has opened into having a quarterback being one of the best athletes on the team. Teams are winning more and more with less passing and more efficient play calling. The short passing game has been implemented into more and more offenses, and more importantly, high power offenses. Just like how we saw James Harden switch to point guard this season, teams are wanting their best athlete to be quarterback because he has the ball in his hands the most. They are eliminating the step of having to get the ball to your playmaking running back and/or wide receiver by having their quarterback be able to get the touchdown himself.

Lamar Jackson just won the Heisman with his 51 total touchdowns and other video game stats, but many could see Lamar Jackson playing wide receiver if he wanted to because of the agility he possess. This national championship we saw two teams with some of the best mobile quarterbacks in the game, play each other. Out of all the quarterbacks I listed earlier, Jalen Hurts is the name that will be the most important. He is the perfect example of what this new mobile quarterback, he doesn’t make mistakes and plays like he is a senior. Oh yeah, he is younger than I am (19) and has at least one more season to get better. 

The stories of Jalen Hurts way before his days at Alabama. Growing up, Hurts was always in his father’s huddle listening on how to run an offense. He later played for his father in high school and earned himself a 4 star rating and rounding in roughly 17 D-1 offers. At 18 he is 6’2, 209 lbs but as we saw with A.J. McCarron, Alabama matures a kid into a man like no other. He threw for nearly 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns on 9 INTs, and ran for another 954 yards and 13 more touchdowns this season as a true freshman and lead his team to a perfect record until losing in the championship game.

In his first game against a flawed USC, but didn’t get the starting job. Instead Alabama went with Blake Barnett, and Hurts didn’t see the field till 2:44 in the 1st quarter. He threw the ball 11 times, completing only 6 and Alabama still won 52-6. Though he only had 150 yards, he was responsible for 4 total touchdowns and immediately made his presence felt on the field. In his second game versus Western Kentucky, he became the first freshman quarterback to start under Nick Saban’s offense.

During his freshman season Hurts only had an even touchdown-interception ratio four times, and once with a negative. Any time he would make a mistake, the odds are he would come back to fix it. His ability to poise and make up for his makes helps him be a leader of the offense. Calm, smart, speedy, decisive, are all words you can describe Hurts when he has the ball. Hurts went 8 games this season without an interception, and more importantly threw 0 interceptions in the College Football Playoff. Not only is the pressure at it’s highest in those games, but so is the level of talent of defense. The literal pressure that is applied from the defenses is as intense as you will find. Jalen Hurts has proved to be a man amongst boys, even though he was probably the youngest player on the field. He was voted the SEC Freshman of the Year, doing so by ranking 1st in total freshman yards and 4th (including running backs) in rushing yards a game as a freshman. Simple put, Jalen Hurts does what your team’s running back probably does. 

In today’s NFL we see quarterback who can scramble for 3 or 4 yards, and the occasional big run which makes defenses have to factor in his legs. Matthew Stafford is the perfect example, in no means is he a mobile quarterback, but defenses still watch for his scrambling ability. We see this with Andrew Luck, Dak Prescott, Alex Smith and many other quarterbacks. Cam Newton lead his team to the Super Bowl rushing for 10 touchdowns on his own. Those rushing touchdowns added three more wins to that season, as they would have lost their closer games without them. Evolving the game, the Panthers made it to where the ball is capable of getting into the endzone as soon as the ball is snapped.

When you face Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and many other great quarterbacks, you aren’t worried until that ball is released and into someone else’s hands. Having a quarterback that runs, takes away an extra defender thus giving the defense one less person to work with. Not only are you eliminating negative yards, you are increasing your ability to create explosive plays too.

Cam Newton has over 20 runs that have gone for 20+ yards including runs of 72 yard, 56 yard, and 55 yard runs on his short career. Marcus Mariota rushed for a career long 87 yard long run his rookie season, and both Cam Newton and Marcus Mariota rush for over 5 yards a carry. Having a quarterback that can cancel out on a broken play, and gain AT LEAST 5 yards a carry puts defenses at a loss from the start.

You have 10 yards to get a first down, and basically if you don’t get to the quarterback he can cut that in half just by himself.  I believe this draft class will push more NFL offenses to use a dual threat quarterback offensive scheme. Many point back to the Ole Miss game when Jalen gets decked and fumbles the ball for an Ole Miss touchdown. Hurts was blindsided, whipping his neck as he landed to the ground. The very next drive he goes on a three play drive to score, involving a huge pass, and a 26 yard run from Hurts. He got right back up, and made up for his mistake almost by himself; boosting Alabama to flip the game back into their favor. He finished the game with a team high in carries and yards, and the 5th most rushing yards for a quarterback in Bama’s long history with 146 yards. 

The game of football is changing just like every other sport does, and that means you either pick up on the changes or you fall behind. The NFL is becoming faster, and more offensive by the week, and bringing in a quarterback with legit 4.5 speed and can still toss the ball 60 yards down the field could completely change a franchise. Jalen Hurts brings just that, plus the championship mindset it takes to be successful. By this time next year we could be talking about the next quarterback teams will be scrapping to trade up for.