Jalen Hurts will need to lead Philadelphia Eagles to Week 1 shootout win

Jalen Hurts #1, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Jalen Hurts #1, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

One can never be too sure about what to expect during the NFL season, especially when it comes to Week 1, but there’s something that you’re going to have to understand about the Philadelphia Eagles‘ first game versus the Atlanta Falcons. Jalen Hurts is going to have to win this one for his football team.

This will not be a showcase of defense. Expect some big plays. Expect a few haymakers.

If you’re looking for a test with which to grade Jalen Hurts and where he is right now, here’s a question that you might want to ask yourselves. Can he lead a young Eagles offense with a lot of new pieces into a road NFL game and come out on top?

Week 1 is going to be a shootout, and for Philly’s QB1 to walk out of Mercedes Benz Stadium with a mark of 1-0, he’s going to have to figure out how to manufacture several scoring drives, preferably the types of drives that end in six points and an extra-point attempt.

Here’s what Jalen Hurts is up against as we head into Week 1.

For the Falcons, life without Julio Jones begins. This is the first time Matt Ryan won’t have Julio to rely on since 2010, but the Falcons have some chess pieces.

Ryan didn’t have Jones for seven games, but he still threw for 26 touchdowns thanks to the presence of guys like Calvin Ridley (90 receptions, 1,374 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns in 2020) and Russell Gage (72 receptions, 786 yards, and four touchdowns as the Falcons 3rd receiver in 2020).

Then, there’s this. Atlanta added former Eagles prospect, someone much of this fan base and the Philly media wanted even more so than DeVonta Smith, tight end Kyle Pitts.

He’s as close to a sure thing as a rookie first-round draft choice can be as he tallied 100 receptions for 1,492 yards and 18 receptions during three seasons and 24 games for the Florida Gators at the collegiate level. Most of that came despite having to play with, shall we say, less than elite play from the quarterback position.

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Keep this in mind as well. The Birds passing defense allowed a 102.4 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks in 2020 and were ranked 26th in yards-per-attempt. Expect a bounce-back season from Darius Slay who was good but not great. Philly also adds Steven Nelson, and that should help a ton.

Still, this is a relatively young unit with a lot of inexperienced pieces and a new/young defensive coordinator in Jonathan Gannon. It’s going to take time for this unit to gel, but they’ll be aided by a defensive front that adds Ryan Kerrigan after finishing third in the NFL in sacks a season ago.