The Philadelphia Eagles will be starting their 2021 NFL season on the road against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1. It will be the first chance opportunity for Jalen Hurts to show that he should be the team’s starting quarterback not only this season but into the future.
Last season, Hurts did a majority of his damage against opponents with his legs. He was excellent running the ball, rushing for 354 yards and three touchdowns on 63 attempts. Unfortunately, he didn’t find the same success through the air.
Coming into the NFL, there were questions about whether or not Hurts could get the job done through the air. He didn’t do much to quiet those doubters during his rookie season, as he completed only 52 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions.
The Eagles are hopeful that a full offseason as the starter will help him improve his passing game. Philadelphia doesn’t have the strongest group of wide receivers, but they did add reigning Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith, with their first-round pick.
He will lead a wide receiver group that has 2020 first-round pick, Jalen Reagor, as well. Dallas Goedert is a solid option at tight end, while Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell are all solid pass-catchers out of the backfield.
But, Hurts won’t need superstar-level pass catchers to pick apart the Falcons in Week 1. There aren’t many better teams for Hurts to make his season debut against to gain some confidence and get off on the right foot as the new franchise quarterback for the Eagles.
In 2020, the Falcons were the worst pass defense in the NFL. They struggled to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks, totaling only 29 sacks on the season. Coming into 2021, they have the worst-ranked EDGE rushers unit in the league. Grady Jarrett is the only premier player on their defensive front, so Hurts should have plenty of time in a clean pocket to throw the ball.
Atlanta surrendered 4,918 yards and 34 touchdowns through the air last season. The yardage was the most in the NFL while the touchdowns were the third most, tied with the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. Three teams gave up 35 touchdowns in the air while the Detroit Lions gave up the most passing touchdowns with 38.
Only nine teams surrendered more rushing yards to quarterbacks last season than the Falcons as well. They gave up 347 yards and six touchdowns, so Hurts should find some rushing alleys to take advantage of, too.
Despite the underwhelming wide receiver group, Jalen Hurts is in a great position to get the 2021 season started with a bang against what could be one of the worst defenses in the NFL this upcoming season.