top of page
Search
  • sportsbroadcastsolutions

Is Jalen Hurts the ACTUAL 2022 NFL MVP?

Updated: Feb 28, 2023



Is Jalen Hurts the ACTUAL 2022 NFL MVP?

Jalen Hurts concluded his season in Week 18 by going 20 of 35 for 229 passing yards and an interception with 13 rushing yards on 9 attempts. Despite his so-so final outing, his 2022 regular season campaign will certainly be remembered as his breakout season. He led the Eagles to a NFC leading 14-3 record (0-2 in games Hurts missed) and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. His play led the dynamic Eagles offense to 3rd in offensive Defensive-Adjusted Value Over Average rating, where his dual threat potential finally started to bleed out. If you’re wondering, DVOA is a statistic founded by Football Outsiders. Hurts threw for 3,701 yards, 22 touchdowns and 6 interceptions; the best touchdown-interception ratio in the NFL this season. He also rushed for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2022. It’s been an incredible turnaround for the Alabama and Oklahoma product, after going a mediocre 9-10 in his first two seasons as an Eagle. The Eagles running game thrived in 2021 by leading the league in three different rushing categories, including rushing touchdowns. But the questions of Hurts and his ability to lead the passing game continued after getting dominated by Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs.

Going into this season, it wasn’t out of the question that he could be benched at some point after struggling to find his rhythm as a passer last season. But he’s definitely found his rhythm, and now looks like one of the most confident quarterbacks in the league each Sunday. With a clean pocket, his completion percentage is over 74%, where in 2021 it was slightly under 69%. His on-target percentage is slightly under 79% in 2022.

While putting up similar rushing splits to his 2021 season (784 yards, 10 touchdowns in 15 games), Hurts was really able to find his groove as a passer this season. He threw for 557 more passing yards and 6 more touchdowns while raising his completion percentage from 61.3% to 67%. The game just seems to have slowed down for Hurts. A big part of this has to do with the addition of receiver A.J. Brown. Because of his big play ability, Brown finished in the top 10 for receiving yards, touchdowns, yards-per-catch and yards per game while falling outside the top 10 in receptions. Still, in 17 games played, Brown is now the single-season receptions leader in Eagles franchise history . Standing at 6-foot-1 and a stocky 226 pounds, Brown’s ability has allowed Jalen Hurts to throw more risky deep passes. During the Eagles 35-13 win against the Steelers in week 6, J.T. O’Sullivan from the YouTube channel The QB School points out how Hurts won’t hesitate to throw deep to A.J. Brown in double coverage (Insert some sound bites here). This is because of their rapport and Brown’s ability to make plays in jump ball scenarios. Hurts threw 3 touchdowns of 25+ yards to A.J. Brown in this game. All 3 balls were thrown and caught in double coverage. The three-headed monster of A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert have been an extremely productive receiving core in 2022-23. The Eagles ranked 2nd in Pass DVOA through week 15, but finished the season 6th because of the two games Hurts missed. Individually, Hurts finished 7th in DVOA among quarterbacks who threw over 200 passes this season at 13.8%, up from -0.4% last season where he finished 17th. Hurts also finished the season 4th in CPOE among quarterbacks who played in over 75% of their games this season.

When you combine the improved passing with the already lethal running, that can cause a variety of different headaches for defenses. The Eagles were first in rushing DVOA this season at 14.3%. They were the only team other than the Ravens (10.4%) to finish over 10% in this category, with the rest of the league finishing under 8% for the season. The Eagles 3-back committee of Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell is good, but none of them are all-pro level talents. Hurts running ability is what puts the Eagles run game over the top. Hurts is the only quarterback other than Josh Allen to finish in the top 5 in DYAR (defensive yards above replacement) in both rushing and passing. With two full seasons under their belt, Hurts and coach Nick Sirriani have been mutual beneficiaries of Sirriani’s offense. The scheme has a lot of run-pass option, which Hurts has been proficient at since college.

RPO is much more effective with a player like Hurts because of his speed and athleticism, especially in the shotgun. Lots of RPO packages are built just to give quarterbacks the opportunity to roll out into space and get a clearer view of the field. Baker Mayfield, for instance, is very capable at making high level throws downfield while rolling out of a fake handoff. But defenses don’t have to worry about him taking off to run unless a play breaks down. With a player like Jalen Hurts, defenses essentially have to worry about another running back with the ability to throw the ball. One of their most successful formations is in shotgun, running back his left, two tight ends, two wideouts and one slot. The play option is to hand the ball to the back to dive right, throw a bubble screen to the slot, or keep and run. This formation also forces the short safety to pick between staying home and watching the run, or floating out to attack the slot getting the bubble screen. If the safety gambles on the bubble screen, Hurts is going to run for 10+ yards before getting tackled. The other issue is the defensive end. If the defensive end gets immediate penetration near the pocket, he has to make the choice of thinking that Hurts will hand it off or stay on the edge in case Hurts runs. If the defensive end overcommits to the handoff, Hurts can fake the handoff and run to the edge towards the sideline. Hurts has elite speed, so if the defensive end overcommits to the fake handoff, it’s practically a first down for the Eagles QB every time. His EPA on rush attempts is. 08, good enough for second among QBS. Hurts threw

for 1068 yards on 121 RPO , both tops in the league.

The emergence of Hurts as a consistent passer and advanced anticipator has really forced defenses to gamble more on him throwing, but Hurts speed makes the entire play design a nightmare to attempt to read. But the real improvement has come with Hurts’ anticipation and ability to make throws in the pocket. Last season, he struggled staying in the pocket because he would often panic and abandon his second and third reads to take off and run. A less extreme version of what Justin Fields did this season for the Bears. But this season he’s been much more patient with his reads, which explains why his completion percentage has gone up so dramatically when throwing only 28 more passes this season. He plays like someone who has the confidence and patience he’ll find one of his receivers open every time he drops back to pass, but also knows he can outrun virtually anyone on the field at the

same time. The difference between 2021 Jalen Hurts and 2022 Jalen Hurts is that in 2022 he figured out how to maximize every strength of his game.

When it comes to the Eagles 14-3 record, they were 14-1 when Hurts played. His only loss came against the Commanders in Week 10. He finished the game with a 175/2/1 passing line and 28 yards with a touchdown on the ground. Maybe the defining play of the game came in the first quarter after the Eagles had a 14-10 lead near the 6 minute mark of the second quarter. Hurts threw A.J. Brown a pass that likely would have been a 45 yard gain that was instead intercepted on the Eagles 10 yard line. The pass was thrown into double coverage, directly in between Brown’s wrists. He bobbled it and the Commanders’ defensive back snatched it from right out of his hands. The ball was actually placed so well that Brown may not have known exactly how to react. He was so covered that it’s actually possible one of the defender’s hands was blocking his vision of the ball too. Completing this play would’ve put them near the red zone, where they rank 6th in DVOA, and possibly put them up 21-10. Instead, the Commanders marched down the field and scored a touchdown with 1:39 left to play in the half. They’d get another field goal shortly after to make it 20-14 right before halftime. This was actually the first time in the season the Eagles would enter the second half without a lead. The Eagles hung in the entire game against their division rival Commanders, and actually didn’t play terribly. The Commanders pounded the ball over and over again, and ended up beating them 32-21. Here’s how their DVOA ratings for this game measure against their other games this season: Total DVOA: 24.2% (8th), Offensive DVOA 35.7% (3rd), Offense Pass DVOA 19.5% (9th), Offense Rush DVOA 54.7% (3rd), Defensive DVOA 8.7% (4th), Defense Pass DVOA: 0.7% (8th), Defense Rush DVOA: 12.9% (4th), Special

Teams DVOA: -2.8% (6th). Statistically, they played an above average game for the most part. But the biggest takeaway from this game was the time of possession. Washington won that battle 40:24 minutes to the Eagles’ 19:36. At one point in the 3rd quarter, the Commanders almost quadrupled the Eagles possession time. The Commanders went 12-21 on third down conversions and set the pace with 49 total rushes for 152 yards. While Hurts played an average game overall, it’s pretty hard to win a game when you only have the ball one-third of the time. Also, let’s not forget the egregious defensive face mask penalty that wasn’t called on the Commanders early in the 4th quarter, and a Quez Watkins fumble in the 4th quarter didn’t help out the Eagles, either.

So has Jalen Hurts done enough this season to be seriously considered for MVP? Right now, Vegas has Patrick Mahomes as a heavy favorite at -750, followed by Joe Burrow at +750, Josh Allen at +1000 and Hurts at +1200. According to Vegas, they are the only candidates to be seriously considered as Justin Jefferson currently has the 5th highest odds at 100/1. Hurts was the betting favorite going into week 15, so the timing of his shoulder injury really hurt his MVP case. It comes down to the Eagles week 16 road matchup to the Cowboys. If Hurts was healthy enough to play and played well enough to win that game, the MVP race would likely be in Hurts favor. Winning this game would’ve sealed the number 1 seed as well as stick it to their 5th seed division rival in their house on a nationally televised game. It would also have been hard to hold the final three games against Hurts because they wouldn’t have had an impact on the Eagles regular season outcome. They ended up losing in a 40-34 shootout on Christmas Eve, with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew throwing 2 interceptions. Mahomes will likely be the MVP this season and has the numbers to back it up. But his team’s play in the last 5 weeks of this season was below its Super Bowl contender expectations, including a loss to the Bengals, two wins within a touchdown difference to the last place Broncos and Texans. In fact, the Chiefs had to hold on for dear life in overtime to beat the second-worst record Houston Texans. The Chiefs have struggled to put teams away all season. Even though they have the highest offensive DVOA at 25.7%, they ranked 28th in variance, which reflects on the consistency of the offense. Ugly or pretty, the Chiefs did rip off a 5-game win streak to close out the year, where they heavily relied on Mahomes to carry them through the game and make big plays down the stretch. Mahomes’ huge numbers this season and the Chiefs 14-3 record would’ve made him a strong MVP candidate regardless of the competition, but Hurts substantial jump this season as a quarterback and a winner would’ve made a terrific MVP case had he not gotten hurt. As the Eagles and Chief will both roll into the playoffs at 14-3 with the number 1 seeds, there’s a real possibility we’ll ultimately have an MVP duel to look forward to in February.

It would be Chiefs vs. Eagles in the Super Bowl, but did Hurts outperform Mahomes this season? This stat might answer that question for the average football fan. Eagles wide receivers weren’t great at creating separation this season at just 2.01 yards, while the Chiefs were top ten in the league at 2.13. Even without Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs wide receiving corps is still better than the Eagles led by A.J. Brown. Even more interesting, Mahomes threw 25 interceptable passes and recorded 33 danger plays according to Pro Football Focus. The Eagles starting QB Hurts had a lower bad ball percentage than Mahomes at just 13.5%. Bad ball percentage means a wobbly, non-spiral pass. Hurts has arguably been much more careful with the football this season than Mahomes, and it showed on the field. Once again, the Eagles only lost one game with Hurts as the starting QB. Does Mahomes have a justifiable right to win another MVP Award? Absolutely, but Hurts is probably more deserving in our opinion at Sports Broadcast Solutions. But who do you think should win the 2022 MVP? Make sure to comment below and subscribe to Sports Broadcast Solutions.






55 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page