Jalen Hurts cemented his name in the NFL record books on Christmas Day, rushing for two touchdowns against the New York Giants to set the new league mark for most rushing scores in a season by a quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles emerging superstar has been on a tear in his third pro season, galloping past Cam Newton’s previous record of 14 rushing TDs back in 2011. Let’s break down Hurts’ historic campaign and examine how he pulled off this unprecedented feat for a QB.
Back With A Vengeance
After having his ascension temporarily stalled last year by an ankle injury, Hurts entered 2023 with a vengeance. The dual threat quarterback made it clear from the jump that he planned on taking the NFL by storm, efficiently leading Philly to a 8-1 start as he tore through opposing defenses on the ground.
Hurts formally put the league on notice by Week 10, tallying three rushing TDs versus the Houston Texans to tie Newton’s longstanding mark. Though a shoulder sprain shortly after sidelined the Alabama product for two games, he refused to be denied his rightful place on the throne. In only his second contest back from injury, Hurts officially claimed the top spot with a “tush push” TD on a QB sneak against New York.
A key reason why Hurts has flourished running the ball is by design. The Eagles boast the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack thanks greatly to a lethal quarterback run game masterminded by imaginative head coach Nick Sirianni and savvy offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. Series after series, Philly has kept opponents off balance with a mix of Hurts read options, QB draws, zone reads, and run-pass options (RPOs). It’s enabled last year’s NFC top seed to once again lead the conference this season at 13-3.
Hurts has also maximized his rushing production thanks to uncanny strength, speed and instincts. Checking in at 6’1″ and 225 pounds of solid muscle, he possesses the ideal sturdy frame to absorb hits and carry the rock. Hurts has regularly left linebackers grasping for air with his sharp change of direction. Additionally, the Eagles force wary defenses to account for elite playmakers like receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith downfield, opening wider rushing lanes for their multidimensional QB to exploit.
What It Means
There is no understating how phenomenal it is for a quarterback to even approach double-digit rushing touchdowns, much less shatter the previous season-best mark by one. Hurts’ unprecedented scoring prowess offers living proof that he is a uniquely transcendent running threat from the sport’s most important position. It also demonstrates emphatically why Philadelphia rewarded him last summer with a 4-year contract extension worth up to $196 million, including $113.4 million guaranteed.
As all eyes turn toward the postseason, everything seems aligned for the star passer and his Eagles to make a serious Super Bowl run. But if future opponents somehow haven’t yet woken up to the reality of containing Hurts as a rusher, he appears certain to continue giving them restless nights.
It will be fascinating to see if Hurts can add to his record total in Week 17 versus the surging New Orleans Saints. Another rushing score would make his mark almost untouchable for seasons to come in this pass-heavy era. It would also pull Hurts even with running back Miles Sanders’ team lead at 16 total touchdowns on the year.
Further down the line, Hurts still has ample opportunity at age 24 to someday unseat Michael Vick as the all-time leading rusher at quarterback. If Jalen can maintain his elite mobility and Philly’s offensive approach moving forward, Vick’s mark of 6,109 yards seems destined to fall. Buckle up your chin straps – this ride has only just begun. Based on his meteoric rise, one can only expect Hurts and his highlight reel plays to continue bringing Eagles fans roaring to their feet for years.
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