The New England Patriots have a tough task on Sunday, stopping Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles high-powered offense. Bill Belichick knows what his defense is up against, admitting Hurts will be the hardest to prepare for leading up to the game.
When asked if practice squad quarterback Malik Cunningham can mimic Hurts in practice, Belichick dismissed the notion. Arguably the greatest defensive coach in league history tipped his quarterback to what Hurts has become.
“We’re talking about a guy who was second in MVP voting last year, or whatever he was,” Belich said on Hurts. “Athletically, there’s some similarities, but you’re talking about arguably the best player in the league, or one of the top two or three best players in the league. Nobody has anybody that can be him, and if they do, that guy’s probably not playing on the scout team for that team anyway.”
Hurts completed 66.5% of his passes for 4,280 yards with 25 touchdowns to just six interceptions for a 100.8 passer rating in his 18 starts last season (including playoffs), while also having 903 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns (the most in a season by any quarterback in league history). Hurts reached 5,183 total yards and 43 total touchdowns to just seven turnovers in those 18 starts, as the Eagles were 16-2 in those starts. He’s the first player in NFL history to post a 100-plus passer rating and have 10-plus rushing touchdowns in a season.
The Eagles quarterback had one of the best games of his career in the Super Bowl LVII loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, completing 27 of 38 passes for 304 yards with a touchdown and a 103.4 passer rating. He also added 15 carries for 70 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback to rush for three touchdowns in a Super Bowl.
Belichick didn’t shy on his praise on Hurts, which is why — in his eyes — it’s near impossible to replicate what he does every week.
“I mean, it is what it is. We go through that every week,” Belichick said. “Every team’s got a few good players, and some great players, and it’s hard to replicate those players. If you have one, your guy’s probably not on the scout team doing that for that guy anyway. You do the best you can.
“We’ll have somebody to try to simulate the best we can what Hurts does. But we don’t have anybody like Hurts, and probably, neither does anybody else.”