A new year, a new challenge, and, as quarterback Jalen Hurts sees it, that's all great. The team's Super Bowl LVII appearance is in the rear-view mirror and now it's on to 2023 and Training Camp that begins in late July.
The goal: Take it a step beyond.
"Nothing that has been done prior will get us to where we want to be now," Hurts said as the offseason ended and the players went their separate ways to begin a six-plus-week true away-from-the-facility down period of time. "There are a ton of experiences that we documented and definitely deposited in the bank, if you will, to learn from and we will learn from and have learned from. It's a day-by-day thing and I think everybody is taking that approach and we're excited to continue that progression."
This, of course, has been a huge 2023 to date for Hurts and he looks for more after his dominating (374 total yards, four total touchdowns) performance in the Super Bowl followed by a long-term contract extension. Hurts is constantly "fueled" and "motivated" and he has the goal, both individually and collectively as a team, of being the very best. There is no new message from Hurts and no drastic change in terms of how he plans to prepare for the season in front of him. He knows he has weaknesses – he keeps them to himself and his coaches – and he wants to turn them into strengths.
"It's all about getting better," he said.
With that, there is the constant pressure Hurts puts on himself. The push for perfection, while just not attainable, is what drives Hurts. And when it is something that first comes from within, being pushed by coaches is not an issue: Hurts embraces it. He desires it, and Head Coach Nick Sirianni understands what he sees in his star quarterback.
"Jalen may be the most coachable person I've ever been around in my life. He's just always looking to get better," Sirianni said. "Now, that's our job as coaches, to make sure we're feeding him good information. He's so coachable, he just keeps getting better, and he keeps getting better, and he keeps getting better. I see another jump in everything that he's done with accuracy, with the decision-making ... I do see his development continuing. That's what we talk about with Jalen all the time. I don't know what his ceiling is because he just keeps getting better, and he's going to continue to do that. I've seen that same jump, the speed with which he makes the decision, the accuracy of his throws. He's really had a good spring."
The fire that burns inside Hurts continues to rage. That's just his nature. He wants it all.
"I think the thing that kind of keeps me going is being my biggest critic," Hurts said. "Certain things are allowed, but for me it may not be, so knowing that, staying true to that, staying true to myself and also staying true to my coaches, taking that coaching and continuing to grow."
The new contract hasn't changed Hurts a bit, he says. "I'm the same guy. Same approach. The numbers may have changed, but same guy. Same approach. Same goals. Same dream."
The parting message from the spring with Hurts is this, then: Just stay true to yourself and understand the goals in front of you are from a team level. When the Eagles win, Hurts has said many times, the individual accolades follow.
Last season's journey to the Super Bowl was special, but just not quite enough. The season ahead affords a new opportunity for one more step of success.
"It's everything that I've always known about myself. It's just a matter of staying diligent," Hurts said. "Stay diligent, embrace everything that comes with it. The road is not always pretty. It's not always what you would think it would be, but embrace the different things that come along in that journey. I always say that there is no arrival, there's only the journey. I use so many different things to fuel me to keep going. That's all I ever want to do. That's all I ever want to be, be the best player I can be, be the best teammate I can be.
"That takes a lot of constructive criticism, self-criticism and also self-awareness of knowing who you are and where you are and how far you've come. The same thing remains: The only direction is to rise and that's a mentality that I have and I think this team has."
When they return to the NovaCare Complex – after the players "make good decisions," said Hurts, in their time off – they will lay the foundation and see what this team is all about. And the climb will begin again. And the steps to success will be taken, in detail, with the ultimate goal in mind.