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Spadaro: Jalen Hurts delivers the perfect response once again

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

PHOENIX – There isn't a question quarterback Jalen Hurts hasn't been asked this week (media availability ends on Thursday, thank goodness), but one answer really says the most about him and about the mentality of this Eagles team and it is consistent with his messaging and that of Head Coach Nick Sirianni from the entire season.

When asked about individual recognition and being a finalist for the league's Most Valuable Player Award (to be announced Thursday night at NFL Honors), Hurts delivered the perfect response: A single player's acclaim is a byproduct of team success.

"I think all of those individual awards come, you don't do those things by yourself. Any of them," he said. "That goes down the line of history. I'm obviously blessed to be up for that award and I'm blessed to be here and I'm definitely soaking this all in. I put in a lot of hard work to be where I am and be where we are."

Hurts is a grinder, and for all of the spectacular plays he makes and the highlights he creates, the core of his football being is his work ethic. He is his own worst critic, and that enables him to accept tough love in coaching. He is extremely focused, evoking the legendary mindsets of former NBA stars Michael Jordan and the late Kobe Bryant.

His greatness started long ago, and he credits his upbringing for what is happening now, the success he is having at the game's highest level just a few days away from starting the Super Bowl as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.

"I think my parents prepared me for all of this," he said. "I think my parents, and everything I've been able to endure and go through, I call them formative experiences. I feel like good, bad, or indifferent, I feel like that shapes who you are. Everything you go through is an opportunity to learn from."

The national reporters – and international reporters, as well – are in the discovery portion of their Jalen Hurts Experience. They want to know about his past and how he has overcome adversity. They want to get a better handle on his "style" of quarterback play – for the record, Hurts says, "I feel I play the game in a different way" – and they want to know his thoughts on making history with Patrick Mahomes as the two become the first pair of Black quarterbacks to start a Super Bowl game. They want to know about his focus, his demeanor, his everything.

Which, of course, three seasons into his career, we already know.

What we want to know is what Hurts is going to do to help the Eagles beat the Chiefs on Sunday in Super Bowl LVII. We're at this point, just a handful of days from Sunday, when it's time to focus on how to beat the Chiefs.

What answers will Hurts have?

"I feel very confident in those around me who work so hard and who play so well and who allow me to operate at a high level," Hurts said. "It's not about me. It's about the team. Football is the ultimate team game, and you can't have one player with the belief that he can succeed without the others around him. We all know that is the most important thing about this game. It is about the team."

His teammates share that view. They don't want anything "extra" from Hurts on Sunday. They just want Jalen to be Jalen.

"A defense is going to try to minimize what he can because Jalen is such a dynamic talent," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "That's the chess match that goes back and forth in every game. Every team tries to take him out of the equation, but we've seen this year that it's hard to do that."

"I think Jalen just has to do his job, just like all of us," running back Miles Sanders said. "Do your job. We've said it all season. Don't try to be somebody you're not. We know what kind of team we have. We know our roles and we know that our responsibility is to play within those roles and be great at our jobs."

"Jalen doesn't have to do anything out of the ordinary," wide receiver DeVonta Smith said. "Just play ball."

That's what this all comes down to, right? We've heard all about the "scene" at the Super Bowl. The Eagles are going to have a great understanding of what the Chiefs want to do defensively with their pressure packages, led by the talents of defensive tackle Chris Jones and a very strong group of edge pass rushers. This is Steve Spagnuolo's defense, born from the genius of the late Jim Johnson, and we saw it for so many years in Philadelphia.

Kansas City wants to present pressure, and the Chiefs will blitz if they must. But they will also present the illusion of pressure, and that creates problems, too.

"They don't have to blitz, because they've been able to generate a good rush with four and five players," Johnson said. "They're really good up front."

The answers must come from Hurts and his decision-making. Will the Eagles run the ball heavily on Sunday or will they attack in the air with Smith and A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert?

Or will they see how it works as they see what the Chiefs give them?

"It changes every week. It's a pick-your-poison thing with us," Hurts said. "That's how we have played it all season."

That's the truth. And there is no reason to change it up now. No reason to overthink the situation. No reason to reinvent what has worked to this point.

"We are going to play our game," Hurts said. "We're here to play football and do what we do. That's our approach."

And that, after all the questions and the attention and the side stores, is the point here: Play Philadelphia Eagles football, with Jalen Hurts leading the way on offense, and win the Super Bowl. That's why the Eagles are here preparing to play their best game of the year in the biggest game of the season.

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