Three weeks ago, Jalen Hurts ran for 157 yards. Two weeks ago, he threw for 380 yards. A week ago, he really didn’t have to do much to lead the team to a 48-point output. So there are only a few things left on his bucket list this season. catch a touchdown, which would be very cool, but also a potentially dangerous risk; and play where he bowls 250+ and runs 100+. He hasn’t had it yet, a game like this would boost his already strong MVP rating. By the way, the Bears have given up 149, 158 and 172 rushing yards in their previous three games.
Jalen Hurts is the new next big thing
Josh Allen’s third season in 2020 broke QB ratings. In Allen’s first year, he was simply awful. He was MVP-caliber in year three, and in between he improved and not so well. Now everyone can hope any QB will be great. Physically gifted QB who doesn’t perform well in the draft (Anthony Richardson). The next prospect is Josh Allen. Your sophomore QB struggles (all from the 2021 draft). Josh Allen did too. Your rookie QB is playing like crap (all from the 2022 draft). Wait until next year next year, like the Bills did with Josh Allen. Entering this season, Jalen Hurts was one of the QBs that Allen was compared to. Even Jeffrey Lurie did it.
He was right, and now the tables have turned. Jalen Hurts is the new third-year QB that others are using as a touchstone.
Being the guy others hope their scrappy QB will turn into is about as high praise as you can get. No one is hoping their QB turns into a Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr or Jimmy Garropolo. They want the next Patrick Mahomes, the next Josh Allen, and now the next Jalen Hurts.
December rain on the parade
In November, Dan Orlowski said Justin Fields deserved MVP consideration after a four-touchdown game. Chris Trapasso called him the top QB in the 2021 class after a four-touchdown game. Never mind that those games were losses, or that three of the eight touchdowns were on the ground. Or that he only passed for 123 and 167 yards. Quarterback Justin Fields was kicking. This guy is incredible!
Now it’s December and that party is over. The Bears have been undefeated since October, and the Fields hype has thankfully dissipated. With four INTs in his last three games, Fields may be a hell of a runner, but he has a long way to go as a pass rusher.
If we use Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts as a guide, both made major improvements in their second year. Allen cut his interception rate in half and his passer rating by 18 points. Hurts improved his completion percentage by nearly 10 points, dramatically reduced his slugging percentage from 6-of-4 starts in 9-of-15 starts.
Fields has improved his touchdown rate this season from a pitiful 2.6% to 5.1%, but that’s quite a lot. Fields had the worst sack rate last season and has it again this season by a wide margin. He had the second-worst completion percentage last year and the fifth-worst this year. He had the worst interception rate last season and has it again this year. Yes, the talent around him is poor and he had a bad coach last year. But the same was true of Trevor Lawrence, and while Lawrence also struggled last year, he was definitely better last year and this year. And it’s not like Allen, whose top two WRs were John Brown and Cole Beasley, or Hurts with Jalen Raygor, had an abundance of talent to work with in their second seasons.
More importantly, the Bears don’t trust him. They spent the offseason making moves like he was a bench filler until they got the QB they wanted and barely let him pass in games. He attempted 17, 11, 17, 22 and 21 passes in the first five games of the season; his season high is 28 attempts. Hurts, who also threw less in his second season, had seven games with over 28 attempts last season. If you’re going to be a QB, at some point you have to start playing like one.
The children are fine
This week, Todd McShay breaks down how social media is changing the game. McShay suggested Georgia’s Jalen Carter, a possible Eagles pick if the Saints can help, will likely opt out on draft day “due to character issues.”
Todd McShay says Jalen Carter has character issues that could hurt him in the draft…
at the same time bidding Jaylen Carter go to the Seahawks with the No. 2 overall pick.
McShay was on the sauce in this episode. pic.twitter.com/uk14dBLBeb
— Jon Tweets Sports ☠️ (@jontweetssports) December 14, 2022
Watch the full video, McShay comes back to it at the end, when the man usually backs off his claim a bit. Instead, he doubles down. And the host’s physical reaction to McShay when he drops this is pretty funny.
These alleged character concerns were news to anyone covering the Bulldogs, but it never really mattered. It wasn’t that long ago that you could say something like that, be wrong about it, and get away with it. Everyone would just forget about it and move on with no consequences or regrets.
Not anymore. College players, now with the freedom of the transfer portal and NIL deals, also have the freedom to use social media to destroy ridiculous claims like McShay’s. And Carter’s teammates did. TE Ryland Goede tweeted. “What’s he like in the locker room, you ask? One of my favorite guys to be around. ALL-AROUND STUD as a player and as a friend.” DT Kristen Miller called him an “all-around great player and person.” WR Randon Jernigan called McShay’s claim “absolute bull and slander.”
Stats of the week that only I could care about
Matthew Stafford, coming off the worst season of his career, suffered what should have been a season-ending injury three weeks ago.
He still has more passing yards than the Bears.
Top 5 lines from Christmas Vacation
1. The jets were full.
I pity him who lights a match within ten yards of it.
2. THE BLESSING
I pledge allegiance to the flag…
3. Joy to the world…
Tell me you don’t do that when you turn on the lights
4. People make the difference. Little people like you.
5. I did it
Yeah, this line isn’t funny, but after everything finally comes together for Clark, that’s what the holidays are all about.