Everyone has setbacks of some kind. I have experienced setbacks. You have experienced setbacks. Jalen is no different. Being benched at Alabama changed his life for the better. Let’s address some issues that many people have brought up about Hurts.
“No other starting quarterback has ever been benched at Alabama.”
No other starting quarterback at Alabama had a 5-star phenom waiting in the wings to take over. Tua was a triple treat: Not only could he (1) accelerate quickly he was also agile on his feet, (2) could read the field in milliseconds, (3) throw into a tight window with laser accuracy, and put the ball right in a receiver’s hands in mid stride.
It’s one thing when you can put a ball in a receiver’s general vicinity forcing him to reach for it. It’s quite another to put the ball so close to a receiver all he has to do is open his hands and grab the ball without having to slow down or overextend himself to get it. Those of you that have never played the sport think watching receivers overextend themselves to catch a ball is a thing of beauty. It is but in actuality it more often than not means he’s overcoming a quarterback’s inaccuracy. Jalen was pretty good but at that time he could not check off any of those boxes.
“He was benched because he was black.”
First of all, not even mentioning Walter Lewis from decades ago, Blake Sims and Andrew Zow came before Hurts. Secondly, Tuanigamanuolepola Tagovailoa is not white. If anything Nick Saban facilitated another Alabama first by having a Samoan for a starting quarterback. Yes, Jalen did come back into the game the following year to win the SEC championship against Georgia but that was because Tua had suffered a season ending injury. Jalen had time to improve during the off season with a quarterback coach but still not enough to regain the starting quarterback position.
“He ended up replacing Tua and winning.”
Refer to paragraph above—Tua had been plagued with career ending injuries since two Mississippi State linemen landed on him causing a dislocated hip. I don’t care what anyone says. After an injury like that many other guys would have been done. Nevertheless, I’m left scratching my head trying to figure out how the injury is Tua’s fault as any football player is susceptible to serious injury.
“Lincoln Riley made Jalen a better quarterback.”
Jalen went to Oklahoma and made the same series of short passes with an occasional deep ball and relied on scrambling for first downs and touchdowns just like he did at Alabama. If Lincoln Riley taught him anything it didn’t show in each game I watched Oklahoma’s entire season.
The only thing that changed was switching from the toughest conference in the nation to playing in a soft Big 12 conference. Once Jalen came across LSU in the Peach Bowl he ran into the same issues that plagued him in the SEC. LSU shut down all of Jalen’s short passes, contained his running, and they scored 63 points. The only reason Jalen transferred to Oklahoma was to finish out his eligibility playing as a starting quarterback instead of sitting on the bench at Alabama. It was Nick’s idea for Jalen to transfer to Oklahoma! Had Jalen stayed in the game against Georgia he not only would have lost he would have continued in his same trajectory of losing and he would have killed his chances at playing in the NFL.
While at Alabama Jalen had the winningest coach in NCAA history who has put more football players in the NFL than any other program in the NCAA, was surrounded by 5-star athletes who created the #1 team in the nation, the #1 defense in the nation, and had the fastest wide receivers in the nation. All of them currently in the NFL. Furthermore, Nick paired Jalen with Quarterback coaches in the off-season, which was why he got marginally better when he replaced Tua after suffering season ending injuries. If you think all of that is a none factor either something is mentally wrong with you or you electively choose to bask in denial.
After Jalen graduated with his undergrad degree from the University of Alabama, graduated from Oklahoma with a masters degree, drafted in the second round and started playing for the Eagles he wasn’t wearing anything from Oklahoma he was wearing an Alabama T-shirt. When the media asked him questions about Alabama and Oklahoma he quoted work ethics he learned while at Alabama not at Oklahoma.
Both Jalen and Tua played with the same team. The same 5-star receivers that Jalen either under threw or over threw to was the same 5-star receivers that Tua had over 90% accuracy hitting whether with short or deep passes up the middle of the field, to the sidelines or in the red zone. Yet you wonder why Tua was picked in the top of the first round while Jalen was picked near the bottom of the 2nd round.
Once in the NFL Trent Dilfer spotted Jalen’s weakness called “left leg lockout.” He advised Jalen to fix the problem or he wouldn’t last in the NFL. Elite quarterback trainer Quincy Avery who worked with Jalen in the offseason explained left leg lockout as: “When he would stride his left leg would get really, really straight,” Avery explained. “When your leg is straight, you kind of pop up and down, your head goes up and down, you lean forward and rock forward. It’s really problematic.” Needless to say he has improved drastically.
Some of you will continue to ignore game by game video footage, professional analyses, and statements from the very men that cited Jalen’s weaknesses and helped to improve upon them—You’ll continue to blame everyone from Nick Saban all the way down to the kid wearing the Big Al costume dancing around on the sidelines and endeavor to argue that there was a great injustice done to Jalen.
It’s more glamorous to believe in the Greek tragedy and canonize Jalen Hurts to martyrdom because the truth is less appealing. The point you should gather from all this is many people believe in Jalen because beyond his athletic abilities he has humility, character, drive, determination and a strong work ethic instilled in him by strong parenting. It is because of these aforementioned attributes that he is where he is today.
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