Jaguars' Pederson: Hurts 'going to defy all odds'

Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Few expected Jalen Hurts to become an unquestioned starter in the NFL when the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him in 2020, let alone blossom into an MVP candidate in just his second full-time season at the helm.

But former Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who'll return to Philadelphia for the first time with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, knew Hurts was a future star.

"He's going to defy all odds," Pederson said Wednesday, according to Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia. "That's just the way his career has been built. He's overcome adversity everywhere he's been, at Alabama and Oklahoma.

"Just not surprised. Not surprised that he's playing this well, and he's playing and really utilizing the guys around him to help him get these wins that they're piling up."

Pederson gave Hurts his first shot in the NFL, starting him four times as a rookie over a struggling Carson Wentz. While the signal-caller initially dealt with consistency issues, particularly as a passer, he flashed enough potential for the Eagles to hand him the reins for 2021.

After a solid campaign last season, Hurts has taken a huge leap through the first three weeks of this season. He has thrown for 916 yards and four touchdowns against one interception while adding 167 yards and three scores on the ground.

His improvements as a passer have come following the arrival of A.J. Brown -whom the Eagles acquired from the Tennessee Titans for a first-round pick - and amid a sophomore jump from DeVonta Smith.

After seeing his leadership skills up close as a rookie, Pederson isn't surprised Hurts has taken full control of the new-look Eagles offense.

"He was the same way," Pederson said. "He was a sponge. He wants to learn; he wants to get better. He's a professional, and he takes it serious. Those are the things that you want in your quarterback, out of the leader of your team. So there's no surprise that he's still doing that."

Pederson was hired by the Jaguars this offseason after a year away from football following his exit from Philadelphia.

The AFC South club enters the Week 4 matchup with a surprising 2-1 record following blowout wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts over the last two weeks.

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Jaguars' Pederson: Hurts 'going to defy all odds'
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