Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Geno Smith silence critics

Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa should no longer hear about their teams pursuing other quarterbacks.

The former Alabama teammates continued their MVP-caliber season with spectacular performances on Sunday. They have silenced critics who questioned their ability to be franchise quarterbacks and are preparing for a huge contract extension in the offseason.

Geno Smith is another QB who proved people wrong this season. The 32-year-old Smith is a full-time starter for the first time since 2014, and the Seahawks (5-3) surprisingly lead the NFC West.

Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles are off to a 7-0 start after a 35-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tagovailoa rallied Miami from a double-digit deficit in the second half in a 31-27 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Dolphins (5-3) are undefeated in the five games Tagovailoa has completed. He missed 2 1/2 games with a concussion.

Hurts threw four touchdown passes of 25+ yards against the Steelers, including three to AJ Brown in the first half. He has 1,514 passing yards and 10 TDs with just two interceptions. Hurts also ran for 293 yards and three scores.

The biggest question mark surrounding the Eagles entering the season centered around Hurts. They made the playoffs last year mainly because they had the best offense in the NFL and Hurts led the way. Blown by them in the wild card game, the Buccaneers knew they needed to improve their offense to contend for a title.

The team considered trading for quarterback in the offseason when Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and several other big name QBs traded uniforms. But Philly stuck with Hurts for another season, and the third year as a pro was excellent.

He still hasn’t reached his potential.

“Jalen’s the type of guy that’s going to continue to get better because of who he is, his football IQ, his football character, his toughness, how much he loves football,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “I’ve always been taught that those are the types of guys who reach their ceiling. I don’t know if we know what his ceiling is going to be. I do know this: He’s getting better every day and he’s committed to it. That’s a good thing for the rest of your team when your the best players and the captain are improving every day.”

Hurts is also a bargain. Hurts, who was a second-round pick in 2020 to replace Carson Wentz as the starter at the end of this season, is making $1.6 million. A total of 53 QBs do more.

“He’s not focused on what his next contract might be or what we’re going to do in three weeks or what the outcome of this season will be or anything like that,” Sirianni said.

Just don’t ask Hurt to talk about himself.

“People don’t see the work that is put in, not just by me individually, but … by everybody,” Hurts said. “It takes work. It’s hard work. The beauty of this team is that we’ve come together.”

Hurts led Alabama to the 2016 national championship as a true freshman, but lost to Clemson. He took them back to the national title game against Georgia the following season, but was on the bench at halftime to watch Tagovailoa lead a comeback win. Hurts transferred to Oklahoma for his senior season and finished second to Joe Burrow for the Heisman Trophy.

Now he’s a man in Philly.

Tagovailoa left Alabama after suffering a serious hip injury during his junior season, was drafted fifth overall by the Dolphins in 2020 and went 13-8 in his first two seasons. Still, there were many doubts about his future in Miami.

The Dolphins pursued Watson before the 2021 trade deadline and were penalized for handling Tom Brady after the season. When they walked away with Tagovailoa, they surrounded him with more talent and acquired star receiver Tyreek Hill in a blockbuster deal to pair with Jaylen Waddle.

Hill was dynamic and helped Tagovailo take his game to another level. Despite battling injuries and a concussion, Tagovailoa has 1,678 passing yards, 12 TDs, just three picks and a 112.7 passer rating.

Tagovailoa was sensational against the Lions on Sunday, completing 29 of 36 for 382 yards and three TDs.

“It was a play that we all know he’s capable of,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “He was relentless during the game and worried about the right things. I didn’t see him push and make forced decisions. He took what was there and protected the ball while being aggressive.”

Like Hurts, he’s not satisfied.

“The best thing about this game is you can never get content,” Tagovailoa said. “You’ve got to keep growing. We’re going to go watch film and look at things we could have done better. So that’s the best thing about it.”

Smith threw two TD passes and pitched another flawless game for Seattle in a 27-13 win over the New York Giants.

Smith, who was playing for his fourth team, was considered the Seahawks’ rebuilding representative until the team finds a franchise QB. So far, he has outplayed the superstar he replaced — Wilson — and resurrected his career after starting just five games in the previous six seasons.

Smith threw for 1,924 yards with a 72.3 completion percentage, 13 TDs and just three interceptions on a 107.2 passer rating.

“He’s the real deal,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “There’s no mystery that he’s going to run out of gas or something. It’s not like that. He knows exactly what he’s doing and he shows it to you week after week, pitch after pitch after pitch. We have nothing to hold him but inside.” the highest expectations indeed. What an exciting story for the boy. He just hung in there so hard and survived and now he’s enjoying all the fun. He did great.”


Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi


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