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Brian Daboll on the development of Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts

Photo Credit by Philadelphia Eagles

ThrivePHILADELPHIA – Brian Daboll is one of the many football heavyweights who were in on the development of Jalen Hurts as a quarterback.

The first-year Giants head coach was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Alabama in 2017 when Hurts was set to enter his sophomore season after becoming the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Crimson Tide in 32 years.

Daboll quickly ascertained what most do when they are around Hurts.

“He’s one of the best leaders that I’ve been around, and he was young at that particular time,” the coach said. “He had leadership. He had toughness. He was all-day football. He knew how to relate to everyone in his unit. I’ll just say the mental toughness that he has, and his ability to just focus on the next thing, and not worry about what happened the last game, the last play. He comes from a football family.

“He really means a lot to me, just in the short time that I’ve spent with him.”

What “stunted” Hurts’ development if you want to call being the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and being the No. 53 overall pick in the NFL Draft stunted was the upheaval around the South Texas native.

Daboll is a perfect example of that. An NFL guy, Daboll spent a year in Tuscaloosa rehabilitating his professional future under good friend Nick Saban. By 2018, Daboll was back in the show as the offensive coordinator in Buffalo, the launching pad to his current job as the head coach of the Giants.

From the time Hurts arrived at Alabama to his MVP-level jump from 2021 to 2022 with the Eagles he had never had the same play-caller, a consistency that developed with the Eagles when Nick Sirianni made the decision that the CEO approach was best and shifted to Shane Steichen as the play-caller before the Los Angeles Chargers game on Nov. 7 of last season.

Current Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin was the leader of the Alabama offense during Hurts’ freshman year before he moved to the one-and-done Daboll. Then it was now-Maryland head coach Mike Locksley in 2018 before the transfer to Oklahoma and Lincoln Riley, perhaps the most well-regarded offensive mind in college football who is now at USC and developing Caleb Willians into a potential Heisman winner.

When Hurts arrived in Philadelphia, the goal was a cost-effective backup for the face of the franchise Carson Wentz. Wentz, of course, went off the rails while Hurts grinded, winning over Doug Pederson in the process.

Pederson ultimately revolted after being micro-managed a little too closely when it came to his coaching staff and Hurts was the kid in the divorce. In came Nick Sirianni, the shift to Steichen mid-season in 2021, and finally calm waters.

That is no coincidence in explaining Hurts winning 14 of his past 15 regular-season starts since the last time he visited North Jersey. Of course, neither are all those names. Being able to pick the brains of Kiffin, Daboll, Locksley, Riley, and Pederson – even for a short time – isn’t the worst thing in the world for a young QB.

Sirianni has often said he doesn’t know what Hurts’ ceiling as a player is but the Eagles’ coach knows his QB1 is going to reach it.

Daboll understood the same thing back in 2018 when Hurts was only 19.

“It’s a hard position to play, it’s a hard position to coach,” said Daboll. “Everybody wants instant gratification and that’s usually not the way it works, really with any position but particularly the quarterback position. There’s a lot of things that need to go right.

“All these players are talented, they’re talented coming out of high school most of the time and then into college. I’d say there’s a lot of things that play into that; the person, the player, the development aspect of it, the team around him, the playmakers around him, and it just doesn’t happen. It takes a lot of time; it takes a lot of effort.”

Daboll’s hand in developing Josh Allen in Buffalo got him the job he has now and he’s already had a major positive effect on talented New York QB Daniel Jones so his thoughts on Hurts resonate.

“A guy like Jalen, I haven’t been around him in the NFL, but I know the type of individual he is. He’s all about improvement,” said Daboll. “He’s all about consistency. He keeps the main thing the main thing. I don’t want to speak too much because, again, I haven’t been around him a lot, but I have a great amount of respect for him as a person and he has certainly improved each year.

“You watch him each game, he’s got a great mindset – he doesn’t let adversity get in his way, which is hard to do sometimes. I just got a great deal of respect for him and how he’s gone about his business. Again, I think Philadelphia has done a great job of surrounding him with a great nucleus of players, a sound coaching staff. I think that helps, but you ultimately give credit to those players. … The things that he’s done this year, he should be at the top of the list of the MVP discussion.”

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