Eytan Shander: Let’s give thanks… for Jalen Hurts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We all sit down and dedicate a day — or week — to remind the world how grateful we are for so many things we take for granted every other day.

Or maybe it’s just the opposite. Perhaps it magnifies the good even more than it currently is in our lives. We are grateful for the people who support us, our success is a constant ‘thank you’ to them, but we can dedicate this day – this turkey day – to that special someone. Of course, the influence or positive impact is constant – especially the more impact that person can have in our lives. Sometimes it is even a stranger; someone you’ve never met, but who still gives you a positive light.

Today I dedicate the inaugural “Turkey Day of Giving Thanks” award to Jalen Hurts. You deserve it boy and keep shining like a diamond.

I am grateful for many things in Philadelphia sports, such as having Bryce Harper as MVP in the Phillies. His ability to speak as a member of the front office when making moves or adding players, which I wholeheartedly support. But after that it gets a little less. The team couldn’t build around him at the start of this long deal and it’s hard to imagine he’ll be playing this well in five years. But I’m beyond grateful that Harper is here and how much fun he is to watch.

The Flyers and Chuck Fletcher have done a really positive job this off-season and seem to have built a nice team that will compete in the playoffs. This, of course, comes amid a 3 match slip with the team losing some ground in the standings. They continue to deal with injuries and it helps reduce the team’s long-term care. They give the feeling that they are definitely going in the right direction and rise when they are completely healthy. There is hope in the air and a plan on the ground. That’s all we ask and I’m thankful for that here, but it won’t dominate my day.

Not like Hurts.

I’m grateful that the Sixers have someone who can do some important things in a winning team. Tyrese Maxey is blooming. He is one of the best young point guards in the NBA and has made many people forget about Ben Simmons – on offense. Maxey is a gifted goalscorer and is constantly on the floor despite other starters dropping out left and right. I’m grateful to Joel Embiid, etc etc etc but it’s hard to see what the future holds. We have another year where it will hold our breath until he returns to the team. Finally, a preemptive thank you to Daryl Morey for sending Simmons out of here.

No, none of these things match what really drives us in this city. They’re great consolation prizes or secondary conversations about turkey and lasagna. But only after the Eagles, and only after Hurts. Today I’ll be that 13-year-old fan who gets up at the Thanksgiving dinner table to thank Hurts and the Eagles — not to my parents, or teacher, or coach, or girlfriend.

Giving the fans their first chance to cheer on the home side after a win was a huge step in this season. Beating a defeated Saints team wasn’t as important as the win itself. For four weeks this season, fans left the stadium upset and bitter. It fueled the negative conversations that permeated this city. It caused more divisiveness than your favorite social media app, without the dog memes to balance your anger. Technically, there were “dog” phrases, just no memes.

The way the Eagles won — the way Hurts played for the fans — was everything. Fans have seen Hurts do something that has never been done before by an Eagles quarterback in franchise history. This was no fluke, it wasn’t a footnote in the books, it was a durable weapon that can be deployed every week. Hurts set a team on fire with his feet and New Orleans never caught up. There’s no reason to believe that the Eagles can’t put pressure on every team they face, regardless of record or defensive position.

I am grateful that the recipe is here and that the cook – Nick Sirianni – is following the plan. It’s as simple as taking an early lead and then asking your offensive linemen to physically dominate their opponent. The holes are opening and several backs have been able to take full advantage. The backs have it exponentially easier if they don’t make their first move to dodge a defensive lineman. The offensive linemen have it easier when they do blocking as opposed to pass blocking – especially for backup. Once the Eagles are up – which they have done over bad teams – they run downhill and down.

We wanted this earlier in the season; it’s just that they couldn’t get into much better teams. They’re still not a top team, but the Eagles aren’t a bottom team either. That was something we weren’t sure about at the start of the season. It is now clear that we see a team emerging. No one knows how high the team can get, or whether it’s worth losing status in the draft for the 7th playoff spot.

What we do know is this: Hurts played himself in the starting quarterback role moving forward with his electric game. He has the skills to succeed in the NFL, and if you’re concerned that he isn’t throwing enough—or not good enough at those pitches—look at the people around him. Not so much the players – who will get better – but the people who make him grow as a talent. He’s not Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen or Russell Wilson or Tom Brady. But he’s not Carson Wentz either, and he’s not surrounded by reports of constant problems with teammates. Hurts wants to get better and there is no indication that he does not want to start coaching.

That’s a lot to be thankful for, now pass on the filling.


Under 41.5 CHI / DET

I think a lot of people need a reason to watch this football game, so why not make your time worth it? This total opened at 44.5 and I broke the under as soon as Jared Goff was banned from last week’s game. The Lions are an absolute mess, but their defense plays a little better. That’s essential as the Bears are a mess too – even though they may have more talent in the QB position with Andy Dalton over an injured Justin Fields. People forget that even though Thanksgiving football is a great creation, it’s still a short week. Fouls usually struggle during these shorter weeks, and if you don’t have a foul like neither team does, it’s just easier to pound the under. The total has already moved up three full points, so now jump through while it is still above the key number of 41.

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