Eagles’ Jalen Hurts building ‘new chemistry’ with receiver A.J. Brown

Jalen & ajBROWN


The two Eagles stars have been friends since their teenage years, but the quarterback says, “we just want to continue to grow” in their connection on the field.

Jalen Hurts would rather keep his iPhone’s lock screen, along with any motivation he may draw from it, to himself.  A few days after a social media post from one of his teammates revealed Hurts’ wallpaper is a picture of him leaving the sideline at State Farm Stadium surrounded by red-and-yellow confetti moments after the Super Bowl LVII loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles quarterback said he wished the outside world hadn’t seen it.

“I’d rather not talk about that,” Hurts said Thursday. “I don’t think it’s really appropriate considering, if it were up to me, y’all wouldn’t know about it, no one would know about it, so I’ll leave it at that.”  The picture of Hurts surrounded in the aftermath of the 38-35 loss, private or otherwise, seems to be having the intended effect for the quarterback a week into training camp. The Eagles quarterback, coming off an MVP-caliber season, is seemingly on a mission to pick up where he left off last year after a string of impressive practices against the Eagles defense.

aj brown autograph
Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown signs autographs for fans after training camp Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex.

“There’s a sense of urgency,” Hurts said. “As a team and I think as leaders, myself and the other leaders on the team, it’s something that we set the pace of and set the temperature of, [to] have that urgency and continue to get better.”

Even against tight coverage, Hurts has managed a handful of impressive throws to each of his primary receiving targets the last few practices, but a few connections with A.J. Brown during team sessions stand out the most. Hurts has found Brown for a handful of deep passes, including a touchdown catch from about 50 yards out after beating cornerback James Bradberry on a post pattern on Tuesday. A few plays earlier, Hurts found Brown for back-to-back completions against Bradberry, one with a back-shoulder throw near the sideline and the other on a stop route.

Brown and Hurts had a close relationship dating back to their teenage years going already, which contributed to the star receiver hitting the ground running in his first year with the team. He logged 88 catches for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and was named second-team All-Pro. Still, Hurts said the two have been working on building “new chemistry” this summer.

“He’s a physical specimen,” Hurts said. “He’s a special talent. The goal for us is to continue to grow, continue to find that new chemistry. I think for us, you talk about any time you have success, you try to leave that as the foundation, as the new standard. So we just want to continue to grow.”  Some of the success for Hurts & Co. in camp could be because of the Eagles defense going through a transition as new coordinator Sean Desai implements his scheme, with several players stepping into starting roles vacated in the offseason.

By comparison, the Eagles offense returned nine of the 11 starters from last year and, even with new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, it has continuity with Nick Sirianni’s scheme. When asked how things are different for him this year, Hurts pointed out that he’s never spent four years on the same team before.

Hurts has noted before how constantly switching offensive systems and play-callers year-to-year early in his career presented a distinct challenge. He pointed to consecutive years in the same scheme as a reason for his rapid progress last season. Going into this year, Sirianni said he has noticed Hurts’ understanding of the system take a major step, both on the field and in the meeting rooms.

“I think he’s operating at a really high level within the offense,” Sirianni said. “Just understanding more so why we do things, how we do things. He’s really like a coach on the field with things like that. Our conversations in the quarterback room, they just keep getting deeper and deeper as far as how we really are dissecting all the things that we’re doing, the things that we’re completing that we already do well.  “He’s going to reach his ceiling, whatever that is. Because of all the things that he has inside of him. I just see that continuing to show out and I see him continuing to get better. … I just see continued improvement and continued consistency with Jalen.”


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