Are the Eagles any closer to knowing what they have in quarterback Jalen Hurts?

PHILADELPHIA -- This Philadelphia Eagles season is being largely viewed as a tryout for quarterback Jalen Hurts to win the job long term.

Philadelphia is projected to have three picks in the top 10 of the 2022 NFL draft. Those assets can be used in one of two ways: to pursue the quarterback of the future, or build around the one in place.

With six games in the books, 35% of the evidence is in. Are the Eagles any closer to understanding whether Hurts is the guy?

Let's take a look.

A roller-coaster ride

Hurts' numbers are up overall compared to his rookie season. He's completing 62.5% of his passes with eight touchdowns and four interceptions, compared with a 52% completion rate in four starts as a rookie with six TDs and four picks. His air-yards per attempt are virtually identical at a tick over 7 yards per throw. He also has 300 rushing yards and has run for five TDs, which is tied for the most among QBs.

On the whole, those numbers are solid. It's when you break it down game by game that issues emerge.

It's been a season of extremes for Hurts to date. In games against the Falcons, Chiefs and Cowboys, Hurts completed a combined 69% of his throws with seven touchdowns versus two interceptions. But in the Eagles' other three games, against the 49ers, Panthers and Bucs, he completed 53% of his throws with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Coach Nick Sirianni said he values four things in a quarterback: decision-making, accuracy, ability to create and leadership. Hurts has the last two items nailed. He can make something out of nothing on the field, and at 23 years old is a team captain and one of the most influential voices in the locker room.

But as the large spikes and dips in his completion rate illustrate, repetitive accuracy has been a problem. And his quality of decision-making has fluctuated, particularly as it applies to when to stay in the pocket and when to escape and improvise.

"That's what we're talking about with we want to be able to make some plays in the pocket, and there are too many of those [unscripted plays]," Sirianni said. "We want to get into that 35, 40% area of unscripted plays. I'm definitely thinking [against the Bucs Thursday] we were higher than that, and that's got to change."

Hurts has come up short on a number of his deep balls -- he's completed 11.5% of his throws that have traveled 20-plus yards, which ranks 17th in the NFL -- and rarely uses the middle of the field. The 6-foot-1 Hurts has thrown 3% (6 of 208) of his pass attempts between the hashes, the lowest rate of any QB this season (minimum 50 attempts), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Is Hurts getting the help he needs?

Sirianni hasn't done Hurts many favors with his playcalling. Entering Week 6, Hurts had accounted for 87% of the Eagles' offense by yardage, the highest of any team in the NFL. It was the same story against Tampa, as Eagles running backs received just one carry in the first half and nine total for the game.

Sirianni's run-pass option (RPO) offense is designed with Hurts' dual-threat skill set in mind, but defenses have quickly figured out how to shut down the bubble screens and disrupt the Eagles' zone-read game.

"I feel like [the Buccaneers] came out there and knew what we were doing right away," said left tackle Jordan Mailata. "We just had to adapt -- and it took us a little bit of time to adapt -- but like I said, they do their homework, too. Just like we do. We have to learn to adapt and we have to learn to adapt faster.”

In the past two weeks in particular, it was well into the second half when Sirianni and his staff made the adjustments to get the offense on track. Hurts is not the only green member of the team. Sirianni is a first-year head coach and playcaller and it shows at times. The primary receivers are all 23 years old or younger. With all the injuries to the offensive line, center Jason Kelce has been the only experienced member in the bunch of late. It's all impacting Hurts' production.

What's the bottom line?

Opinions were mixed about Hurts coming out of college, including inside the Eagles' organization. Based off his film from Alabama and Oklahoma, there were questions about his willingness to stay in the pocket and go through his progressions, as well as whether he could be a consistently accurate passer.

Those who were higher on him loved the intangibles he brought to the table. Put together his leadership skills and work ethic with his undeniable talents, and there's a real chance Hurts could develop into a good NFL player, the thinking went.

Both sides still have a case.

Hurts hasn't been a consistent thrower. He does abandon the structure of the play too early at times.

But he's only started 10 games in the NFL, and has shown improvement in most areas of concern. Hurts has proved to have a growth mindset. He is obsessed with getting better for the sake of his team, and isn't above the coaching or work it takes to make it happen. His teammates legitimately want to follow him.

The remaining 11 regular-season games will be informative to a degree, but the most reasonable thing to expect is more highs and lows from Hurts as he, Sirianni and his young supporting cast continue to learn and take their lumps. It will most likely leave an incomplete picture in the evaluation of Hurts, as much as management and Eagles fans alike wish otherwise.

It's too early to fully judge Hurts now and it will still be too early to fully judge him at the end of the season. The Eagles will have to make a franchise-altering decision regarding his fate anyway come the winter. That's life in the NFL, where time is kept on an accelerated clock and patience is a relic.