Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Geno Smith silence critics

Oct 30, 2022, 3:00 PM | Updated: Oct 31, 2022, 3:03 am
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts celebrates after their victory over the Pittsburgh Stee...

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts celebrates after their victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers during an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Philadelphia. The Eagles defeated the Eagles 35-13. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

(AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

              Tua Tagovailoa lanza por Dolphins de Miami ante Lions, en Detroit, el domingo 30 de octubre de 2022. (AP Foto/Paul Sancya)
              Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Detroit. The Dolphins won 31-27. (AP Photo/Lon Horwedel)
              Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts celebrates after their victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers during an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Philadelphia. The Eagles defeated the Eagles 35-13. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
              Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) signals toward teammates during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Seattle, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
              Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) passes during the first half of an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa shouldn’t hear about their teams pursuing other quarterbacks anymore.

The former Alabama teammates continued their MVP-caliber seasons with spectacular performances Sunday. They’ve silenced critics who questioned their ability to be franchise quarterbacks and are setting themselves up for huge contract extensions in the offseason.

Geno Smith is another QB who has proved people wrong this season. A full-time starter for the first time since 2014, the 32-year-old Smith has the surprising Seahawks (5-3) leading the NFC West.

Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles are off to a 7-0 start following a 35-13 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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

Hurts threw four touchdown passes of 25-plus yards against the Steelers, including three to A.J. Brown in the first half. He has 1,514 yards passing and 10 TDs with only two interceptions. Hurts also has run for 293 yards and three scores.

The biggest question mark surrounding the Eagles entering the season centered on Hurts. They made the playoffs last year mainly because they had the best rushing offense in the NFL with Hurts leading the way. They were blown out by the Buccaneers in a wild-card game and knew they needed to improve their passing attack to compete for a championship.

The team considered trading for a quarterback in an offseason that saw Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and several other big-name QBs switch uniforms. But Philly stuck with Hurts for another season and the third-year pro has been outstanding.

He still hasn’t even reached his potential.

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

Hurts is also a bargain. A second-round pick in 2020 who replaced Carson Wentz as the starter late in that season, Hurts is making $1.6 million. A total of 53 QBs make 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 is or anything like that,” Sirianni said.

Just don’t ask Hurts to talk about himself.

“People don’t see the work that’s put in, not just by me individually but. … by everybody,” Hurts said. “It takes work. It’s a grind. The beautiful thing about this team is that we’ve grinded together.”

Hurts led Alabama to the national championship game as a true freshman in 2016 only to lose to Clemson. He took them back to the national title game against Georgia the following season but was benched at halftime and watched Tagovailoa lead a comeback win. Hurts transferred to Oklahoma for his senior season and finished runnerup to Joe Burrow for the Heisman Trophy.

Now, he’s the man in Philly.

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

The Dolphins pursued Watson before the 2021 trade deadline and were penalized for tampering with Tom Brady after the season. Left with Tagovailoa, they surrounded him with more talent, acquiring star receiver Tyreek Hill in a blockbuster trade to team with Jaylen Waddle.

Hill has been dynamic, helping Tagovailoa take his game to another level. Despite battling injuries and a concussion, Tagovailoa has 1,678 yards passing, 12 TDs, only three picks and a passer rating of 112.7.

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

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

Like Hurts, he’s not satisfied.

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

Smith tossed two TD passes and played another error-free game for Seattle in a 27-13 win over the New York Giants.

Playing for his fourth team, Smith was considered a placeholder for the rebuilding Seahawks until the team finds a franchise QB. So far, he’s outplayed the superstar he replaced — Wilson — and has resurrected his career after starting only five game in the previous six seasons.

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

“He’s the real deal,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “There’s no mystery 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 you week in and week out, throw after throw after throw. There’s nothing for us to hold him but in the highest of expectations really. What a thrilling story for the kid. He just hung in there so tough and outlasted it, and now he’s enjoying all the fun of it. He did great.”


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


More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, drives to the rim as Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongw...
Associated Press

Nuggets beat Hawks 128-108, tie Boston for NBA’s best record

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored a season-high 41 points, Nikola Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets won their third straight game, beating the Atlanta Hawks 128-108 on Saturday night. Jokic finished with 14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists and recorded the 94th regular-season triple-double of his career. […]
23 hours ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors gu...
Associated Press

Curry injures left leg leading Warriors over Mavs 119-113

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry went down and the Golden Warriors once again had to fight like crazy to close out a game. Curry had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds before injuring his left leg defending a drive late in the third quarter, and the defending NBA champions defeated Dallas 119-113 on […]
23 hours ago
Fedor Emelianenko, rights, listens to interpreter Georgiy Litvinov during an interview in Los Angel...
Associated Press

Fedor Emelianenko loses to Bader in Russian star’s last bout

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Fedor Emelianenko placed his gloves on the canvas and then cracked a warm smile while nearly a dozen mixed martial arts greats behind him led the crowd in one last ovation. Although the Last Emperor says his career is over, his fans and fellow fighters won’t forget his greatness any time […]
23 hours ago
Miami Heat's Dewayne Dedmon (21) looks to shoot against Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo duri...
Associated Press

Antetokounmpo has triple-double; Bucks win 7th straight

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double with 35 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the short-handed Miami Heat 123-115 on Saturday night for their seventh straight victory. “You kind of know what to expect from the Miami team,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve played them so many times. I’ve played […]
23 hours ago
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots in front of Houston Rockets forward ...
Associated Press

Gilgeous-Alexander scores 42 as Thunder blow out Rockets

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder took what coach Mark Daigneault called a “bloodthirsty mentality” into Saturday’s rematch with the Houston Rockets. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 42 points to help the Thunder blow out Houston 153-121. They were disappointed in losing at Houston on Wednesday and responded by setting an Oklahoma City record for […]
23 hours ago
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, left, disputes a penalty called against him during the first half ...
Associated Press

Zach LaVine scores 36 as Bulls beat Trail Blazers 129-121

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls tried all sorts of defensive coverages on Damian Lillard. He kept scoring anyway. Just not enough to hold down Zach LaVine and company. LaVine scored 36 points, DeMar DeRozan had 27 and the Bulls topped Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers 129-121 on Saturday night. Nikola Vucevic added 23 […]
23 hours ago
Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Geno Smith silence critics