Thu, 26 May 2022

Jalen Hurts: 'The climb to the top starts now'

Philadelphia Eagles
18 Jan 2022, 18:12 GMT+10

by Jillian Oddo & Chris McPherson

Over the past 24 hours, several Eagles met the media for one last time to recap the productive 2021 season before previewing the offseason. Here's what some of the offensive players had to say:

Jalen Hurts: 'The climb to the top starts now'

In his first full season as a starting NFL quarterback, Jalen Hurts threw for 3,144 yards, led the team with 784 rushing yards, and accounted for 26 total touchdowns, including 10 rushing scores, the most by a quarterback in franchise history.

Hurts went 5-1 as a starter in his last six regular-season games to help the Eagles reach the playoffs. On Sunday, Hurts became the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game in Eagles history at just 23 years old.

"We're excited to put that work in and to learn from this year and build on it because the crazy thing about this year is we just got better all year. We got better all year. We took steps all year," Hurts said on Monday. "I admire this football team's fight, toughness, everything we were able to overcome and put ourselves in the situation we were in."

Following the season-ending loss in Tampa Bay, Hurts stated that Year 3 for him would start on Monday and he reiterated that saying that "the climb to the top starts now."

Since his freshman season at the University of Alabama in 2016, Hurts has had a different offensive playcaller each season. Hurts embraces the chance to work in the same system two years in a row.

"I think it'll be a big thing. I think it'll be huge," Hurts said. It's something that I'm excited for, something I'm looking forward to."

Dallas Goedert fueled for the offseason

All heads turned to tight end Dallas Goedert when he became the No. 1 tight end for the Eagles. The former second-round draft pick completed his fourth year with the Eagles and this season he not only flourished as a player, but as a leader too. The Eagles know how important it is to have a talented tight end, so they signed Goedert to a four-year contract extension during the season. Goedert finished the season with a career-high 830 receiving yards, the 10th-most receiving yards by an Eagles tight end in team history, on 56 receptions. The tight end also recorded four touchdowns.

One of Goedert's best games this year came against the New York Jets, where he produced 105 yards on six catches and two touchdowns. Goedert became the first Eagle to produce multiple 25+ yard touchdowns in a single game since DeSean Jackson in 2019. In the game against Washington at Lincoln Financial Field, he caught a team-best seven passes for a career-high 135 yards, giving him 100+ yards in consecutive games.

Since taking over as the starting tight end in Week 7, Goedert ranked among the top tight ends in the league in several categories including explosive plays (10), yards per catch (15.0), receiving first downs (30), and receiving yards (614).

"The journey that this team did, the amount of stuff that we went through, we handled adversity and connected. It was a great year. It was a ton of fun. We had a great group, so anytime it ends it's tough, but it's definitely gonna fuel me for this offseason," Goedert said. "I'm ready to get back to work and just be better next year. I think we got a great, great team with a great foundation, we got some young pieces, and I'm really excited to get back to that grind."

DeVonta Smith: 'I feel like I can be a whole lot better'

First-round pick DeVonta Smith led the Eagles with a franchise rookie record 916 receiving yards to go along with a team-best 64 catches and five touchdowns in 2021. Among all rookie wide receivers, Smith finished second in yards per catch (14.3), third in receiving yards, and fourth in receptions.

Yet, Smith felt as though there was "some stuff I left out there" when recapping his rookie season with the media on Monday.

"I'm still not satisfied. I still feel I can be a whole lot better than what I was," Smith said.

Smith chose not to disclose what his personal goals were for his rookie season since he did not reach all of them from an individual standpoint, but was proud to be a part of a team that rallied to make the playoffs.

"How this team started out 2-5 and then just flipped the whole season around," Smith said of his favorite memory from the year. "I mean, when we were 2-5, I'm sure there were a lot of people who thought we weren't going to make the playoffs. I mean, we did that, so just the way that we flipped the season around, controlling our own destiny."

Jordan Mailata happy with the foundation built this season

Known for his positive energy on and off the field, tackle Jordan Mailata was always there for his teammates throughout the season. The fourth-year tackle continued to grow and assert his dominance up front. Mailata started in 14 games with two starts at right tackle and 12 starts at left tackle. The 6-foot-8, 365-pound tackle was a huge part of the Eagles' successful running game this season. The big guy is going to be around for four more years as Mailata signed a contract extension in September.

"The foundation that we built with Coach Sirianni," Mailata said of his biggest takeaway from the 2021 season. "I think he's a great, phenomenal coach. We all bought into his process, his fundamentals, and his root analogy that everybody ripped him. We trusted in him and invested in ourselves. We got to the playoffs. I think my biggest takeaway probably is everything we built with such a young team. This is only the beginning. When I look back at this film, learn from it, make the corrections, and carry that chip on my shoulder for next year."

Landon Dickerson praises veteran role models for rookie transition

In a matter of 13 months, Landon Dickerson overcame a season-ending knee injury, was drafted in the second round by the Eagles, took over as a starter early in his rookie season, and helped the Eagles set a franchise rushing record while earning a playoff spot.

Whew!

Dickerson doesn't want it to end.

"I feel pretty good. Physically, I'm not ready to stop playing, nor mentally. We devote our lives to this because we love this and anytime it's over, I'm sure your body's probably happy, but I'd do this every day until I couldn't anymore physically," Dickerson said. "I mean, I love this sport. I love this team. I love what I do. I'd love to keep playing for four more weeks if I could, so any rest is obviously appreciated, but it's not necessarily wanted."

Dickerson started one game at right guard in between All-Pros Lane Johnson at tackle and Jason Kelce at center, and 12 games at left guard. Dickerson credited the veterans for helping show him the standard of what it takes to be an elite NFL player.

"It's been a tremendous honor to play with both of these guys. I can't tell you how thankful I am to have been able to play beside them and be in meetings with them and learn from them," Dickerson said. "They're extremely great football players. They're even better human beings when it comes to how they treat people and they go about their lives."

After a promising rookie campaign, Dickerson not only wants to get back to work, but already has a laundry list of objectives for 2022.

"There's a whole list of things that come to mind, whether it's footwork, changing direction, flexibility, explosiveness, speed, power, strength, vision, reading defenses," Dickerson said. "I mean, there's a lot of things I'd like to improve on."

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