Doug Pederson had a front-row seat for the beginning of Jalen Hurts' NFL career, and he's not surprised to see the Oklahoma and Alabama product thriving in his third professional season.
The former Eagles coach returns to Philadelphia this weekend, where he once made the call to replace Carson Wentz with Hurts in 2020. This time, though, Pederson's Jaguars staff will be focused on limiting Hurts. He knows it will be a challenge, because Hurts has already made a career out of exceeding expectations.
"He's going to defy all odds," Pederson said Wednesday, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. "That's just the way his career has been built. He's overcome adversity everywhere he's been, at Alabama and Oklahoma.
"Just not surprised. Not surprised that he's playing this well and he's playing and really utilizing the guys around him to help him get these wins that they're piling up."
Hurts is off to a fantastic start, ranking in the top 10 in completion percentage, passing yards per game, touchdown-to-interception ratio, passer rating and win-loss record. Hurts' passer rating of 106.5 ranks behind only Lamar Jackson, Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.
Right behind him is Pederson's new quarterback, Jacksonville's Trevor Lawrence.
The results stand as a revelation for Eagles fans, who knew Hurts could change a game with his running abilities, but had yet to be convinced he could be a premier passer. Thanks in part to the arrival of A.J. Brown to a receiving corps that already included former Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia's offense is firing on all cylinders.
Hurts' progression is not a surprise to Pederson, who gained an understanding of the quarterback's potential and work ethic during Hurts' rookie season.
"He was the same way," Pederson said. "He was a sponge, he wants to learn, he wants to get better. He's a professional and he takes it serious. Those are the things that you want in your quarterback, out of the leader of your team. So there's no surprise that he's still doing that."
Pederson will hope his team's defense -- a top-six unit that is tied for the league lead in turnovers -- will make the going difficult for Hurts. And if the Eagles' signal-caller finds success once again, it won't shock anyone -- especially Pederson.
"It just doesn't surprise me that this is how well he's playing," Pederson said. "He's prepared himself for this."