Trailing Georgia 13-0 in the 2017 BCS National Championship Game, Nick Saban decided to replace Jalen Hurts with phenom Tua Tagovailoa. Sure enough, Alabama ended up coming from behind to take the BCS Trophy in a stunning 26-23 overtime win. And the rest is history…
Tua Tagovailoa became the permanent starter moving forward. Jalen Hurts transferred to Oklahoma. We saw the two have their fair share of individual success. Furthermore, the two faced off in the 2018 Orange Bowl, where Jalen Hurts and Oklahoma fell to his predecessor. While Tua ended up leading Alabama to a number one ranking and a National Championship berth, Bama ended up losing to Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers. To cap it off, each player ended up finishing second in the Heisman Trophy vote (Tua in 2018, Hurts in 2019). The competition was fairly neck and neck to see who would ultimately come out on top – but the hype-train consensus would sway towards Tagovailoa.
Ultimately, this was proven as the 2020 NFL Draft ensued, and we found Tua as one of the top prospects, and Jalen Hurts totally out of the conversation. Sure enough, we saw the Dolphins select Tagovailoa at number 5 overall. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts slid out of the first round, and all the way to number 53. Hurts was seen as a backup, a project. That is, until Lamar Jackson took the scene, winning the NFL MVP in 2019. Thus, the entire narrative towards running Quarterbacks was changed.
With that, we saw a struggling Eagles team take a chance on Hurts. And it paid off. They found themselves in the playoffs in 2021. Whereas Tua and the Dolphins struggled even worse. That is until they paired Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill this past offseason, and the results showed. Big time.
Here we are, at the beginning of the 2022 season, watching as the two former Alabama Quarterbacks find themselves in another competition – who turned out better? There’s Tua throwing for nearly 500 yards and leading his team to 2-0. All the while Jalen Hurts runs and passes his squad to a 2-0 record as well. So, who is better? If Nick Saban had access to a crystal ball – who should he have picked?
Let’s look at the side-by-side:
Jalen Hurts: 360 of his 612 tries for 4,448 yds, 23 TDs. 1285 Rushing Yards, 16 Rush TDs.
Overall Record: 14-17-1
Tua Tagovailoa: 472 of 711 tries for 4,737 yards, 34 TDs, 238 Rushing Yards, 6 Rush TDs.
Overall Record: 17-8
Considering that both Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa had equally poor rosters and receiving talent around them, we can call this playing field even. Jalen Hurts only has about 300 fewer passing yards on 100 fewer attempts – it’s fair to assume that Hurts would win that category if the number of passes was even. Then, you factor in the rushing yards – which, is quite significant in today’s NFL – Hurts also wins by a landslide. So what does Tua have on his side? 11 more passing TDs, and a much higher win percentage. It’s funny, how Tua, yet again, appears as the winner. History seems to repeat itself as Tua ended up winning the BCS Championship, and here is in the pros – also winning more games.
However, when you look at both of these team’s rosters, it’s evident that they’ve undergone significant upgrades. Cough, cough – Tyreek Hill and AJ Brown. Jalen Waddle and Devonta Smith. And, with more experience under their belts, it’s clear why they’re 2-0, and QBs of the future. However, Tua has been on the hot seat up until these past two weeks. I would argue that the verdict is still out until the end of this year. To me, the deciding factor is if Tua can lead the Dolphins to the playoffs. If he doesn’t and Hurts wins the NFC East – Jalen Hurts will win the battle… for now.
But, this competition will likely continue for the foreseeable future, as these two young gunslingers appear to be their respective franchise QBs. And I’m all for it. It’s a narrative that likely won’t be brought up until these two face one another in the pros – but a personal favorite of mine. And, for the record, if I had to choose, I’d take Jalen Hurts. The guy has consistently battled through adversity and nay-sayers – including Nick Saban. If I had a time machine and go back and put myself in Saban’s shoes – I’d stick with Hurts. But, we’ll see what happens between these two guys who once shared a QB room…
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