The Falcons threw every blitz they had at Jalen Hurts, trying desperately to create a big play to turn the game around.
They created big plays, all right. Big plays from Hurts.
We talk so much about Hurts’ arm, his legs, his electrifying athletic ability that it’s easy to lose sight of just how smart he is, how prepared he is and how instinctive he is.
And we saw it Sunday in Atlanta, when snap after snap, Hurts was able to diagnose Atlanta’s pressure and beat it either by scrambling away from the rush, finding a hot receiver for a positive gain or throwing the ball away.
In the fifth start of his career, his decision making was nearly flawless.
Hurts was only sacked once in the Eagles’ 32-6 win — for just three yards — but every other time a Falcon closed in on him, he did the right thing.
“Man, I thought he did a really good job there,” Nick Sirianni said. “He did an excellent job. Jalen just was able to have these quick movements to get out of it. … He kind of showed really good instincts … and good feel.”
For the most part, the Eagles’ backs did a good job picking up the blitz. When a blitzer did get through, Hurts sniffed it out.
“Like, ‘I see the structure of the defense, I'm not really looking at it, but I'm feeling it.’ And so he got us out of a couple binds that we made a couple mistakes on,” Sirianni said.
“I really thought he handled that well, how he handled the blitz. I thought he did a really good job of running it when he was supposed to and throwing it when the defense allowed.”
You could see the Falcons growing frustrated as the game went on as Hurts repeatedly beat the pressure.
“I feel like we got some good pressure on him but just didn’t get him down,” Falcons two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said after the game. “He definitely is very, very impressive with evading defenders and making throws on the run. And he’s a very, very strong guy.”
You couldn’t help but see tremendous growth in Hurts Sunday in several key areas.
After throwing four interceptions, fumbling nine times and taking 13 sacks in about a quarter of a season last year, he didn’t fumble or throw an interception Sunday and he was only sacked the one time.
It became clear as the game went on Sunday that what was effective against Hurts last year isn’t going to work on him this year. At least in Week 1.
There wasn’t one snap where you felt like he threw when he should have run or he ran when he should have thrown.
He was poised and in control. And the more the Falcons came after him, the more he made them regret it.
“(We want him to) be that passer first and then go and run,” Sirianni said. “So yeah, I was really pleased with how he handled the pressures. And they brought a lot of different things at us.”