Eagles

No denying the spark Jalen Hurts gave Eagles’ offense in win over Saints

Eagles

For whatever reason on Sunday evening, Doug Pederson refused to confirm that Jalen Hurts will make his second-career start next week in Arizona.

He didn’t really need to, though, did he?

Because we all have eyes.

We all saw that Hurts, for the second straight week, gave the Eagles an undeniable spark. No, we’re not ready to put Hurts in Canton or even name him the long-term franchise starter. After all, this was just one game. But it was a good game. After four straight losses, Hurts led the Eagles to a win over the NFL’s top defense and one of the best overall teams in the conference. As Pederson reminded everyone about a thousand times, Hurts didn’t do it on his own. But he definitely played a major role in the 24-21 win.

Of course Hurts is going to start next week.

“He played awesome today,” Miles Sanders said. “The tape shows for itself. He’s so confident and he’s a natural leader. We just needed that and he gave us that spark to start from last week.”

The final numbers weren’t earth-shattering for Hurts. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. But he also ran for 106 yards on 18 carries, including a few kneel-downs at the end.

Overall, Hurts accounted for 273 of 413 of the Eagles’ offensive yards. That’s a pretty good day.

And on Sunday, it seemed like Hurts just raised the level of play for everyone around him. The offensive line played better, the receivers made plays, Miles Sanders was dynamic, even Pederson called a better game. Maybe it would be unfair to Carson Wentz if we simply credit Hurts for the success of others, but it just seems undeniable.

 

While Pederson was reserved in his praise for Hurts, Saints head coach Sean Payton was not.

“I felt like he played well. He played exceptionally well,” Payton said. “He hurt us. We’ll take a look at the tape. Obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job of slowing [his run game] down. When a team rushes for 250 yards, not a lot of good can happen. I’ll say this – he was impressive just watching him. I thought he played with poise, made some throws, and was smart. He did a good job.”

Hurts on Sunday became just the fifth Eagles quarterback in franchise history to rush for 100 yards and the first since Mike Vick did it back in 2010.

And Hurts’ 106 rushing yards is the second-highest total ever for a QB in his first start behind Lamar Jackson’s 119-yard performance in his first NFL start back in 2018.

Hurts rushed for seven first downs on Sunday.

“I think it’s obvious that his ability to run and not only put stress on us as a defense in the run game but also in the pass game,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “His ability to scramble just adds another element. You need all 11 to be able to stop the run. So they did a great job, obviously giving him opportunities for looks, good runs, the passes, being able to take care of the football, not really putting him in harm’s way, and he executed. Hats off to him.”

While Hurts didn’t put up huge numbers in the passing game, he did what he needed to. His second-quarter touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery was delivered on fourth down as Hurts was absolutely crushed by Kwon Alexander.

He was able to stand there and deliver in the face of pressure. That’s an impressive play for anyone, let alone a rookie making his first NFL start.

“Ah man, you guys saw, he looked good,” Jalen Reagor said. “He is a fearless guy, just like myself. He is a winner. He knows how to play and I am proud of him. I am proud for him and I am happy to see where he goes.”

We all know what’s next for Hurts. He’ll be the starter in Arizona next week. He’s earned that at least.

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