By every measurable, the Eagles have it rolling offensively. They've won two of their last three games using a balanced offense that starts with the physicality and cohesiveness of the offensive line, a set of playmakers that has stepped up and delivered, and a coaching staff that has put together strong game plans and play calls. It looks great and it feels great and the production has been there for a team that leads the NFL with 208.7 rushing yards over the last three weeks.
It has been more than the running game, though, although the emphasis there has been a major contributing factor. Rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith has delivered as the go-to option in the passing game. Dallas Goedert, prior to his injury in Denver, has stepped in seamlessly as the TE1. Running backs Jordan Howard and Boston Scott have been durable and productive and impressive bearing the brunt of the ground-game load.
And then there is quarterback Jalen Hurts, who just made his 14th NFL start one of his best, as he continues to stack strong weeks.
"To me, it's, like, well, he's still a rookie, right? He's still in his rookie season and – essentially, if you count the amount of games started," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said on Monday at his weekly press conference at the NovaCare Complex. "And so, all I see is improvement every day from him because, again, it starts with the type of person that Jalen is and how much he loves this sport and how much he loves his teammates and how tough he is. And he doesn't make the same mistake twice. I just see his arrow completely pointed up. I think we've all seen the way he's played. The way he played yesterday, again, when we got into the second half, we kind of took the air out of it a little bit and we played a little bit different the way our defense was playing and the lead that we had.
"But if you look at that first half, the way he played, he was doing some things yesterday that were really special. The play he made to Dallas Goedert is a big-time football play and I think if you look back and you look maybe five weeks ago, I think that he probably tucks that and runs and maybe gets 10, right? And yesterday he stepped up in the pocket, he stepped up with two hands on the football – I mean, and look how good he's done taking care of the football just as far as interceptions and fumbles, right? He steps up in the pocket, he rips through, he slides in the pocket, keeps his eyes down the field, and then he delivers a strike across the middle."
In the last three weeks, Hurts has played as well as any quarterback in the league and the numbers bear that to be true. He is ...
• First among all NFL QBs with 186 rushing yards
• Second in the NFL with a 102.6 passer rating
• Third with 8.2 yards/passing attempt
• Eighth with 36 total first downs
• Tied for ninth with a 66.7 percent completion percentage
Teams that lay back on Hurts and dare him to win from the pocket are seeing him win from the pocket, as he did in the first half against Denver when Hurts completed 15 of 20 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns, adding 52 rushing yards on five carries. Teams that go after Hurts with the blitz are paying the price, Sirianni said, in a number of ways.
"What you see in the evolution of Jalen is that he's handling it in different ways and in different areas," Sirianni said on Monday in our exclusive one-on-one interview. "What you saw early on (in the season) is that he handled the blitz running it. Against Denver and the last couple of weeks, yes, he still had the run aspect of it to be able to get out of trouble, but also now he's sliding in the pocket, moving in the pocket, and delivering the ball downfield. Sometimes, handling the blitz is, like what happened a couple of times (Sunday), 'Oh, you're blitzing off this edge, I'm going to get out of this play and I'm going to go to this play.' What you're seeing as he evolves is that he's handling the blitz with his legs, his arm, and his mind. That's huge.
"That's where he's continuing to make strides and he did a really nice job of that (in Denver) and we look forward to him continuing to do a good job with that."
For the season, Hurts leads NFL quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns (5), is second with 547 rushing yards, is second with a 113.9 red zone rating, is seventh in total offense (2,594) and 106 plays of 10-plus yards, and is tied for seventh with 35 plays of 20-plus yards. His 18 offensive touchdowns rank tied for 11th among league signal-callers.
And he's made 14 NFL starts and is on his second offensive system. Keep that in mind.
"It's my job to win here and that's what is important to me," Hurts says. "I'm going to learn and grow from the good, the bad, and the ugly."
Hurts' physical skills have always been obvious, and what's maybe been overlooked is the cerebral prowess he exhibits. The Eagles wanted to get the ball to Smith prior to his sensational 36-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter and ran the same formation before the actual throw, but Hurts had to wait until Denver gave him the right look. When he saw it, Smith saw it, and the two were on the same page and magic happened.
"Throwing from the pocket, it ain't like it's something that I can't do," Hurts said after the game in Denver. "It's something I think I do very well. I'm just going to continue to work hard and progress day by day."
He doesn't brag on himself, not a bit. Hurts just keeps working and staying in lockstep with Sirianni and an offense that continues to evolve and show that it can win in a multitude of ways.
"We all believe in Jalen and how hard he works and the plays he makes back there," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "We just have to keep it going, keep putting in the work. It's a lot of fun, what we're doing now."