On the third snap of the game on Sunday night against Green Bay, quarterback Jalen Hurts faced a third-and-10 situation and, in this instance, a bit of pass-rush pressure from the Packers. It was clear that Green Bay wanted to force Hurts to feel the heat as they brought extra players hoping the third-year Eagles quarterback would make a mistake.
Instead, Hurts scanned the field. And as he looked at his receivers, he noticed a gap open in the pass rush. An instant later, Hurts was dancing in the middle of the field on the way to a 24-yard gain.
"Those plays that he makes off schedule, those are bonuses," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said after the 40-33 victory in which Hurts gained 157 yards on the ground, an Eagles record for a quarterback, breaking the mark set by Michael Vick against the Giants in December, 2010. "You still have your plan that you want to get to and you want to do. It just kind of happened that he had some big yards off schedule. That's what Jalen does. That's where he's really special is that he can make those plays with his feet."
Hurts did all of that damage with his legs on 17 carries, but he was just as lethal with his right arm, completing 16 of 28 passes for 153 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Eagles raised their record to 10-1 and Hurts became the third quarterback in NFL history – joining Vick and Baltimore's Lamar Jackson – to run for 150-plus yards and throw for 150-plus yards in the same game and the first to do so while throwing a pair of touchdown passes.
For his efforts, Hurts was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week, the league announced on Wednesday morning. It was the second NFC honor for Hurts, who was also named the conference's Player of the Month in September. This is, however, the first weekly award of his career.
Hurts joined a long list of Eagles weekly winners in the NFC honors department: Special teams: CB Zech McPhearson (Week 1 at Lions), PK Cameron Dicker (Week 5 at Cardinals); Defensive: CB Darius Slay (Week 2 vs. Vikings), DE Brandon Graham (Week 3 at Washington), LB Haason Reddick (Week 4 vs. Jaguars).
An MVP-caliber season continues for No. 1 ...
The growth that he's made – every week, we talk about it. Hurts has the maturity and the poise every quarterback desires and, in his second season in the same system for the first time since high school, has made a huge difference. Hurts and Sirianni, along with Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen and Quarterbacks Coach Brian Johnson, have a healthy back-and-forth dialogue during the week and in game situations discussing what is working and what direction the next series offensively could go.
And then Hurts goes out and does it. He's thrown 17 passes and just 3 interceptions, completing 67 percent of his passes for 2,560 yards while averaging 8.1 yards per pass attempt. When Hurts has taken off and run the football – whether it's been a designed one or one off schedule – he has gained another 597 yards with 8 touchdowns.
"I just think that's the next step he's taking," Sirianni said on Sunday night. "He is being able to tell us on the field what he's seeing, what he likes, and go out and execute and us trusting him, because he's got a lot of money in the bank with us, right, of like, hey, every time he comes out and tells us that he makes it work when he does it.
"I think that's a big part of the decision-making and the big next step of the decision-making. But, yeah, he had a special game tonight. Really special game tonight."
Said Steichen on Tuesday at his weekly press conference about the input Hurts has had on the direction the Eagles are taking from one series to the next: "Yeah, it's awesome. So obviously after a sequence of plays, I'll go look at the Surface (tablet) real quick and then I get my thoughts together on the next drive of what we're thinking. Then I'll go to Jalen and Jalen will be talking with Brian during those situations, and then boom, we'll go over and he's like, 'Hey, this looks good here. We can get to this, this would be awesome.' Obviously if I see it on the Surface as well, I'm like, 'Heck yeah, let's do it.' So, he's doing a nice job with that."
Another challenge arrives on Sunday with Tennessee and the Titans' outstanding defense coming to town. The Titans are tough, they are talented, and they play hard and disciplined. Their first goal will be to limit Hurts – in every way possible.
The Eagles will try to find weaknesses in what the Titans are doing and attack and have success, as they've had all season and as they certainly had on Sunday night when the offense rolled to 500 total net yards.
"I think you have to go out there and respond to what they're giving you. You have to be able to see what they're giving you and react to it accordingly and appropriately. I feel like we were able to do that the majority of the time today. There were some unique things that they did and I think we tried to overcome them which we did," Hurts said after the game. "In the end, can we control the things that we can control? That's one of them. How we respond to the ball security situation, which is another. It's the little details, it's everybody, it's myself, and it's everybody."