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Jalen Hurts returns to his hometown on top of his game

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

He has done it in a variety of ways this season, so nothing that quarterback Jalen Hurts does should surprise anyone at this point in a career with a trajectory and a ceiling that continues to climb. But as we take a step back here to appreciate the seven games Hurts has had in 2022 – with Game No. 8 just a large handful of hours away – a deeper dive into some of the numbers Hurts has compiled put his performance into a greater context.

Hurts plays in his hometown on Thursday night and it means something – something very significant.

"Going back to Houston, it should be fun," Hurts said on Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex. "It's always been a dream of mine to play in NRG-Reliant Stadium and I've spent a lot of time in that city – my childhood, growing up in Houston, going to watch the Texans play, being in the Texans' facility as a kid. Going to watch high school football playoffs in that stadium but not having the opportunity to ever play in it. I will have an opportunity this week and I'm looking forward to playing. It will be fun."

So, about those statistics. They are impressive and important, a prime reason the Eagles are 7-0.

Stat 1: Hurts averages 300.3 yards per game and has accounted for 16 total TDs

His yards per game ranks fourth in the NFL and the total touchdowns – passing (10) and rushing (6) – rank fifth. That puts Hurts in the company of Buffalo's Josh Allen, Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, and Cincinnati's Joe Burrow. That's the elite company in the league in 2022.

Hurts is producing game in and game out, and that's what he spoke about in the preseason, about how he wanted to have more consistency in his game and, if he were able to attain that, he would become an elite quarterback. That's what he said his individual goal was for the season and here we are.

We know it and defenses know it: Hurts is what makes the Eagles' offense go. It all starts with him. For sure, it helps that the Eagles have a terrific offensive line, outstanding pass catchers, and a running game that is as good as any in the NFL. With his decision-making and overall game-by-game improvement, Hurts is the complete package.

Stat 2: Just 2 turnovers in 7 games

Let's put this into perspective: Since 1940, only two NFL teams have had two-or-fewer turnovers in the opening seven games – the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs and the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles. We are talking about more than eight decades of football here, so this is remarkable.

And it all stems from Hurts. He is the one that handles the football on every play. He is the one who has to make split-second decisions. And he is the one who has to make sure ball security is at a premium.

Check out the action as the Eagles host the Steelers in a battle for Pennsylvania bragging rights at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles have never lost at home to the Steelers in the Super Bowl era. Will the streak continue?

Stat 3: Hurts is averaging 8.5 yards per passing attempt

In Sunday's win over Pittsburgh, Hurts tossed four touchdown passes of 25-plus yards as the offense continued to gash defenses with big plays in the passing game. That is a full yard – and then some – more than he averaged last season. Hurts has improved his down-the-field accuracy and it has paid off. Having both DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown as his primary wide receivers helps because both have made spectacular catches this season.

"Anytime you have an elite receiver like A.J., there is a lot of trust with him and Jalen to go up and make a play," Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen said. "He is so big and strong and powerful at the point of attack, and when he goes up, you know he's going to probably come down with it."

The Eagles are winning in a lot of ways – they can run the ball down a defense's throat – they can spread the ball around with a short passing game and they can get chunk yards in a hurry. Having that explosive element in the passing game truly stresses defenses.

Stat 4: Hurts has won 10 straight regular-season games

In fact, dating back to Week 8 of the 2021 season, Hurts is 13-2 – the highest winning percentage in the league since that time – and his 10 wins in a row is the longest current streak in the NFL and the longest streak in franchise history. Just win. That's the name of the game.

"That's what we're here for. That's all that matters and it doesn't matter how you get it done," Hurts said. "We have a like-minded team here and our purpose is to go 1-0 each and every week."

When you don't turn the ball over and you instead produce touchdowns and big plays and make great decisions, you're going to win a lot of games. He has been a winner everywhere he's been in high school, college, and now the NFL. This isn't a surprise.

Stat 5: Hurts' completion percentage is 67, well above his career average

This hasn't been a dink-and-dunk offense, so the improved completion percentage really is significant. Hurts completed 52 percent of his passes as a rookie and 61.3 percent of his passes in 2021, so the jump to 67 percent means something. He's getting the ball out faster and he's been more accurate with improved timing. These are all the important steps he has taken in his second season in the scheme with the same playcaller/offensive coordinator since his high school days.

Year 2 with Nick Sirianni and Steichen has meant a lot.

"I'm comfortable with everything we're doing. I understand everything," he said. "The more you know something, the better you're going to be."

Stat 6: Hurts has a passer rating of 105.1

Six stats, and this one puts it all together in terms of the performance throwing the football: Hurts has 10 touchdown passes, two interceptions, has gotten explosive plays, and has compiled a brilliant passer rating of 105.1, fifth-highest in the league. What kind of jump is that from previous seasons? As a rookie, Hurts had a rating of 77.6 and last year that jumped to 87.2.

This year, it's a quantum leap. The next step in his progression was to come as a passer from the pocket. Well, the Eagles have used Hurts as a passer in a variety of ways and he has responded beautifully.

The next test is home for Hurts. He'll look to again put it all together – to be in a "zone," as he called it after Sunday's win – in his hometown in front of his family and friends against a franchise for whom he rooted as a kid.

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