Jalen Hurts has improved every season we've seen him play football on a big stage.
He improved through his college career, first at Alabama (where he was usurped by Tua Tagovailoa before his junior year) and then at Oklahoma. He made strides from his first to second season in the NFL, too.
The Philadelphia Eagles built the type of team around Hurts that can compete for a division title and maybe a lot more. They needed Hurts to do his part.
Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that Hurts, with the help of a great cast around him, has improved. He was great on Monday night, throwing for more than 300 yards in a thorough 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Everyone was talking about the Vikings after they beat the Green Bay Packers in Week 1. Maybe we should have been talking more about the Eagles.
Jalen Hurts stars in win
On Monday night, Hurts got off to a phenomenal start. When he threw a 53-yard touchdown to Quez Watkins, he was 10-of-10 for 154 yards eight seconds into the second quarter. He had a rushing touchdown too, and would add another in the second quarter.
Hurts looked confident all night. He made strong throws and repeatedly made the right read. Hurts' running ability is a big part of his game and he added 57 rushing yards and two rushing scores on Monday night. But he needed to grow as a passer in his third season for the Eagles to unlock their top level. Through two games, Hurts looks more than capable as a runner and a passer.
Like the Miami Dolphins did with Hurts' old college teammate, Tagovailoa, the Eagles boosted their quarterback by building around him. The Eagles have a great offensive line, effective running game and they traded for alpha receiver A.J. Brown. If the Eagles failed this season because Hurts didn't play well enough, he had no excuses.
Hurts has been really good to start this season. The Vikings shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week, then got scorched by Hurts in Week 2. Hurts was 26-of-31 for 333 yards.
Jalen Hurts is first player in NFL history to have:
300+ passing yards
80.0+ completion %
Rush for multiple TDs
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) September 20, 2022
It looks like Hurts has taken another step in his third NFL season. That shouldn't be too big of a surprise.
Eagles defense has a big game too
The Eagles defense heard a lot of criticism after the Detroit Lions scored 35 points on them last week, but that seemed like an overreaction. A lot of those Lions points came after the Eagles took a big lead. There is too much talent on the defense for them to play like that all season.
It showed against the Vikings. Justin Jefferson, who had a huge Week 1 and is arguably the NFL's best receiver, did very little on Monday night. Darius Slay Jr., who had two interceptions, had a great night in coverage against him. The Eagles gave Jefferson extra attention and made sure he didn't beat them. Jefferson had six catches for 48 yards and it seemed like even less than that.
The Eagles defense made big plays repeatedly in its own territory. In the third quarter they had a field goal blocked and punter/holder Arryn Siposs made a great hustle play to make a tackle and prevent a touchdown on the return. It was still a chance for the Vikings to get back in the game. Shortly after that, Kirk Cousins threw an interception to Eagles defensive back Avonte Maddox. That was Cousins' second interception in Eagles territory — he'd throw one more in the end zone — and it pretty much sealed up the win for Philadelphia.
The Eagles have a lot of exciting pieces. There's no real weakness on the roster, though many wondered if the quarterback would be. What happens this Eagles season if the quarterback ends up being a strength?