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September 20, 2022

Jalen Hurts had his best game as an NFL quarterback against the Vikings

Eagles NFL
Jalen-Hurts-TD-Celebration-Eagles-Vikings-Week-2-2022-NFL.jpg Kate Frese/For PhillyVoice

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts strikes a pose after connecting on a 53-yard touchdown pass to Quez Watkins in the first half against the Vikings Monday, September 19, 2022.

With the way general manager Howie Roseman has overhauled this Eagles roster over the last two seasons, he's put quarterback Jalen Hurts in the perfect position to succeed. If 2022 was going to be a sink-or-swim season for Hurts, he must taking lessons from Katie Ledecky because he played his best game as an NFL passer under the bright lights of Monday Night Football against the Vikings.

It was evident from the game's first drive that Hurts was on a different level than what Eagles fans have been accustomed to. He had a huge third-and-13 conversion with a 19-yard A.J. Brown reception. On a later third down, he hit Zach Pascal for an eight-yard gain. That's before even getting to a huge third and eight the team "converted" that was brought back on penalty. I wrote on Monday morning that's Hurts' versatility as both a passer and runner makes him an x-factor on third down and that was on show immediately. 

Hurts later ran for a three-yard touchdown, but it was his passing, primarily from the pocket, that led to them throwing seven on the board. That's been a huge complaint about Hurts as a pro passer: he bails on the pocket too early. Hurts has already started rectifying it. The drive just felt so smooth, so effortless for a team that struggled to have easy scoring drives in 2021 (and 2020, and 2019, and 2018...). That was the antithesis of the brand of Eagles football this offense has displayed in recent years. Last season's version of Hurts is not leading that drive that way. 

Things really started popping off when the Birds got the ball back next. On the first play of the second quarter, Hurts hung in the pocket in the most prototypical way possible and lofted a perfect pass down field into the arms of a streaking Quez Watkins for a 53-yard touchdown. Effortless. Again. If Eagles fans have concerns about how long Hurts can do play like this type of QB, it's understandable, but on national television, Hurts showcased that he's more than "just a running quarterback." 

Is 2020 or 2021 Hurts making that throw? He's had some nice deep balls, but I'm saying no! 

Hurts' intangibles, which are always propped up in contrast to the ways he's struggled as a passer at times, remained off the charts and on display. He was poised. He was a clear leader. This is his team. If Hurts the passer catches up to Hurts the teammate, clear out your plans for January. 

His stat sheet won't look flawless, but his one fourth quarter interception did fly right off running back Kenny Gainwell's hands into the arms of a Minnesota defender. I can't fault him for that. Otherwise, hats off to the dude for balling out and giving every Eagles fan an unparalleled level of cockiness to carry themselves with the rest of the week. 

The best-case scenario at the time Hurts was drafted was that he would never play, hanging on the sideline behind Carson Wentz. That new best-case scenario involves a trip to Arizona, a big ol' shiny trophy and another parade. 

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