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November 15, 2021

John McMullen: Things are starting to play out for Eagles QB Jalen Hurts

One week the Eagles can’t possibly move forward with Jalen Hurts as their quarterback and the next Howie Roseman contributed an atrocity that may one day be tried in The Hague by daring to cross the state to kickstart the due diligence on Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Welcome to Philadelphia where the mood swings when it comes to the city’s passion might be kindly defined as bipolar and maybe more accurately be labeled as schizophrenia.

Hurts has always been above it all, a 23-year-old "Old Soul" obsessed by his own process, a word bastardized and broken in the City of Brotherly Love by the Sixers but one still meaningful to Hurts because he's been taught to avoid the "Rat Poison" by Nick Saban while he was at Alabama.

Hurts has somehow done that despite losing his job at Alabama and being pigeonholed as a developmental prospect with a limited upside as an NFL starter by many after finishing as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma.

On Sunday after he riddled the Denver Broncos during a 30-13 win in which the second-year QB had his best 30 minutes as a professional, starting the game 15-of-20 for 176 yards, two touchdowns, and a 134.6 passer rating as the Eagles built a 20-10 lead, numbers that would have even been better if Quez Watkins caught Hurts' best pass of the night, a dime that would have been a 34-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.

Hurts' stock among the Philly faithful quickly soared past the much-ballyhooed elevation of the Mile High City itself.

For at least a week Hurts is the answer until the next dose of medicine is due next Sunday against New Orleans. If the meds — a potential first home win of the season against New Orleans — aren't delivered Roseman can once again resume doing his job without being ridiculed, at least until the next mood swing.

Hurts remains oblivious to it all, almost the tortoise racing the hare.

“Is that what they’re saying?” the QB said to be quizically when I asked if that was the best half of football he's played at the professional level.

To Hurts, it was just another 30 minutes with plenty to improve upon.

“Like I said, scoring on the first drive is very important to me,” Hurts said. “That’s something we didn’t do. I think they presented some different looks to us, sent a lot of pressure at moments in the game. I think there were highs, and the lows. The good, bad, and the ugly, we’re going to learn from it. I’m going to continue to learn from it and grow from it.”

The second half was more ugly from a passing perspective in the form of 1-for-8 for just two yards, forgotten to the heroics of Darius Slay and the running game.

The tale of the two halves was almost the living embodiment of those wild mood swings that write Hurts off after losses and have him en route to Canton after the wins.

"I think he’s very composed," said right tackle Lane Johnson. "He’s always composed. Never see him get too cheerful about stuff, or down. Every day he’s like that. Just been consistent. He works hard and leads our team at practice every day."

You can set your watch to the consistency of Hurts' mindset, ever mindful of the end game.

The hare has raced out to the lead in this race but the tortoise is moving forward relentlessly, a game out of the NFC's final playoff spot with a schedule that tells you the postseason (yes, Jim Mora, the postseason) is in reach.

"He just gets better every day," head coach Nick Sirianni said when discussing Hurts. "He truly exemplifies the getting better one percent better every day, getting better every day, and he continues to get better."

While others discuss arm strength, decision-making, or accuracy, Hurts just focuses on Sirianni's trite but realistic goal, and one hardly new to football whether it's framed as winning the day or getting one percent better.

“I missed a throw last week on third down that I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that one,” said Hurts. “Quez, you know, he dropped one before half, a touchdown. And they happen. They have complete trust in me, and I have complete trust in them. So we keep bouncing back.

“ … The biggest thing you have to understand about us is the only direction is to rise. Continue to rise. Continue to grow. And continue to put in the effort. And everything will play out the way it’s supposed to.”

John McMullen is a contributor to, and covers the Eagles and the NFL for Sports Illustrated and JAKIB Media. He’s also the co-host of “Birds 365,” a daily streaming show covering the Eagles and the NFL and the host of “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.comFollow John on Twitter.