The accolades keep coming for Jalen Hurts. The new starter for the Philadelphia Eagles shut all his doubters up for at the time being. One specific stat even exceeded the goal set by his offensive coordinator.
Hurts completed 77.1% of his passes in Week 1 after going 27-of-35 for 264 yards and three touchdowns. His 126.4 passer rating was the highest by an Eagles quarterback since Nick Foles (141.4 rating) in the 2018 NFC Championship Game (via Eagles PR guru John Gonoude). Hurts also became the first guy to complete 75% of his passes with three-plus touchdowns and zero in a road game since Foles chucked seven in 2013.
On Tuesday, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen tried to put Hurts’ performance in perspective. He called it impressive while applauding the 23-year-old’s “calmness and readiness.” And the one stat that Steichen kept coming back to was that 77.1% completion percentage.
“I think any time you’re completing 77-percent of your passes, you’re putting your team in a position to win football games,” Steichen said. “The way he created plays outside the pocket, scrambling – I mean, we saw it in training camp, but to see it live on Sunday was very impressive. Hats off to him for his preparation and his execution.”
When asked if there was a benchmark where the Eagles wanted Hurts’ completion percentage to be at, Steichen said he would keep that information in-house. However, the tight-lipped coach let it slip that Carson Wentz’s successor had definitely topped their goal.
“We have a goal each week that we want to be at,” Steichen said. “But he definitely exceeded that goal on Sunday.”
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Shortest Intended Air Yards in Week 1
If there was one knock on Hurts – someone had to bring it up, right? – it was the short distance that he threw the football through the air on Sunday. He had the shortest intended air yards in the NFL this week at 3.7 (via Next Gen Stats). That means Hurts’ average pass traveled just 3.7 yards past the line of scrimmage, a half yard shorter than second-place finisher Andy Dalton (4.2).
If anyone is worried, don’t be. The Eagles’ coaching staff certainly isn’t sounding any alarms. Sometimes you have to check it down and give up on the bomb shot, something Wentz refused to do. It’s bound to happen with so many RPOs in the offensive game plan.
“We’re going to have our scheme shots where we’re trying to take our shot and if they take it away, we got to check it down. That’s the philosophy,” Steichen said. “If they’re not going to give us the big chunk, check it down to the tailback and he will get 10 and keep completing footballs.”
Flashing Natural Ability to Slide
Some mobile quarterbacks refuse to slide. They either don’t know how to do it or simply refuse to give up on a play. Michael Vick was a huge offender. Hurts seemed more than willing to drop down and do a Crocodile Mile (most of the time) rather than absorb the big hit. That brought a smile to Steichen’s face on Sunday.
“I think some of those guys have a natural ability. I think it carried over,” Steichen said. “He did a nice job in college. You can see it in the NFL, he knows when to get down and slide. He knows when he can get out of bounds. I think he has a natural feel for that. Obviously, we do talk about it in the quarterback room. But he does have a really good feel for it.”