It took nearly nine minutes of game action for Jalen Hurts to re-introduce himself to the NFL. When he did, the new starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles showed why the team moved on from Carson Wentz.
Hurts dazzled in Week 1 as he accounted for 326 total yards (264 passing, 62 rushing) and three touchdowns during the Eagles’ 32-6 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. In doing so, the one-time Heisman Trophy finalist put the entire league on notice and showcased just how explosive a Nick Sirianni offense can be. The NFC East might go through Philly once again – OK, maybe we’re jumping the gun a bit – but Hurts certainly made his first rent payment on time. Sixteen more installments are due.
“I always say rent is due every day,” Hurts told reporters on Sunday. “All the hard work we’ve put in, all the different changes we’ve endured and had to overcome and persevere through — new coaching, new values as a football team, and buying into it. And, coming out here Week 1 and starting off the right way, I think that’s good. Started off well.”
Hurts finished with a 126.4 passer rating while completing 77.1% if his passes in the regular-season opener. He was efficient. He was decisive. He was unstoppable. Especially when using his legs to extend plays and escape costly sacks. Remember, the Eagles were the most sacked team last season (65) and averaged 4.1 sacks per game. Hurts’ mobility changed everything on Sunday for an offense that purposely kept it vanilla in the preseason.
“It’s definitely what I expected. And it’s only the beginning,” running back Miles Sanders said. “Taking it one week at a time. Round 1 is over. Got the dub, on to San Fran.”
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DeVonta Smith Catches TD on Opening Drive
Hurts’ first touchdown throw was an 18-yard dart to DeVonta Smith who slipped past his defender and beat man coverage. The Heisman Trophy winner was the beneficiary of a perfectly-timed rub route from Zach Ertz on the play.
“It came down to getting the coverage we wanted and then making the play,” Smith said. “It comes down to reps, when you rep it so much [in practice] you just get used to it and then all the reps we’ve done, I think that’s why we executed it so good.”
Smith put on a clinic in route running versus Atlanta en route to six catches for 71 yards, which tied a franchise record for the most receptions by a rookie in his debut. After the game, the former Alabama standout revealed that he thought the pro game was actually slower paced than the college one.
“The NFL, I feel like it’s slower, it’s a little bit slower than college,” Smith said. “Everybody goes no huddle [in college]. I think that’s just how college is played and this is how the NFL is played.”
Jalen Reagor, Dallas Goedert Cap Scoring Drives
Second-year receiver Jalen Reagor got in on the fun, too. He took a well-designed screen pass 23 yards to the house for a fourth-quarter touchdown following a vicious block from Jordan Mailata. Reagor finished with six catches for 49 yards and a score. Hurts also hit Dallas Goedert for a nine-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter.
“That boy got some receivers out there that I’m excited about,” defensive end Brandon Graham said. “Obviously you saw [No.] 6 score the first touchdown. I think it was good to see both Jalens do good, especially not knowing what to expect. But I know we’re confident in each other and it’s only going to get better.”
Goedert had four receptions for 42 yards. Quez Watkins made three catches for 23 yards. And Zach Ertz finished with two grabs for 34 yards, plus that pick play to free up Smith. The three-time Pro Bowler left the field prior to halftime with a hamstring injury, but returned in the second half. It didn’t appear to be anything too serious, although worth monitoring.