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Upon further review, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni doubles down on Jalen Hurts’ first performance

It was a small sample size, but "he was in complete command of the offense," Sirianni said of his young QB.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts watches his teammates take on the Pittsburgh Steelers after he left the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts watches his teammates take on the Pittsburgh Steelers after he left the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Immediately following the Eagles’ first preseason game Thursday against the Steelers, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni told reporters that quarterback Jalen Hurts and the first-team offense looked very crisp.

Hurts completed 3 of 7 passes for 54 yards and rushed once against Pittsburgh, but his numbers weren’t indicative of how composed he seemed in and around the pocket.

After retreating to the film room and intensely focusing on the team’s first two possessions, Sirianni doubled down on his observations of Hurts.

“Gosh,” Sirianni said Saturday. “I thought he played better than I even thought when I got into the room on Thursday night. I just thought he was in complete command of the offense.”

Hurts had only 10 snaps over the first two series, but the coaching staff evaluated those plays as if they were a full game’s worth of snaps, according to Sirianni.

“Great command of the offense,” he said. “Great checks. Was really pleased with the way he played. There’s one or two [plays] that I’m like, ‘Ah, I wanted you to step up and rip it back to the back side.’ But, we’re learning from that.”

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Sirianni’s recent praise of Hurts is a development worth paying attention to.

Throughout training camp, Hurts has taken 100% of the first-team snaps in practices. However, Sirianni has been noncommittal in naming him the starter. On July 28, with general manager Howie Roseman seated alongside him in the media tent at the NovaCare Complex, Sirianni said he wanted Hurts to “take the reins and roll with it.”

Hurts might not have total control at the moment, but at least he has gained a slight grip of those reins. His performance, albeit brief, in Week 1 of the preseason was noticeably better than the version of Hurts we’ve seen in practices over the past two-plus weeks.

“I want to come on the field and complete every pass, score touchdowns every time I touch the field,” Hurts said. “The competitor in me is like, ‘damn.’ But I think it was a good day. We have to be better on third down, for sure. [The Eagles went 0-for-8 on third down.] But coming out there, for the most part, executing. There’s a lot to learn from that, always.”

After getting a trial version of Hurts in his four starts last season, NFL pundits and fans were left wondering about his accuracy and decision making. Those are still lingering issues that the 2020 second-round pick needs to address. He’ll get an extended opportunity next week when the Eagles host the Patriots in a couple of joint practices leading up to their second preseason game against New England on Thursday evening at Lincoln Financial Field.

“I can’t wait to go to practice this week,” Hurts said. “That’s just how fired up I am to learn, to grow.”

In his first follow-up to Thursday’s game, Hurts was once again up and down during Saturday’s session. He overthrew a couple of his receivers, including Travis Fulgham and Jalen Reagor on a go route. He also was “sacked” a few times by defensive linemen Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat. His best connection occurred during seven-on-sevens in the red zone, when he had a touchdown completion to tight end Zach Ertz on a corner route.

After practice concluded, Hurts stayed behind with Ertz and tight end Dallas Goedert, and the three players put in additional work with an emphasis on routes down the middle. Following each completion, Hurts waved over Ertz and Goedert and they appeared to discuss what could be executed more crisply on the field.

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Such has been one of the intangibles for the 23-year old quarterback throughout a roller coaster of a summer.

“He acts like he’s been in the league for awhile,” running back Jordan Howard said of Hurts. “Just the way he carries himself, you’d think he’s been in the league for at least five years. That’s just his mentality as a young guy. He knows what his role is and what he has to do.

“He knows he’s the leader of the offense. He takes that very hard on himself.”