PHILADELPHIA - The NFL began naming Players of the Week in 1984.
Over the ensuing 38 years, plenty of Eagles have been declared the NFC’s best in either offense, defense, or special teams but none had been awarded POTW for two consecutive weeks until Jalen Hurts turned the trick in consecutive efforts against Green Bay and Tennessee.
Two weeks ago against the Packers, Hurts ran for 157 yards and threw for 153 becoming the first player in league history to run and throw for more than 150 yards in a single game.
In last week’s 35-10 win over the Titans, Hurts passed for a season-high 380 yards and totaled four touchdowns – three passing and one rushing.
It marked the most passing yards and highest passer rating (130.3) of any quarterback in Week 13. He was also just seven yards short of tying his career high in passing, but with the Eagles winning a laugher, Hurts sat for the final 9:40 of Sunday's game.
As a team, Philadelphia was the first to run for more that 350 yards in one week and then pass for over 350 the next since the 1987 Raiders.
The divergence of Hurts’ game is having a profound impact on the opposition and how they are trying to defend the Eagles’ offense.
“It's pretty special,” head coach Nick Sirianni said of the QB’s dual-threat abilities. “Obviously, you love that as a coach, to be able to work it both ways because you saw the effect it had on the defense. Without getting too much into it, there was a major effect.
“The way he ran the week before (against Green Bay) had a major effect on how the Titans played us. A major, major effect. Now the teams are going to have to look at that as well, how the Titans played us, how we played against them.”
It’s pick your poison for opposing defenses with Hurts producing 29 total touchdowns, including 20 passing and nine rushing, while developing into a leading candidate for MVP.
Sirianni has been around great QBs during his coaching career and has a deep affinity for both Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck but the mentor has never had the freedom to build such a well-rounded offense until Hurts took off in Philly this season.
“Man, I don't think so,” he said. “I know Philip wasn't running for all those yards like that. You talk about the good quarterbacks I've been around. Philip was more of a pocket passer. Andrew was a little bit more of a pocket passer, but had the ability to move and get out of things. But those were two more pocket passers.
“Again, Andrew could do some of those things. But Jalen is so dynamic as far as both the things he's doing, right? You guys would know the stats better than I would, how many guys have actually thrown for that many yards after a game where they ran for that many yards? Setting a team record in rushing yards, then coming out and doing that (against the Titans).
The result is the No. 3 ranked offense in the NFL that is second in points per game, fourth in third-down offense, and second in both fourth-down offense and red-zone offense.
“It really helps you as a coach,” said Sirianni. “It helps the entire team, obviously, when he's doing the things he's doing like that.”
Hurts himself was typically non-plussed when discussing his latest achievement.
“It’s cool,” the QB admitted of his consecutive POTW awards. “It comes with a lot of hard work. I acknowledge that. But I’m focused on the Giants. … I’m focused on preparing this week.”
Ironically, the Giants at MetLife Stadium last season was arguably Hurts’ worst game since taking over as the starter for Philadelphia. He finished 14-for-31 for 129 yards with three interceptions and injured his ankle in a 13-7 loss.
“I think there’s a reflection after every game and you want to be honest with yourself when you look in the mirror and assess the way you played and assess the way you did your job,” Hurts said of his poor performance. “I think that’s after every win. I think that’s after every loss. I’ve always said the teachable moments don’t have to come from the worst or bad experiences. They can come from the positive ones as well.
“I’ve tried to remain consistent with all these experiences and just learn from it.”
All the teachable moments have led to this point and the opportunity for the 11-1 Eagles to clinch a playoff berth a month in advance.
It’s all just business as usual for Hurts.
“I’m emotionless," he said. "I’m just kind of focused on what’s in front of me. As a football team we truly want to stay true to our progress. Stay true to the grind, the hustle. You’ve got to stay true to that and stay true to yourself because you have so many things changing around you. You have so many opinions and whatever.
“Just stay true to the process and continue to do your work.”
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Football 24/7 and a daily contributor to ESPN South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen