PHILADELPHIA - It's been just over a month since an ugly loss in Las Vegas had many speculating on whether Nick Sirianni would be a one-and-done head coach, and who the 2022 Eagles quarterback might be because the page was already turning on Jalen Hurts.
Fast forward through Thanksgiving and the NFC East is back in play for the Eagles,
Sirianni looks like the best of the rookie mentors from a growth standpoint and too many have spent time debating the shelf life of Hurts in order to figure out when Paul Domowitch will be stating the young signal caller's case in front of the selection committee in Canton.
Hurts, of course, doesn't want to hear any of it.
In his mind, the haters are the same as the enablers - distractions in the path of goals.
"I’ve experienced so much rat poison in my life. I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen the good, I’ve seen the bad. I’ve really learned how to block it all out," Hurts explained on Friday after practice. "I couldn’t really care less about what’s being said out there. It makes no difference in how I prepare. It makes no difference in the ultimate goal in what it is for us and for me.
"I’ve learned to block it out over the years."
The only real differences between the Eagles team that lost to the Raiders 33-22 (it wasn't that close) and the one that beat the New Orleans Saints 40-29 (it also wasn't that close) last week revolve around a young coaching staff learning about the talent on hand and the circumstance of an easier schedule coupled with opponents missing key players at important spots.
The results have been three wins in four games and the ability to run the football at will, which can be traced to a powerful offensive line and the unique QB that gives the Eagles a plus-one in the running game on every play.
All of that is better than the alternative and the upcoming schedule, consecutive games against the Giants and Jets at MetLife Stadium before a late-bye and a home-and-home series against the Washington Football Team sandwiching another game with the reeling NYG has many quickly realizing that the Eagles aren't seeing another "good football team" until 2022, whether it's a revitalized Dallas club in Week 18 or an unknown in the playoffs.
The fact that the Eagles, spearheaded by the accelerated learning curve of Sirianni and the better usage of Hurts' skill set, are improving and yet not ready to compete with the tops teams in the NFC are not mutually exclusive things. The sentiments are, however, aligned with reality.
Win or lose on a given week, Hurts tends to focus on situational football and how his offense did on third downs and in the red zone particularly.
Since the Eagles arrived in Vegas and shifted the offense to a run-heavy mentality the offense has converted 53.6 percent of their third downs (37 of 69), compared to a 38.9 percent mark (28 of 72) over the first six games.
Overall, Hurts is now piloting the fourth-best third-down offense in the league (46.1), behind only perceived Super Bowl contenders like the Chiefs (51.5), Bills (50.0), and the Buccaneers (48.0).
"I think overall execution has been better," Hurts said. "I know a football team playing us, trying to defend us, they have a lot to worry about with the receivers we have, the running game we have, and the ability to extend and do all those things. It’s been something that’s been good for us. We just want to continue to play at a high level and be consistent with it."
As for the feedback, pundits and fans will continue to provide it, ranging from the worst of the trolls to the biggest of cheerleaders. Just understand Hurts created his own mute button long before you discovered it on Twitter.
"Rat poison, to me, is something I don’t want to hear. I don’t want to hear the good. I don’t want to hear the bad," Hurts said. "Control what I can and keep the main thing the main thing.
"I worry about my standards, my goals."
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.