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Jalen Hurts Starts Strong in Denver, Sets Tone

The Eagles young QB played better than he ever has during the first half than he has all season

DENVER – If you got dropped directly into a Jalen Hurts’ press conference without seeing the football game he just finished playing, you probably wouldn’t know if the Eagles' quarterback won by 17 or lost by 17, absent the context of the questions.

Hurts is that even-keeled.

On Sunday in Denver, it was the former as the Eagles dominated a banged-up Denver team during a 30-13 win in which Hurts had his best 30 minutes as a professional, starting the game 15-of-20 for 176 yards, two touchdowns, and a 134.6 passer rating as Philadelphia built a 20-10 lead.

"I think he’s very composed," said right tackle Lane Johnson. "He’s always composed. Never see him get too cheerful about stuff, or down. Every day he’s like that. Just been consistent. He works hard and leads our team at practice every day."

Hurts' stats and the advantage could have been even better if Quez Watkins could have corralled a near-perfect throw in the end zone that would have been a 34-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.

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Hurts, though, seemed a bit perplexed when asked by SI.com’s EagleMaven if that was his best stretch of football to date.

“Is that what they’re saying?” the QB volleyed back quizically.

To Hurts, the process is always more important than the results.

“Like I said, scoring on the first drive is very important to me,” Hurts said. “That’s something we didn’t do. I think they presented some different looks to us, sent a lot of pressure at moments in the game. I think there were highs, and the lows. The good, bad, and the ugly, we’re going to learn from it. I’m going to continue to learn from it and grow from it.”

The pass to Watkins was a perfect example of that. As a natural leader, Hurts defaults to protecting his receivers.

“Throws like that, just giving you guys some insight, there are some throws where you throw the ball, and you don’t know if the guy caught it or not because you’re taking a lick,” Hurts said. “We have a lot of belief in all the guys we have.”

There was no need to protect DeVonta Smith on his 36-yard throw for a touchdown to the rookie in the first quarter. He found Smith again on a 5-yard TD later in the half.

"He just gets better every day," said head coach Nick Sirianni about Hurts. "He truly exemplifies the getting better one percent better every day, getting better every day, and he continues to get better. he just did some really good things in that game."

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It wasn't all perfect for Hurts, who threw his first interception since Oct. 14

The QB realizes when fingers do get pointed they tend to go in both directions.

“I missed a throw last week on third down that I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that one,” said Hurts. “Quez, you know, he dropped one before half, a touchdown. And they happen. They have complete trust in me, and I have complete trust in them. So we keep bouncing back.

“ … The biggest thing you have to understand about us is the only direction is to rise. Continue to rise. Continue to grow. And continue to put in the effort. And everything will play out the way it’s supposed to.”

The reality, though, is that professional athletes are judged on results and Hurts’ results overall continue to be solid after the shift from an RPO-heavy offensive outfit early in the season to a more traditional run-oriented, play-action unit over the last month.

Hurts only completed one more pass in the second half against the Broncos but still finished 16-of-23 for 178 yards with a 103.2 passer rating.

Jalen Hurts runs for yards vs. Broncos

Jalen Hurts gains yards vs. Broncos

“I just think we have a talented crew,” Hurts said. “I’ve said it. I said it early on. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. And it seems like we’re finding that groove. We’re making that progress that we want to make as a football team and as an offense.

“We just want to go out there and be consistent at whatever it is, attacking the defense, whether we’re throwing it 40 times or running it 40 times. Whatever it is, we want to be efficient. When you’re efficient as a football team, as an offense, and how you attack, good things happen.”

No matter the successes or failures for Hurts during any given week, it remains about the process and learning from it for the young signal-caller.

“There’s no doubt. There’s no hesitation with anything I’m doing out there,” Hurts said. “I’m just trying to go out there and react to what I see. If we talked about it in meetings, if the coach knows what I’m doing or not, I’m going with my gut, going out there and trying to make it right.”

-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 jmcmullen44@gmail.com 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.