ATLANTA - If Jalen Hurts was visualizing a perfect season-opener, he nearly got it with what was an awe-inspiring performance during a 32-6 rout of the overmatched Atlanta Falcons.
The second-year quarterback, lightly-regarded by many in the national media especially, was lights out at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, throwing for 264 yards and three touchdowns with a gaudy 126.4 passer rating while adding 62 more yards on the ground.
It was the RPO-driven offense being alluded to all summer by the close-vested Sirianni being unleashed on the hapless Falcons, who were on their heels throughout the afternoon.
The numbers were really impressive with Hurts becoming just the third quarterback in NFL history to hit the weird template of throwing for 250-or-more yards while completing 70-plus percent of his passes (77.1) with three-or-more TDs, no picks, and over 60 yards rushing.
As goofy as that bar seems it does say one thing - none a lot of people on the planet have the ability to do what Hurts can do when the second-year man is clicking on all cylinders.
The best part of it all was the decision-making, however, with no turnovers and few mistakes that border on nitpicking, like when Hurts flushes right when he could conceivably climb the pocket.
“I think it’s good to win opening day, opening week for us,” Hurts said after the game. “All the hard work we put in. All the different changes we endured and overcome, persevered through. New coach, new values as a football team and buying into it and coming out here with a win.
“We started off the right way. I think it’s good.”
Coach Nick Sirianni was consistent throughout the summer in claiming that the Eagles would have a competitive advantage early in the season when it came to Hurts and the uniqueness of what he can bring to an offense.
For 60 minutes in Atlanta, Sirianni’s perspective proved prophetic.
“We chomp at the bit every day," said Hurts. "I always say ‘rent is due every day.’ But I’m going to take a step comparing my preparation, my learning, understanding and attacking what we want to do, and everybody being on the same page. That’s something we need to be consistent with moving forward, to be the team that we want to be.”
Running back Miles Sanders, who led the team with 74 yards rushing on 15 carries, explained what Sirianni is trying to do with the offense now that the cat is officially out of the bag.
“To try to run the ball down their throat," said Sanders. "We have an RPO, so there’s a lot of different reads that goes into each run play, but every play is a run [to start]. Just trying to be aggressive and attack the defense in as many different ways possible.”
And for Sanders, Hurts is the perfect tool to run what Sirianni wants.
“His will to win," said Sanders. "He don’t stop. He’s running it, he’s giving calls, giving checks and he’s holding everybody to a high standard. He’s a field general out there.”
Breaking down what Sirianni has essentially done is bring the college came to the professional ranks in what is a trickle-up industry when it comes to innovation.
“There are options.," said Sirianni. "I like to give our quarterbacks options on plays and give Jalen options on plays, and you just react off the defense. So, sometimes on run plays. … and then sometimes on pass plays it's like that. so you built-in everywhere around the field and just trying to teach a quarterback where to go with the ball versus different looks.”
Known for his calm demeanor and steady pulse, Sunday went as good as it possibly could for Hurts, but the 24-hour rule remains in effect.
“I think it’s a good start for us, with the dawg mentality...Just want to be consistent,” Hurts said. “There are a lot of things we need to clean up. There are a lot of things I need to clean up. Go back to work. Enjoy it for 24 hours and we’ll be back working.”
-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.