The Eagles had a chance to make a big statement in primetime on Monday night.
Jalen Hurts made it in a big way.
Hurts played what was without question the best game of his Eagles career in the team’s 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings, finishing 26/31 for 333 yards, 1 passing touchdown, two rushing touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 108.7.
When you combine it with his outstanding showing against Detroit, it is looking more-and-more like the team has the franchise quarterback they have been waiting for -- and Hurts might be the MVP of the NFL through two weeks.
Hurts was on fire right from the jump on Monday night, leading the Eagles to a touchdown on the opening drive of the game by making big plays on third down.
First, Hurts hit AJ Brown on 3rd-and-13 for a 19-yard gain. Then he hit Zach Pascal on 3rd-and-3 for another first down three plays later. By the time he ran the ball in for a touchdown from three-yards out, the Eagles had a 7-0 lead and Hurts was a perfect 5/5 for 63 yards.
Hurts followed up his electric start by hitting Quez Watkins on a perfect 53-yard deep pass for a touchdown on the team’s third drive, bringing his stats to 10/10 for 154 yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.
Hurts added to what could end up being his MVP highlight reel when he took off for a 26-yard touchdown run towards the end of the first half, making multiple defenders miss and forcing his way into the end zone from about four-yards out over multiple defenders, giving the Eagles a 21-7 lead.
It is crystal clear that Hurts has made a big improvement as a passer.
What really stands out is Hurts ball placement on his passes has been nothing short of elite this season. Hurts hit DeVonta Smith on back-to-back passes on plays toward the end of the second half, putting the ball in the perfect location so that Smith could keep running after the catch. He has routinely hit players right where he needs to, whether it is in stride or right on the numbers.
Another clear improvement in Hurts’ game has been his play on third down. Hurts made big plays on third down last year periodically, but he has been special on the money down this season, consistently making a play to get a fresh set of downs. What made Carson Wentz so special in 2017 was his plays on third downs — and Hurts has made that same kind of leap this season.
Hurts improvement as a passer has made the Eagles offense lethal. They are already elite at running the ball. Hurts is one of the most dangerous running quarterbacks in the NFL.
Add in a passing that game moved the ball though the air whenever they wanted on Monday and they are not just shaping up to be one of the best offenses in the league, but one of the best teams overall — and Hurts improvement is the biggest reason why.
You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him email@example.com!