Doug Pederson goes for it on fourth down a lot. The Eagles rank second in the NFL in fourth-down attempts, but Sunday's 4th-and-2 try on the Saints' 15-yard-line felt different. It was early in the second quarter, neither team had scored, and Philadelphia was starting a rookie quarterback for the first time this season. The Eagles could get on the board with an easy field goal. Instead, Pederson went for it, trusting his rookie, and Jalen Hurts found veteran receiver Alshon Jeffery in the end zone with a beautiful back-shoulder pass.
"Hurts is always so calm," an NFC executive said. "I expected [this kind of performance] because he comes from being on the big stage."
"He played well," one veteran evaluator said. "He showed poise and made some timely throws. Protected the ball and used his legs to keep defense off balance. It was a very promising first start for him."
Hurts, the former Alabama and Oklahoma star who was famously benched at halftime of the College Football Playoff National Championship for Tua Tagovailoa, received positive first-start reviews from the NFL evaluators Bleacher Report spoke to for this story. He ran for 106 yards and revived a long-dormant ground game with running back Miles Sanders (115 yards and two touchdowns, including one 82-yarder). Philadelphia totaled 246 rushing yards against a defense that hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 55 straight games.