Jalen Hurts has invigorated the Philadelphia Eagles

NFL

PHILADELPHIA (AP)Jalen Hurts has invigorated the Philadelphia Eagles.

The rookie quarterback’s impressive performance in a 33-26 loss at Arizona on Sunday earned him a third straight start and pushed the organization closer to a difficult decision in the offseason.

Hurts relied on his legs to help the Eagles upset the New Orleans Saints in his first career start. He showed off his passing skills against the Cardinals, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 63 and a score.

But the Eagles (4-9-1) still fell short and lost an opportunity to take control of their playoff hopes in the pitiful NFC East.

Hurts took a safety for intentional grounding in the end zone in the first quarter and was sacked six times, including consecutive plays after the Eagles had a first down at the Arizona 11 with three minutes remaining.

He’ll be under center instead of Carson Wentz again when the Eagles visit Dallas (5-9).

”He just ran the offense. He did what Jalen can do,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday. ”We protected the football, and the guys around him have played better. They’ve elevated their game, as well, and they’re improving each week. That’s all part of I think Jalen’s success, too, is having the guys around him play better.”

The Eagles must decide how to handle a quarterback situation in which Wentz’s $128 million, four-year contract kicks in next season.

Will four games be enough to evaluate Hurts?

”I think you have a good idea,” Pederson said. ”Obviously, we haven’t had a full body of 16-plus games, a preseason. We really don’t know necessarily. I do think you can go back and just watch him from his college days. Again, Alabama, Oklahoma, how he’s led those teams and the success he’s had there, I think that gives you a good indication as to maybe who he is and what he can be, I think, down the road.

”We still have to improve, though. There’s room to grow. Nothing is perfect, and there are some mistakes that are still being made that we have to correct, even in his game. It is a little bit of a small sample size to really probably make that determination, overall.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Hurts has led the offense to 50 points in two starts after the team averaged 17 points per game over the previous four. He’s been a playmaker whether running with the ball or throwing it.

NEEDS HELP

The offensive line allowed six sacks. Pederson said some of those were Hurts’ fault because he didn’t get rid of the ball quickly enough on three-step drops, but an injury-depleted unit has struggled in pass protection all season.

STOCK UP

Rookie wide receiver Quez Watkins had three catches for 40 yards, including a 32-yard TD on a screen. He displayed his speed, quickness and a nice spin move on that one.

STOCK DOWN

Right tackle Matt Pryor, playing because Lane Johnson and Jack Driscoll are out, had a tough time again. Pryor surrendered four of the six sacks.

INJURED

Cornerback Darius Slay is likely to return after missing a game with a concussion. The secondary needs him. Kyler Murray threw for a career-best 406 yards.

KEY NUMBER

526 – The defense allowed a whopping amount of total yards.

NEXT STEPS

The Eagles play the Cowboys on the road. Despite being last in the NFC East, the Eagles still have a chance to win the division. They have to win the final two games against the Cowboys and Washington (6-8) and need Washington to lose to Carolina this week and the Giants (5-9) to lose one of their last two games.

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.