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Weapon X Mailbag: How can Jalen Hurts become the Eagles’ 2021 starter?

Plus: is Philly sports media toxic?

Philadelphia Eagles v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

I’m feeling a little spicy after Jalen Hurts’ second-half performance on Sunday and the fact that he’s got the starting job against New Orleans. For the first time in a while, I’m not entirely miserable while doing this mailbag. On to the questions!

@AgliataJake: Assuming he is the starter the rest of the season (big if true, I know), how good would Hurts need to be to go into next season as the undisputed starter?

I’m not sure if Hurts is The Guy, but I prefer rolling with a tantalizing 22-year-old prospect in a season where the Eagles aren’t real contenders over whatever Carson Wentz is right now. He deserves to start the remainder of the season, as our own Benjamin Solak laid out so well this week.

So... how can Hurts solidify himself as the unquestioned 2021 Week 1 starter? If he wins a playoff game, you roll with him. I know that sounds wild, but it’s theoretically possible. I did a whole From the Bleachers episode on BGN Radio last week about wanting the Eagles to lose out, but the Eagles are still alive in the disgusting NFC East race.

Let’s say the Eagles win their Week 16 and 17 games against Dallas and Washington, respectively, and making the playoffs at 5-10-1. I think that was on the table even if Wentz was starting. Hell, maybe if Hurts gets rolling, they even steal a win against a floundering Cardinals team in Week 15 and make it at 6-9-1.

They win the division and get a home playoff game against Seattle or Tampa Bay as big underdogs before Hurts is unleashed with over 300 yards of total offense in an upset win. The Eagles then go down to New Orleans for the Divisional Round and Hurts plays valiantly in a single-digit loss to the Saints. You’d have to give him the job.

Is any of that going to happen? No! It’s why this hypothetical is so hard to envision. There’s going to be competition.

@helloitmejer: Assuming we can’t trade Wentz, how do we get ourselves out of cap hell this offseason???

For the record, trading Wentz does little to help the team’s cap shit, freeing up less than a million bucks. Whether the Wentz is on the roster in 2021 remains to be seen, but their cap situation is a disaster either way. As of right now, they’re more than $46 million over the cap for next season:

Obviously, they’ll eventually get under the cap, but it’ll be a daunting task. Money will get kicked down the road, veterans will be let go, etc. It’s so weird to say when the 2020 season isn’t even over with, but it feels like they’re going to have to punt on the 2021 season, right? I’m not saying they’re tanking, but with the quarterback position in turmoil and no wiggle room whatsoever to add talent in free agency for a team that’s desperately lacking it, every move this offseason should be made with the thought of putting a sustainable contender on the field for 2022.

Short answer: I don’t think we can.

@mhrnova93: What will next season’s offensive line look like?

Here’s what I’m thinking: Jason Peters and Jason Kelce retire. Isaac Seumalo kicks in to center. Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson resume their usual spots on the right side of the line, but we have two fresh-faced starters opposite them: Jordan Mailata at left tackle and Jack Driscoll at left guard.

The biggest wrench in here is Andre Dillard. The current regime’s opinion on Dillard feels improbably low for a tackle they traded up for just last year. Mailata, who’s about 18 months younger than Dillard, has performed admirably at left tackle this season, should have played more than he already has and has earned the starting gig for next season.

Maybe Dillard winds up as a Big V-like swing tackle, but that’s a bad outcome for a first-round tackle. If the organization cleans house with a new front office too, Dillard’s days as an Eagle could ultimately be numbered.

@knappattackk: Why does it seem Lurie gets a bit more of a pass from media/fans for the organization’s failings (x2 now) unlike guys like [Sixers owner] Josh Harris and [Phillies owner] John Middleton who are (rightly) criticized for creating similar messes?

Jeffrey Lurie has overseen, by far, the most successful two-decade run in franchise history. The Eagles won a Super Bowl under his watch. He’s not afraid to spend money and make big free agent signings. His teams have been on the forefront of progressive football concepts and analytics since the Andy Reid era. On the surface level, Lurie is an ideal owner.

I’m not some bootlicker though. Lurie has his faults. His close relationship with Howie Roseman has proven faulty, as his golden boy has outlasted power struggles with Joe Banner, Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and, likely soon, Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz. Not parting with Roseman after this dysfunctional season, the seeds of which were planted the offseason immediately following the organization’s Super Bowl, would be complete malpractice and the biggest blemish on his record as owner.

His overreach, his meddling in personnel affairs, is likely greater than fans like to admit though. While he’s not Jerry Jones, he’s not some eternally patient, hands-off business dude either.

John Middleton shouldn’t even own a professional sports team with how cheap he is. Joshua Harris has been inept at many turns before falling ass-backwards into possibly the best front office executive in the entire sport of basketball. Neither compares in the slightest to Lurie.

@j_thompson____: What needs to happen for you to be excited quickly about this team similar to the turnaround the 76ers have had?

Similar to my point about Daryl Morey above: new blood. Go steal an executive from Baltimore, Seattle or San Francisco to run the show. Get the Titans’ Arthur Smith, the Panthers’ Joe Brady or the Bills’ Brian Daboll as head coach. Take a non-North Dakota State quarterback in the top five of the draft or have one of those three make Hurts look like a stud. As I wrote for the salary cap question, let’s build for a 2022 contender.

Hope is free and it’s oh-so sweet.

@seanpartyofone: Why is Philly sports media so toxic?

It’s not. Speaking as a fan, fandom is an entirely toxic undertaking. You devote a significant portion of time, mental space and your overall well-being into something that you have absolutely zero control over that ultimately has no bearing on your real life, no matter how much it feels like it does.

Speaking as a media member (I don’t think of myself as a real, old-school journalist), the media is the same everywhere. It’s not Philly.

Fandom is the insane thing that gets us all so riled up and so emotionally attached to certain figures that when a member of the media says something critical about a quarterback or coach that someone loves, that person loses it and takes it as a personal affront. The media isn’t toxic because they want to see Jalen Hurts start or Doug Pederson fired. They’re expressing their opinion, just as much as everyone else is. The only media members people think are toxic are the ones who they just disagree with most often.

@rynej__: What’s the point of all this?

This is the way.