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Eagles counting on Carson Wentz to build on his late 2019 success in 2020

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Eagles training camp position preview: Quarterbacks.

NFL: DEC 22 Cowboys at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Philadelphia Eagles training camp is right around the corner ... maybe? Players are currently scheduled to report to the NovaCare Complex later this month. As we count down the days together, Bleeding Green Nation will be previewing every position on the Eagles’ roster. We begin today by taking a look at the quarterback position.


DISCLAIMER

I’ve gotta say, it feels pretty strange to be writing preview posts when we’re not even sure if there will be a real training camp and/or 2020 NFL season. I don’t doubt the league is going to try their hardest but I just don’t know about the realistic viability as the coronavirus pandemic persists. With that in mind, it’s challenging for me to write about the team as if things are business as usual. Just feels weird, you know? Some real cognitive dissonance going on. To be clear, I don’t mean to complain. There are much bigger and more important issues going on in the world than a minor inconvenience for me. Just trying to be honest about my feelings upfront, though. In addition to the uncertain outlook moving forward, it’s also weird not having seen spring practices to use as base knowledge for what to expect in camp. I’ll still attempt to put my best foot forward with this preview series.

THE PLAYERS

CARSON WENTZ

Wentz largely silenced his doubters by playing well down the stretch en route to the Eagles winning the NFC East in 2019. His numbers over four consecutive must-win games: 117/173 (67.6% completion), 1,199 yards (6.9 average), 7 TD, 0 INT, 100.8 passer rating. Wentz stepped up in the clutch and he did it while proving he could elevate lesser talent around him considering the practice squad supporting cast he was playing with.

It was unfortunate to see Wentz’s progress overshadowed by Jadeveon Clowney’s illegal, concussion-causing cheap shot on him in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. That injury was just the latest in a string of bad luck for No. 11.

The Eagles will hope that Wentz can remain healthy and build on the progress he made late during the 2019 season. He’s demonstrated development not only as a player but also as a leader off the field, which is important given previous criticism about his locker room behavior.

There’s ample reason to feel good the Eagles’ out look with Wentz leading the way. The big question is whether his new supporting cast is truly good enough. It clearly wasn’t in 2019. Howie Roseman did make an effort to add more speed to the Eagles’ offense, yes, but first-round pick Jalen Reagor was really the only significant resource investment. There are still many unanswered questions about the wide receiver position and that’s something we’ll address in the coming days.

Assuming things work out and Wentz does have at least a competent receiving corps featuring a legitimate deep threat (or more) to work with, the Eagles should expect him to lead them to the postseason again in 2020. Hopefully he can stay healthy and deliver a playoff win at the very least ... if not more.

NATE SUDFELD

The Eagles re-signed Sudfeld to a one-year contract worth $2 million (with only $500,000 guaranteed) one day into the legal tampering window. It’s clear that he wasn’t drawing any kind of significant free agent interest and, well, why would he? Sudfeld has lived more years (26) than he’s thrown NFL pass attempts (25).

But while other teams might not highly value Sudfeld, the Eagles do in that he’s projected to be Wentz’s primary backup in 2020. Yes, the Eagles drafted a quarterback at No. 53 and we’ll get to that shortly. The reality is that Sudfeld’s experience in the team’s system since September 2017 gives him the edge over a rookie lacking offseason reps.

Of course, experience won’t mean much for long if Sudfeld doesn’t actually play well if/when his number is called. He’s still very much an unproven commodity in regular season action. He’s showed some flashes of NFL ability (willingness to throw it deep, mobility, etc.) but can the Eagles really win games with him playing? Ideally the Eagles won’t have to find out as they hope Wentz stays healthy. Sudfeld, meanwhile, will hope to see the field ahead of becoming a free agent again during the 2021 offseason.

JALEN HURTS

The Philadelphia Quarterback Factory shocked just about everyone by selecting Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. We’ve already questioned that decision at length but now that he’s here it’s time to focus on how he fits in.

Shortly after Hurts was drafted, there was talk about the Eagles using him in a “Taysom Hill [package] on steroids.” One source told NFL insider Mike Garafolo that Hurts “WILL be on the field” for the Eagles in 2020 and maybe even “as a straight running back.”

It’s just difficult to believe those reports will prove to be true. Hurts isn’t going to even have a typical offseason to get adjusted to the offense. Sources indicate the Eagles plan to keep things simple for their rookies and having Hurts learn gimmick roles in addition to the quarterback position just doesn’t seem realistic. This isn’t to say the Eagles will NEVER use Hurts in that role; he might be involved in some creative plays over the course of the entire season. It’s just not going to be a major part of the offense.

With Sudfeld ahead of him, Hurts is poised to enter the season as the Eagles’ No. 3 quarterback. He might very well be inactive on game day.

KYLE LAULETTA

It would’ve been interesting to get a first impression of Lauletta in spring practices since we didn’t get to see him at all after he joined the Eagles’ practice squad in September 2019. Lauletta theoretically could’ve pushed for the Eagles’ No. 2 job behind Wentz but now he’s probably only bound to make the practice squad again at best.

Lauletta’s preseason performance from last year keeps me intrigued in his long-term. Maybe he’ll be the No. 3 guy in 2021 with Sudfeld leaving and Hurts moving up to No. 2?

HOW WILL IT PLAY OUT?

I think it’s safe to say that Wentz will be the starter. Sudfeld is primed to be the primary backup. Hurts could be a healthy scratch on game day unless the Eagles truly plan to give him some non-quarterback touches ... which is hard to believe given the lack of a real offseason. Hurts could eventually supplant Sudfeld if the latter struggles or Wentz is out for a long period of time. The Eagles made Lauletta one of the NFL’s highest paid practice squad players last year so I would think they’d like to hold on to him around for another year of development.

WHO COULD BE A SURPRISE CUT?

Had this been a normal offseason, there’s a chance Sudfeld could’ve been cut. The Eagles can clear $1.5 million in cap space with only $500,000 in dead money by releasing or trading him. It’s possible Sudfeld could’ve struggled and/or been really outshined by either Hurts or Lauletta. But that route seems pretty unlikely now.

Poll

On a scale of 1-5, what’s your confidence level in the Eagles’ quarterback position? (5 being the most.)

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    5
    (437 votes)
  • 37%
    4
    (291 votes)
  • 5%
    3
    (40 votes)
  • 0%
    2
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    1
    (7 votes)
779 votes total Vote Now