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Weapon X Mailbag: What does Jalen Hurts need to prove to became the franchise quarterback?

Plus: Why isn’t Sirianni more creative?

Los Angeles Chargers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Dolphins really screwed us, huh? Well, it’s Friday at least (it’s raining and disgusting out in Philly).

If you have a question for a future mailbag, you can tweet at me or email bleedingggreeninfo at gmail dot com.

@nzect24: With eight games left in the season, what does Jalen Hurts need to do to prove he’s the guy to build the team around? (I don’t think it’s likely but if he can build off of Sunday, throw with more anticipation and keep his eyes downfield I think he has a real chance.)

It feels more likely than not that a quarterback other than Jalen Hurts is the Eagles’ 2022 Week 1 starter. Even if Hurts doesn’t improve exponentially, I would be okay rolling with him next year. The 2022 quarterback draft class is NOT doing it for me. The Eagles may have two top-10 picks, but I wouldn’t want to use them on one of these quarterbacks. MAYBE Matt Corral is legit, but I’m completely out on everyone else.

My plans A, B and C this offseason would be to send draft capital (and perhaps Hurts himself) to Seattle for Russell Wilson. I may be the only person out there who covets Wilson more than Howie Roseman. If Hurts balls out the rest of 2021, Roseman is still going to go balls-out to get Wilson in midnight green.

If a Wilson deal doesn’t come to fruition, I’m okay rolling with Hurts again next year. The worst thing this team could do is force a quarterback pick on a dude who may not be The Guy and set the franchise’s path towards contention back more. Hurts was a better collegiate quarterback than all of these projected first-round picks. I could even see Roseman dealing one of these 2022 first for a 2023 first to keep that future quarterback optionality going. Still, use these high picks to improve a depleted roster around Hurts and see if Hurts can take a leap in his second year as QB1 and make a playoff run.

Now, what can Hurts do to make you confident about him running the show in 2022 and convince the organization overall that it would be foolish to move away from him?

Captain Obvious statement incoming: he needs to improve as a passer. Hot take alert! Hurts needs to up his completion percentage, which is currently at 61.5 percent (it was at 52.0 percent as a rookie). Carson Wentz wasn’t some uber accurate quarterback while in Philadelphia, only completing 64.4 percent of his passes during his three-year peak from 2017-2019, but Hurts getting closer to the mid-60s would be huge for his development as a pro passer.

Hurts establishing himself as the franchise quarterback isn’t a statistical benchmark thing to me. It’s a feeling. It’s a vibe. It’s an understanding that everyone involved with this franchise is putting everything behind this guy. The Eagles came out throwing a ton early this season likely with the intention of seeing how Hurts could handle being the guy in the pass-heavy offense the organization ideally wants to be. They now have rapidly upped the run game, which suits Hurts as a passer and has unfortunately lessen his opportunities to establish himself a passer. Part of that for sure falls on him for his early struggles though.

Maybe it’s a situation where Hurts creates greater chemistry with the two skill position building blocks in DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert and then Birds find themselves in a race for the final playoff spot in a weak NFC. I can dream!

He needs to stay in the pocket a tad longer. He needs to showcase the deep ball he threw as a rookie. He obviously has the intangibles to be an amazing leader and a franchise quarterback, but he desperately needs the skills to match that level over the next eight games. Hurts isn’t Lamar Jackson, but let’s get things closer to the Baltimore offense, yeah? Cater to him and see what he can truly do.

Quick cheat sheet for Hurts:

- Up the accuracy.

- Unleash the deep ball with authority.

- Aid Smith and Goedert’s development into stars.

- Win some damn games and fight for your playoff life.

- Continue illustrating your ability to pick up high-leverage first downs with your legs.

I will leave you with one optimistic note about Hurts:

@Andy_from_BL (via Twitter DM): Usually the rep of younger guys is that they’ll be more creative in their approach. But Nick Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon are about as anti-creativity as they can be - and they’re getting blown up because of it. Why are they so adverse to things like motion on O and disguised coverages on D? When will they give up their hubris?

I wrote about it in a mailbag earlier in the week: Jonathan Gannon’s defense is a disastrous mix of poor scheme and subpar players. They are the most vanilla defense in the league. It’s agonizing to watch opposing quarterbacks feast over and over again. Gannon’s players may not have the requisite talent to dial up disguised blitzes and coverages, but Gannon the coach is doing those players few favors.

As for Nick Sirianni, it’s been a thoroughly disappointing offense. The rationale for hiring a young, albeit inexperienced, coach to run your team and offense is the assumption that they’re on the cutting edge of the next great football philosophies. Teams want to find the next Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan. Sirianni certainly isn’t those guys. I discussed Hurts’ struggles above. That plays a role, as does the lack of development for players like Jalen Reagor. Again, this is a situation where a lackluster scheme combines can’t elevate okay players into great players.

Not great!