Eagles fans are pretty excited for the 2022 NFL season. And rightfully so! Philadelphia’s front office made a number of significant moves to help improve a roster that was good enough to qualify for the playoffs last season.
One of the biggest remaining concerns, however, has to do with the team’s starting quarterback.
Which, you know, is never ideal.
Until he proves otherwise, the question remains: is Jalen Hurts good enough to be the Eagles’ franchise quarterback? Can he lead them deep in the postseason?
There’s certainly reason to believe the 23-year-old can improve. But it’s also fair to wonder what his ceiling is and if he’s already closer to reaching it than most would like to admit.
Concerns about Hurts don’t appear to be limited to skeptics outside of the organization. Derrick Gunn, who is very plugged in to the team*, had some interesting things to say on this front during a recent appearance on JAKIB Media’s Sports Take alongside Rob Ellis and Barrett Brooks.
GUNN: I know it’s a controlled environment. And, like I tell you guys all the time, I don’t get too hyped about OTAs, minicamp, and even training camp. Because it’s controlled.
But when I asked a few people back in late May about where Jalen Hurts was in his progress, one person said ‘Let me just give you a scenario of what he went through in one day of practice. It’s a 10 play scenario. He had three picks, four incompletions, and three sacks.’ That was his 10 play series, OK.
And I followed up with ‘So what are you thinking?’ And the answer was, the direct answer was: ‘He’s got a ways to go.’ And that’s not very encouraging when you hear all this offseason news [about how] he’s working with this quarterback guru, he’s working on his mechanics, he has a second year in Nick Sirianni’s playbook.
BROOKS: This is OTAs when you heard that?
GUNN: Yes. Yes, this is OTAs.
BROOKS: I hate that you told me that, Gunner, and I don’t want to believe it. And you just said it verbatim so I know you’re not lying to me.
GUNN: Yes. So, you heard the same thing?
BROOKS: Yes, I did.
GUNN: See, OK. So, you know what I’m talking about. And I’ve said this on the record many times: I first and foremost want to see Jalen Hurts succeed because all of the negativism out there surrounding him right now. ‘He sucks.’ You hear more of the ‘he sucks’ than ‘he’s the quarterback, the answer.’ And because of how this young man carries himself, I want to see him succeed because of that.
But I when get this breakdown on him, I’m like, if he’s doing this in a controlled environment, what he’s going to do when he’s got to make decisions in a fraction of a second? Because he’s not going to play much in the preseason. You can forget that.
ELLIS: Not at all. I’m with you. I’ve had this internal struggle because you want this guy to succeed if he’s on your team. He’s that kind of human being, he’s that kind of person. But …
BROOKS: You’re right. I want him to, too.
ELLIS: But …
GUNN: But you see Barrett started smirking? You see? Barrett started smirking because as soon as I said it because he knows what I’m talking about.
ELLIS: This is a J-Lo but.
GUNN: This is a big but. This is a big but with this quarterback.
ELLIS: This is Sir Mix-a-Lot we’re talking about. For my old school people.
BROOKS: A Bertha but.
GUNN: This is a big but with this quarterback, man. And this organization is not very comfortable right now with Jalen Hurts.
Now, there’s a lot of time between now and training camp and the regular season. But, as of right now, the results have been iffy on this guy.
So, let’s unpack some stuff and offer thoughts on this dialogue in bullet point form.
- The timestamp that DGunn provided is worth noting. He said he checked in with his contacts in “late May.” At that point, the Eagles only held one OTA practice at most since their first session was on May 31. Of course, it’s possible that DGunn checked in with his sources again after more OTA practices and the sentiment he heard didn’t change. But perhaps too much is being made of one practice series.
- I think we can all agree it’s hardly the biggest deal if Hurts had a bad OTA practice. It’s not ideal, no, but it’s far from a major issue.
- Hurts had two overall good OTA performances in the two out of six total practices that were open to media. His first of those two was pretty strong throughout while the second started slow but finished stronger. Bleeding Green Nation detailed how Hurts showed “encouraging signs.”
- DGunn’s line about how “this organization is not very comfortable right now with Jalen Hurts” makes me believe the concern is not limited to one bad practice in late May. DGunn doesn’t have a reputation of being hyperbolic and throwing stuff against the wall.
- The idea that the Eagles have reservations about Hurts is hardly far-fetched. The likes of Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni have been very complimentary about him publicly. But you know the saying about ‘Watch what we do, not what we say’? The Eagles had real interest in trading for Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson this offseason. (Neither player wanted to come to Philly.) They acquired Gardner Minshew last year. They gave a big UDFA bonus to quarterback Carson Strong, who many thought was a draftable prospect. They made a trade for a 2023 first-round pick and 2024 second-round pick that gives them ammo to potentially pivot at the QB position next offseason. The totality of these actions hardly screams the team is all in on Hurts. And that’s OK for the time being, it’s not like he’s contract-eligible until after this season. They’re not necessarily committed to him beyond 2022.
- Hurts can obviously silence his doubters by balling out this season. We’ll see if he can rise up to the challenge. The pressure is on as soon as training camp begins in about two weeks.