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Why the Eagles Want Jalen Hurts to Fail

As Eagles fans dreamed of which top offensive weapon their team would choose at 6th overall, Howie Roseman had other thoughts on his mind. The debate between Jamarr Chase or Kyle Pitts turned out to be all for naught as the team first “allegedly” tried to trade up for QB Zach Wilson and then ended up trading back to pick number 12 while adding an additional 1st round pick in 2022 from the Dolphins. 

After trading back, there is much talk about how the Eagles are trusting Jalen Hurts as their quarterback this season. This isn’t much of an endorsement as they openly tried to use the majority of the draft capital they had, not on drafting talent at the many holes they have on both sides of the ball, but instead on trading up 4 spots to take a QB. 

Unlike Jalen Hurts, Wilson has only one good year of play under his belt and never came close to competing against top talent. Hurts continuously played and practiced against the best defenses college football could offer in his time at Alabama and Oklahoma, where he was in the Heisman talk during both of his stints on campus. Wilson has never seen the speed, talent, and depth that SEC defenses, primarily Alabama, roll out each and every week. Despite all of this, “allegedly” Roseman would prefer to bypass the QB he took in the 2nd round last year to once again take the next popular quarterback prospect. 

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Jalen Hurts looked really solid considering that he barely had a functioning offensive line and no legitimate weapons at receiver. However, with this trade back it seems that they are setting themselves to have the draft capital to trade up to a top spot in next year’s draft. They currently have two first round picks locked in, their own and the Dolphins. They also have a second-round pick from the Colts that turns into a first-round pick instead if Carson Wentz plays 75% of the offensive snaps or he plays 70% and the Colts make the playoffs. If Roseman had the capital to trade up to the 3rd pick, it seems pretty clear he would have (“allegedly”). He has ensured he will have the ability to do so next year.

That’s not faith in Jalen Hurts, that’s conceding that you can’t do what you really want so you’ll accept having to feed him to the wolves for a season in order to get the outcome you want. It seems strange that Roseman liked Hurts enough to spend a 2nd round pick on him, instead of on a corner or a lineman, which led to an angry fanbase. Fast forward a year and the opposite is now the case, the fans seem to be in favor of Hurts whereas Howie Roseman doesn’t see him as the next Eagles franchise QB or even a QB who deserves a fair chance. 

This may seem harsh, but it will be undeniable come April 29th if the Eagles trade back once again in favor of adding to a stockpile of picks or if they stay put at 12th and draft a position on the defensive side of the ball.

If they’re able to select Jaylen Waddle or possibly a sliding Devonta Smith at 12, then it will be shrewd maneuvering by Howie. Even if he doesn’t believe Jalen Hurts is the guy moving forward to build around, at least you’re doing what you can to actually find out for sure. However, if they choose to add a corner or a defensive end it will be setting up Hurts for failure. Despite both of those positions being real needs for the Eagles, nether position surrounds Hurts with talent this year. 

Why do I think Howie Roseman, who appeared to believe in Jalen Hurts more than anyone else by drafting him in the 2nd round last year, no longer believes in him?

The entire QB situation did not play out like he, or anyone else could have possibly imagined in the past 11 months. Let’s first look at why Howie drafted him at all. In the post-draft aftermath last year, Roseman frequently referred to the draft in which the Eagles drafted Nick Foles, but passed up on Russel Wilson. There was much talk in the draft room about selecting Wilson as well, but instead they went in a different direction. He regretted passing up on a talented QB when he was available for a lesser pick. This time around, Roseman was hoping to have Hurts on the roster in case Wentz was not able to bypass the injury bug moving forward. The Eagles could have their starting QB go down and still be able to compete. Even if Wentz was healthy, Howie was banking on the fact that his play would not drastically decline (can’t fault him for that) and that Hurts could be showcased situationally and would look great in their system. In a position of QB abundance, the Eagles could offload Hurts for a top pick and take another overlooked quarterback. 

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Instead, none of this is what ended up happening. Jalen Hurts was never expected to “the guy” ever, let alone just a year after getting drafted. Filling in for injury is one thing, to build the entire roster around him is quite another. Some other team was supposed to pay quite handsomely for the privilege of doing that. He was selected as an insurance policy that could hopefully be flipped in the future for a nice pick. Wentz could get hurt and Hurts could still allow them to compete at a high level without looking like Josh McCown. Wasn’t the 2nd round pick too high for an insurance policy? Not at quarterback and the thinking was probably something along the lines of:

  1. Receiver: We drafted Jalen Reagor the day before to add to a health Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson. Plus we have Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
  2. Offensive Line: Andre Dillard will emerge as the starting left tackle, next to Pro-Bowl talent in Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson. And who knows, maybe bring back Jason Peters to play guard?
  3. Secondary: With a healthy Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, plus the signing of Nickell Robey-Coleman, we’ll be okay.

So, the Eagles were in a good spot to spend a 2nd round pick on a guy that hopefully wouldn’t really be needed. Instead, Roseman played himself into a position where he ended up trading Wentz for possibly a late 1st round pick or a 2nd round pick and in the process took a massive cap hit charge this offseason. The team went from no cap room because they were paying under-performing players to overpaying people who aren’t even on the team anymore. Howie’s goal to have a QB factory took the Eagles from a reloading phase to a complete rebuild.

The Eagles depth chart at receiver is currently Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, and Travis Fulgham. Both Ward and Fulgham are players that were on the practice squad. Roseman had the chance, and still does, to add receiver depth via free agency but does not appear to be interested in doing so. That’s acceptable if it will be adequately addressed come the draft, but if Roseman’s plan is to send out Jalen Hurts to play quarterback with a 2nd year receiver coming off a disappointing rookie season and two practice squad players, then hopefully Hurts will find another team who will give him a fair chance surrounded by legitimate NFL talent. 

A couple of other teams are in similar situations with their quarterbacks and I believe they will be handling it quite differently. Look at the Dolphins who traded with the Eagles to get back up to the 6th spot. It seems pretty clear that they did so in order to draft a non-quarterback, otherwise they would have stayed put at 3 or even traded up to ensure they did not miss out on their guy. Instead they trade back to 12 with the 49ers and then give up some capital to get back up to 6th overall. It seems like they’re trading back up to take either Parsons or Jamarr Chase. Either way, the Dolphins already have talent around Tua including Devonta Parker and Mike Gesicki and they signed free agent receiver Will Fuller. If they bring in Jamarr Chase on top of that then they’re going above and beyond to give Tua everything he could ask for to succeed. Without a doubt, they will get a good look at Tua this year to know whether or not he’s the guy to build around or if they need to address the QB position in April 2022. 

Another example is the Jets with Sam Darnold. We project that they will not take a QB 2nd overall and instead will look to trade back and possibly take another offensive weapon like Kyle Pitts or Jamarr Chase or add to the offensive line with Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater.  This is in addition to keeping Jamison Crowder, selecting Denzel Mims in last year’s draft, and signing free agent Corey Davis. We also believe that they could be in on trading for Zach Ertz prior to the draft. Seems like they’re going to be giving Darnold true support around him in order to get a real look at whether or not he’s the QB for the future. If he is, they can pick up his 5th option to look at how well he does in a 2nd season under Robert Saleh or give him a full extension. If not, they will have the draft capital from moving back from the 2nd spot in order to move up to get their QB of the future in the 2022 draft. 

A final example is their division rival New York Giants and their treatment of Daniel Jones. After already having Saquon Barkley returning from injury, Evan Engram at tight end, and two solid receivers in Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, they decided to invest in even more offensive talent. They landed the biggest receiver on the free agent market in Kenny Golladay and added speedster John Ross III to help take the top of opposing secondaries. Their offensive line is still an issue and seems like their committed to addressing it in the draft, possibly with the 11th pick overall. Nate Solder is also returning from opting out in 2020 and they’re hoping that first round pick last year Andrew Thomas can improve on a season in which his PFF score was a 62.4. They have given everything Daniel Jones could have imagined and then some, so this is the year that will determine his future. The Giants will know exactly what they need to do at QB at the end of the 2021 season, either begin to prepare for an extension for Jones or look to the draft for their next signal caller. 

These teams seem set to get a true look at the QB talent already on their roster. The Eagles need to bring in the talent, especially at receiver, in order to do the same unless the fix is already in and they’re fully committed to bringing in a new QB next season. I do believe that there is a solid chance that the Eagles take their newly acquired draft capital from Miami to move up to the Jets 2nd spot to draft Zach Wilson.

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