Once a franchise’s campaign ends, the speculation begins. That statement rings true for every team in every sport. For the Philadelphia Eagles this off-season, the hot topic will involve Jalen Hurts and his role with the team.
During a media availability Wednesday, general manager Howie Roseman unsurprisingly committed to Hurts as the team’s starting quarterback for the 2022 season. Head Coach Nick Sirianni also expressed confidence in the young quarterback stating, “There are no secrets there. He knows he’s our guy.” For now, planning to go with Hurts is the right decision to make. However, a lot can change from now and the start of training camp.
Commitment to Jalen Hurts a Good Call by Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts in 2021
In his first full season as the Eagles starting quarterback, the 23-year-old Hurts produced a league-average campaign. Playing in 15 games, Hurts completed 265 of 432 pass attempts for 3,144 yards, averaging 209.6 passing yards per game. Tossing 16 touchdowns, Hurts led two game-winning drives, increasing his image as a player that knows how to win. Of course, some blunders occurred throughout the year, as he threw nine interceptions.
A dynamic weapon on the football field, Hurts experienced a bounty of success keeping the ball in his own hands. He rushed the ball for 784 yards on 139 attempts, averaging 52.3 yards per game. Additionally, Hurts set a franchise record for a quarterback with 10 rushing touchdowns. In a league where a quarterback’s ability to run the ball is at its highest value, Hurts ranked among the NFL’s elite.
Unfortunately, in his first experience playing postseason football, Hurts underperformed. He completed 23 of his 43 passing attempts for 258 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He connected for a 35-yard pass but consistently failed to establish a rhythm. His running game also struggled, managing just 39 yards on eight attempts.
Still very early into his NFL career, Hurts displayed clear strengths and weaknesses throughout the 2021 season. Although he can drastically impact a game with his legs, his performance as a passer and decision-maker still needs work.
Committing to Hurts is the Right Choice
In his comments to the media Wednesday, Roseman made the right move committing to Jalen Hurts as the Eagles starting quarterback next season. A transition year for the franchise, Hurts played a significant role in the team’s overachieving and making the postseason. Yes, considering Philadelphia’s level of competition during the second half of the season may damper the mood surrounding this accomplishment. Still, no one expected the Eagles to make the playoffs in 2021.
Postseason appearance aside, Roseman’s stock as a GM has a lot riding on the young quarterback’s success. One cannot forget the controversial decision to select Hurts 53rd-overall in 2020, eventually leading to the end of Carson Wentz’s tenure in Philadelphia. Associating Wentz’s fall from grace with the Eagles drafting Hurts is far from a stretch, but all will be forgotten as long as Hurts turns into the franchise quarterback Roseman believes he can.
Additionally, categorizing Hurts as a “league average” quarterback in his rookie season is the opposite of an insult. Already in the middle of the pack, the future appears potentially promising. Hurts’s price tag also screams, “give him another chance.” In a league where starting quarterbacks typically cost a fortune, Philadelphia has Hurts under contract for under $1.1 million for the 2022 season and $1.3 million in 2023. Dedicating a small amount of cap space to the quarterback position allows Roseman the luxury of committing money elsewhere, hoping to build up the roster around Hurts, providing him more weapons, and increasing his chance of success.
For a team still technically in “rebuild” mode, going out and grabbing a short-term fix at quarterback makes little sense, especially when you have the potential long-term solution already on the roster.
Of course, a general manager always wants to build a roster that gives the team the best chance to win. Even when taking the long-term approach, unavoidable opportunities occasionally arise. Imagine that acquiring Russell Wilson becomes a realistic possibility. With the draft capital the team currently possesses, Philadelphia may be in a position to bring in the elite-level quarterback, placing them in a position to win sooner than later. A lot of uncertainty surrounding Hurts and his ceiling remains. There is no question regarding what Wilson provides a team, making acquiring him a legitimate reason for Roseman to back out of his original proclamation.
For the Eagles, another interesting off-season lies ahead. Though a lot can happen, the organization can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that starting quarterback is not its most pressing issue.
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