Jalen Hurts has been thrust into an impossible situation here in Philly.
He’s likely going to be the starting signal caller for the Eagles for the remainder of the season, although Doug Pederson has yet to make that proclamation. The team is already invested in Carson Wentz long-term, with his four-year, $128 million contract extension kicking in next season.
For Hurts to upset the established order and force the organization to stick with him as the starter past these final three games, it would take an extraordinary effort out of the former Heisman runner-up.
Is it fair to Hurts? Absolutely not. But it also wasn’t fair to Wentz that the front office decided to invest a second round pick in his potential replacement, and no one feels bad for him at this point in time. The NFL isn’t fair, it’s a business.
With all that being said, there is a scenario in which Hurts is able to beat out Wentz for the starting job next season.
First off, Hurts would need to win-out. Defeating two playoff teams in New Orleans and Arizona, and then going on to defeat two divisional opponents in a row would be a helluva way to start your career. Winning out would also likely entail a playoff berth for the Eagles.
Washington currently has the division lead, but with Seattle on the schedule for them this weekend, they could very well lose a bit of their lead with a loss there. They’ll run into the Birds in the final week of the season, and if everything goes according to plan, that game would be for the NFC East crown.
Going 3-0 down the stretch would obviously entail that Hurts played well. He’ll need to have better throwing performances in these final three games as well. He wasn’t particularly good as a passer in last Sunday’s win over the Saints.
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According to Pro Football Focus, Hurts finished Sunday’s game with a 40.9 passing grade, the second-worst grade given to an Eagles quarterback this season. He dropped back a total of 36 times, with 15 of those drop backs having some sort of play action element to them. A lot of Hurts best throwing plays came against a busted coverage by the Saints, and with the mixture of all the RPOs, Hurts was rarely asked to go through any progressions in the passing game.
Now that defenses have 60 minutes worth of game film on Hurts, it’s imperative that Pederson and his coaching staff prepare Hurts for the new looks he’s going to get. Hurts will need to broaden his passing capabilities a little bit and be effective on more intricate route combinations, too.
Again, we all know this a tough ask for a rookie quarterback. But this is the kind of stuff we’ll need to see if we’re going to give up on Wentz after one bad season and turn to this guy.