Now that OTAs have wrapped up, we’re one step closer to the 2022 NFL season. The Eagles have been getting a lot hype as of late, and for good reason. Howie Roseman has completely revamped his roster with legitimate talent on both sides of the ball.
This Eagles team has Super Bowl potential if everything falls into place. One of the biggest factors in this team’s success in 2022 is, of course, the play of Jalen Hurts.
He has all the weapons around him. It’ll be up to him to figure it all out. There’s certainly reason for optimism, but how far should our optimism realistically go is the real question. That’s what I’ll aim to find here.
So without further ado, let’s jump into our first position profile of the year.
Hurts was a better quarterback in 2022 than he was as a rookie. There’s no denying that.
His completion percentage jumped up by about 10% from 52% to 61.2%. His quarterback rating jumped from 77.6 to 87.2. Not to mention, his Pro Football Focus grade increased dramatically, climbing all the way from a 56.2 to a 80.8, placing 14th among 37 qualifying quarterbacks.
Where Hurts really impacted the game last season was with his rushing ability. He led all quarterbacks in rushing yards (784) and rushing touchdowns (10). Granted, Lamar Jackson only played 12 games last season and finished the year 767 rushing yards. Nevertheless, Hurts’ ability to break the pocket and pick up yards with his legs was invaluable to the Eagles offensive success last season.
The Eagles finished the year as the top rushing team in football, accumulating 2,715 yards on the ground. Hurts accounted for 28.9% of that while leading the team in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
While Hurts’ rushing ability was his most valuable skill in 2021, he did improve as a passer as I pointed out above. That’s what really matters here. The next step in Hurts’ evolution will be ditching his reliance on his rushing ability. If utilized correctly and in opportune moments, Hurts’ legs can be even more deadly. His ability to run the ball should be a feather in his cap, rather than the focal point of his game.
For a 23-year-old quarterback entering his first year as the starter, relying on your strengths is to be expected. If his arm talent can approach his rushing talent, the potential is limitless. But that’s a by ‘if.’
We’ve heard nothing but good things out of OTAs in regards to Hurts. Nick Sirianni sang his praises when he spoke with ESPN.
I’m noticing a big difference. What I see is a crisper ball. The accuracy I’ve been very pleased with. You can just see him taking strides every single day with his accuracy because of the fundamentals he has with his feet and his upper body.”Eagles coach Nick Sirianni on Jalen Hurts: ‘I’m noticing a big difference’
How big of a jump can Hurts take in 2022? We’ve seen plenty of signal callers take major leaps in development after their first year as a starter. Hurts’ predecessor, Carson Wentz, was one of them.
If we can pinpoint one thing that we need to see improvement in next season, it would have to be Hurts’ decision making. He has the talent, but far too often, we saw Hurts fail to read a defense and either hold onto the ball too long, or, make an ill-advised throw.
Hurts has some of that ‘hero ball’ that so many fans hated about Wentz in his game, as shown in the clip above. Throw the ball away, live to see another down. It’s a simple concept. Let’s just hope Hurts gets a grasp of that unlike our previous quarterback.
Realistic expectations for Hurts in 2022 are pretty cut and dry.
- Improve the decision making
- A better understanding of how to read a defense
- Less reliance on his legs
If Hurts can do all of that, the Eagles should have an exciting season ahead of them. And it’s not a huge ask, really. All of those improvements are on the mental side of the game. If Hurts is as smart as some claim he is, this shouldn’t be an issue this season.
Depth Behind the Starter
As always, the Eagles have solid depth behind their starting quarterback.
The primary backup will be Gardner Minshew again. He proved last year that he could probably start for at least a few teams around the league. His outing against the Jets last season was the best passing performance we saw from the Eagles in 2021. Minshew completed 20-of-25 passes for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Minshew is entering the final year of his contract. He’ll likely be a hot commodity on the free agency market once next offseason rolls around.
Behind Minshew we have undrafted rookie Carson Strong, who I suspect will beat out Reid Sinnett for the third and final spot on the quarterback depth chart.
Strong was a solid prospect in this year’s NFL Draft. His injury history and debilitating knee issues caused him to slip out of the draft entirely. Still, as a third string signal caller, you could certainly do worse than Strong. Chances are he’ll be the primary backup once Minshew is gone next offseason.