The term franchise quarterback can be a paradox of sorts. In fact since the beginning of time; or at least the early ages of football the position as a whole could be considered an enigma. Teams invest in what could be considered a Pandora’s box, ultimately putting the fate of their franchise in the hands of the unknown. Sure teams have scouts and scouts work hard, there is no doubt about that but scouts are human. Which means like many of us they are prone to mistakes. Mistakes, like a Dak Prescott or Patrick Mahomes; but make no mistake despite the great quarterbacks the two aforementioned players have grown to become, as prospects both had their fair share of questions surrounding them. For Prescott, many questioned his accuracy in the intermediate and deep areas, as well as his mechanics such as footwork and him being a bit of an ‘arm thrower’. As for Mahomes, well he played what many like to call back yard football a bit too much for scouts liking, doing most of his damage in off structured plays.
Well as stated these two went on to become two of the best quarterbacks the league has to offer at this moment. This is much thanks to the hard work and behind the scenes efforts these two young men have put forward, but it is no secret that franchise investment will take you a long way. As I always state investment is something that starts from the top with the owner and works its way down to the 53rd man in the locker room. This is probably the one thing that many of your favorite ‘franchise quarterbacks’ have in common, stability for lack of better term. Well, all but maybe that guy located in Wisconsin but who knows how that will turn out. Anyway, so all this talk of just investing in a player, is it that easy?
Well, this is where things start to get a bet complicated; as we’ve said before this is a two way street, which means both sides play an evenly impactful role of where things go along the lines.
I once asked asked who was more responsible for the career trajectory of Carson Wentz? Was it Doug Pederson, who outside of the miraculous 2017 season — often made it seem like with Wentz he was trying to stuff square pegs in round holes, running an offense that Wentz was either uncomfortable in or never liked? Or was it Howie Roseman, who shoulders more than his fair share of blame for the collapse of the previous regime; whether it be missed drafted picks or inadequate free agent signings. However, there was clearly a third option that by the way of Carson Wentz himself. If 2020 wasn’t enough for you look no further than the meltdown Wentz had versus Jacksonville to end the 2021 season. Even after Philadelphia traded him to his hand picked request reuniting him with former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, as Teddy Bruschi would say ‘Wentz will find a way’. None of this is to say that Wentz was the complete dumpster fire he was in 2020, in fact it was the complete opposite as he saw himself have a bounce back year of sorts. This is just to say sometimes a player is as good as they allow themselves to be.
To be fair though, destiny is real, and each and every player has their own story to write, some happier than others. That’s j just the risk you take playing this dangerous game we love so much. It’s what makes each contract so valuable, each game so precious, and each play even more special than the last; because you generally never know when or where the course of your career is set to change. All this talks makes you wonder, in an alternate universe could if the ACL tear never happened, with his 2017 trajectory would Carson Wentz be on path for a Josh Allen-esque career arc? I think we all wonder that.
Man… Josh Allen is what we were hopin Carson could be.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 16, 2022
Just saying that the Eagles set the mold of draft young quarterback (see worth), acquire him a legit WR1 at the start of his second season, and play dominant defense that both the Bills and Bears followed. The only difference is Buffalo perfected the mold.
Enough of that though, what about the current quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles — who seems to have the polar opposite effect of Wentz in so many ways. There are no reports of locker room rifts; in fact it sounds as if Hurts is universally loved around the Novacare Complex (maybe some of that franchise investment we discussed earlier). Clearly Roseman has learned from his past mistakes and up until this point hasn’t tried to shortcut the rebuild the second time around.
‘Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’
With a plethora of young foundational pieces along the offense and three first round picks to match the $13 million the team has in cap space to possibly sure up the defense, once again its always sunny in Philadelphia. With the leagues number one rushing attack already in house, only time will tell what the future has in store for Philadelphia right?
The Jalen Hurts debate is very interesting.
One thing that can’t be denied: He has improved each year
Alabama -> Oklahoma
Oklahoma -> Rookie Year
Rookie Year -> Second Year
I don’t know what his ceiling is. But there is a real track record of improvement #Eagles
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) January 18, 2022
Well… in case you forgot (pretty sure you haven’t) the Eagles just played a playoff game. And… it wasn’t pretty. Todd Bowles made Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts look like the first time playoff troopers they were. However, what if the final score was only a mere illusion lost in the real lesson set in place? That lesson being, what if the Eagles offense is capped out? Of course with so many young players and capital heading into the off-season there is so much room left for improvement with this roster. However the Ringer’s , Benjamin Solak recently produced an excellent piece that raised some valuable points about the legitimacy of an Hurts-led Eagles team for the foreseeable future.
Solak actually raises a valuable point here, so let’s look into the future a bit; the Eagles already feature the leagues best running attack with second year Hurts accounting for about 29% of the rushing totals as the teams leading rusher. Let’s assume Hurts takes the next step as a passer, which improvement is surely to follow because for one, Hurts has improved as a passer every year since his freshman year. But two, Hurts hasn’t had the chance to operate the same offense in four consecutive seasons now. Having the chance to get a second full off-season under his belt under the tutelage of the same head coach will do wonders for Hurt’s progression.
A great running game can take a team a long way as shown by the 2021-22 Philadelphia Eagles. That said in an offense predicated off the run, in a scheme built on making use of the numbers advantage using your quarterback as the unaccounted for player in many circumstances, with a quarterback that certainly has questions surrounding his arm talent how far can you actually go? There is a legitimate chance that under Hurts the Eagles could develop into a consistent 10-12 win team but when its time for the playoffs how much would Philadelphia be able to trust in their signal caller?
Ahh the century long battle that you have to have a productive pocket passer to win in the playoffs, even though Russell Wilson has multiple Super Bowl appearances and a ring to match. The question is fair however look no further than down Baltimore Pike, where the Ravens are presented with this same dilemma. There is no disputing that both Hurts and Jackson withhold a special skill set, as seen by them becoming the only two quarterbacks to lead their team in rushing yards this season. Which makes it no surprise that when their franchises committed to their run heavy approach during both players first season as a full time starter, the teams went on to have historic years in terms of what they did running the football. While the Ravens approach may be at bit more advanced when you take into account how much of the offense bases from inverted veer concepts because Greg Roman is a mad scientist when it comes to coordinating a run game, how ever Jeff Stoutland is clearly no slouch either. G/T counter’s, typical zone read plays, buck sweeps, and any other concept he could find to keep the defense off balance utilizing the skill set of the quarterback. Yet despite so much damage these squads can do in the run game, there are plenty of questions surrounding the passing game. Both teams seem to run a plethora of flood concepts due to both personnel and ideologies (please don’t get me started on Greg Romans ‘elementary’ passing concepts). But in the playoffs when teams start to key in on what you generally like to do and take that away, how comfortable would teams that operate this run heavy approach be with getting out of their comfort zone? Of course sometimes the guys up front would be just too much for some opponents. But in the case of a blitz happy guy like a Bowles, Fangio, or Flores that would send everything but the kitchen sink at you and makes your mobile quarterback basically a non-factor (because with the extra defenders he’s now accounted for in the run game), what do you do?
Even with that being said, at some point you have to ask yourself what is my football team? Are we pass happy enough to put the ball in our quarterbacks hands to win each game? Do we have a sound enough defense to play ball control football down the stretch of important football games if we can’t? And most importantly does said quarterback not only give me a legitimate chance to win week after week but makes my football team a contender based on what he brings to it? If Philadelphia can’t look themselves in the mirror and wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment then does this put them in any better of a position they were previously? The importance of the position itself is why many teams are in mediocrity because in this league quarterbacks are like air, everybody needs one and will do whatever it takes to get one.
Hurts believes his potential is limitless, his cap has no ceiling; well for Philadelphia’s sake they better hope he’s right. While his 2021 season has certainly earned Hurts the right to lead this team heading into the 2022 season, and like many I honestly believe he is in line to take the next step based on everything he’s shown up until this point. Yet, no one truly knows what to expect because stranger things have happened right?