It was not very long ago when we were speaking glowingly about Jalen Hurts’ performance during OTA’s, and it looked like he was going to enter training camp with a lot of positive momentum on his side. That momentum perhaps came to a slight halt last week when long-time acclaimed Eagles reporter Derrick Gunn went on a podcast and suggested that the team may have some reservations about Hurts being their starting quarterback.

Gunn claims a source told him that there was a ten-play stretch during practice in which Hurts “had three picks, four incompletions, and three sacks.” The source followed up by saying Hurts has “a ways to go” in his development. NBC Sports Analyst Barrett Brooks, who was also a part of the podcast, followed up by saying that he had heard the exact same thing.

Eagles players were quick to not only defend Hurts but essentially accuse Gunn of spreading misinformation. A.J. Brown sent two tweets in which he called Gunn’s claim “fake” and then sarcastically mocked it.

Lane Johnson then made it clear whose side he was taking in this.

There is a lot to unpack here. First of all, Gunn is a very well-regarded Eagles reporter with no history of just saying things for attention. He has no reason to lie or embellish stories. On the surface, it does feel hard to believe that Hurts would have ten consecutive bad plays during a light spring practice, but I also can not prove that it did not happen.

It is also pretty predictable that Hurts’ teammates, especially his top wide receiver and right tackle, would come to his defense whether the story is true or not (unless you are Alshon Jeffery). Some have suggested that Brown and Johnson probably were not even at the practice being discussed. Based on the timeline Gunn provides (a 7-on-7 in late May), that would make sense. Overall, I think I have more reason to believe that the practice story is legitimate rather than fake.

Is too much being made of one spring practice? Probably, but the conflicting signs of encouragement versus discouragement regarding Hurts over the course of the summer are interesting less than two weeks before training camp. 

The Eagles have made it very obvious that they think Hurts is upgradable. They tried to trade up for Zach Wilson in 2021, they tried to trade for Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson in March, and their trade with the Saints positioned themselves to move up for a quarterback in the 2023 Draft should they feel the need to. Hurts has a legitimately good supporting cast around him this season with a coaching staff he is used to. He needs to show this year that he is the guy in Philadelphia long-term, or Howie Roseman will not hesitate to replace him next season.

 

 

 

Photo: Heather Khalifa/Philadelphia Inquirer

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