Jalen Hurts is a superstar. His face now graces the cover of Sports Illustrated.
He signed a five-year, $255 million contract with the Eagles in the offseason, symbolic of the organization’s belief in him not just as the Eagles’ franchise quarterback but also in his character.

Hurts’ lock screen on his phone is him walking off the field in Arizona after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII in February. The Eagles’ quarterback room will benefit Hurts in getting back to the promised land and hopefully winning this time. 

Hurts has undoubtedly demonstrated over his three years in Philadelphia that he is the Eagles’ franchise quarterback. His first season in the NFL was a roller coaster ride, which he dealt with extremely well, especially as a rookie. As Eagles’ starting quarterback Carson Wentz struggled mightily, Hurts played a Taysom Hill role to change up the pace of the Eagles’ offense. Then, as Wentz went 3-8-1 in 12 starts and continued to struggle, Hurts started in four games, going 1-3. 

The Eagles went a disappointing 4-11-1 in the 2020 regular season, missing the playoffs and finishing last in an NFC East won by a 7-9 Washington team. Questions loomed as to whether Hurts or Wentz would be the franchise quarterback for the Eagles going forward, questions which ultimately drove a wedge between head coach Doug Pederson and the Eagles’ front office. Pederson wanted Hurts, but GM Howie Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie wanted to keep Wentz. Well, the Eagles’ front office fired Pederson. And the front office dealt Wentz to the Colts. And Hurts ended up being the Eagles’ QB1. 

With Pederson out the door, the Eagles’ front office brought in Nick Sirianni, the Colts’ offensive coordinator. In Indy, Sirianni worked under former Eagles’ offensive coordinator Frank Reich and worked with three starting quarterbacks: Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, and Philip Rivers. As the Colts’ offensive coordinator, Sirianni helped lead the Colts to the playoffs twice. Under Sirianni, Hurts has gone 22-8 in the regular season while going 2-2 in the playoffs. And Hurts has improved in each of his three NFL seasons, coming up just short of winning the Super Bowl and the regular season MVP in the 2022-23 NFL season. Hurts lost to Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes both times. This year, the Eagles’ quarterback room may lead Hurts to winning a Lombardi Trophy and a regular season MVP award. 

Marcus Mariota

Though Minshew Mania is absent from the quarterback room, the Eagles signed veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota in the offseason. Mariota has yet to perform to his standards this summer, completing just 16 of 28 passes for 144 yards and an interception in two preseason games. What Mariota does have is the experience of starting for the Titans, the Raiders, and most recently, the Falcons. Over the course of his NFL career, Mariota has started, been benched, played in the playoffs, and been cut. This season marks Mariota’s ninth year in the NFL. Mariota’s invaluable insight into what NFL life is like, specifically as a quarterback, is worth far more than the one-year, $5 million deal he signed with Philadelphia in the offseason.

As Jalen Hurts develops fresh off an MVP-runner-up season, Mariota’s priceless experiences will be crucial to taking Hurts to the next level physically and mentally. Mariota is not paid to play as a younger version of himself. Mariota is not paid to compete for the starting job. He is paid to mentor Hurts and take over the offense in a pinch if necessary. And despite Mariota’s poor play, his presence in the locker room equates to another quarterbacks coach being around Jalen. 

Tanner McKee

In addition, the Eagles’ front office drafted Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee with the 188th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The pick seemed an afterthought to many fans, as most sixth-round quarterbacks tend to be, with the exception of Tom Brady, who the New England Patriots selected with the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. During the summer, McKee has played much better than a mere afterthought. 

McKee’s strong play in camp and in the preseason has placed him right in the middle of the conversation to backup Jalen Hurts. In two preseason games, McKee has completed 20 of 38 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown. Several of McKee’s eighteen completions were placed right in the hands of his receivers but were dropped.

McKee will in no way be competing for Hurts’ job this fall, but he is making a case to be Hurts’ backup. And if McKee can further develop and keep up the strong play he has exhibited in camp and the preseason, the Eagles may be able to deal McKee for future draft picks or a valuable veteran in the middle of the regular season. Many teams will likely be in situations in which they are a McKee away from the playoffs midway through the season. 

Ian Book

And then there is the Eagles’ fourth quarterback, Ian Book, who once shined at Notre Dame. The Eagles claimed Book off waivers on August 31st, 2022, after the Saints cut him one day earlier. Book was the Eagles’ third-string quarterback last year, though he did not play a single snap in the regular season.

In Book’s preseason debut for the Eagles against the Baltimore Ravens this summer, he completed one of four passes for 11 yards. In a quarterback room filled with talent, those numbers are not going to get Book very far. The NFL recently ruled that teams will be able to have three quarterbacks suit up on game day this season.

And right now, McKee and Mariota look to lock down the 2 and 3 spots in interchangeable order. 

Regardless of where Book ends up, the Eagles’ 2023 quarterback room will no doubt benefit Jalen Hurts’ development. Hurts can pick Mariota’s brain about life in the NFL and the quarterback position, and he can enhance his leadership qualities through mentoring rookie Tanner McKee.

An even better Jalen Hurts is on the way, thanks to moves made by the front office to surround Hurts with mentors and mentees.

Will these moves bring Philly a Lombardi Trophy?
Time will tell. And the clock is ticking. 

Photo: Philadelphia Eagles

Comments are closed.

Check Also

A Time to Deliver

The Eagles Have Earned An A Draft Grade, Signed Free Agents, and Extended Key Veterans.Now…