There were a few ways to watch the NFL’s two playoff games Sunday, the two games that have had the whole football-loving world buzzing ever since. One way, if you were a Buffalo Bills fan, was to ricochet from joy to horror to ecstasy to complete heartbreak. Another way was to sit back, be an engaged and overjoyed observer of the sport, and marvel at the performances of the four quarterbacks: the Rams’ Matthew Stafford, the Buccaneers’ Tom Brady, the Bills’ Josh Allen, and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes. All of them were, to varying degrees, great, and they made Sunday a pure pleasure from start to finish.

But there was another way to watch those games. You could watch them with an eye toward the other teams in the league, or perhaps to one team in particular, to the team you follow most closely. Around here, that team, of course, is the Eagles, and you could watch those games and compare the Eagles to the four teams playing in those games. You could even picture the Eagles’ coaches and players and decision-makers making those same comparisons. What do those teams have that we don’t?

I picture Jalen Hurts watching those games Sunday, and I picture him saying to himself, Damn, I can’t wait to get back at it. I can’t wait for another shot at the postseason.

I picture Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman watching those same games, and I picture them scared to death.

Can Jalen do that?

Take a step back from the excitement and offensive fireworks displays of Rams-Bucs and Chiefs-Bills, and maybe the most intriguing game of the weekend, and the most complicating one, took place Saturday night at Lambeau Field. The 49ers beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, 13-10, and it was the one example that cuts against the conventional wisdom around the league, the wisdom that the Eagles themselves usually follow: The best method for building a roster capable of winning a Super Bowl, the method that eliminates most of a team’s margin for error, is to find and/or develop an elite quarterback.

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Rodgers is an elite quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo is not. Yet the Packers are home for the winter, and the 49ers, thanks to their superior defense and special teams, are going to the NFC championship game. These are the kinds of caveats to conventional thinking that drive owners, general managers, coaches, and fans crazy. Everyone wants a simple answer to a complex question, and for the Eagles, that question is more complex than it is for most teams.

For anyone who paid close attention to the Eagles and Hurts this season, it was impossible to watch Sunday’s games, see the plays that Stafford, Brady, Allen, and Mahomes were making, and think, Yeah, Hurts can do that. Maybe he’ll improve over time, but there were too many instances this season that suggested he won’t reach that level, too many instances in which his reads were late or his arm wasn’t quite strong enough to make the sorts of throws that appear routine to those four quarterbacks.

If the Eagles’ recent history is any reliable indication, Lurie and Roseman were noticing the same thing. From Donovan McNabb to Carson Wentz, they’ve done their best to find and commit to a franchise quarterback — one who, they believe, can make them great and keep them great for a long time. And since Roseman presumably didn’t put his hand atop a Bible before telling reporters last week that Hurts would be the team’s starter next season, it should be no surprise that the Eagles have been and will be mentioned as a possible destination for Russell Wilson, should the Seahawks try to trade him.

» READ MORE: The Eagles have enough to make an informed decision on Jalen Hurts’ future

Despite Wilson’s age (33) and Seattle’s regression this season to 7-10, he remains one of the league’s top quarterbacks. It doesn’t take much to envision Lurie and Roseman calculating that the Eagles will never approach a championship unless they have a quarterback like Stafford, Brady, Allen, or Mahomes, and since they can’t acquire one of those guys, they’ll pursue the next-best thing.

Not that simple

The 49ers’ success with Garoppolo, though, muddies the waters. Because his salary-cap hit is a reasonable one for a veteran QB ($26.4 million this season), the Niners have been better able to build an excellent roster around him — a roster strong enough to make up for his shortcomings. That’s the catch when it comes to “franchise quarterbacks” in the NFL. It’s not necessarily enough to find one, pay him like one, and assume all will be well. Unless a QB on his rookie contract is playing like an All-Pro — like Mahomes did for a while, like Wentz did in 2017 — there’s a sliding scale of risk/reward for any team.

So: If the Eagles were to stick with Hurts, who will count just $1.92 million against their cap next season, can they draft well enough and sign/trade for enough good players to build an elite team around him? Will he improve so much that he becomes a bargain at his price? If the Eagles decide to go after Wilson, will the combination of players and draft picks required to get him leave them unable, or at least less likely, to surround him with enough talent to take full advantage of his excellence?

Again, nothing about this is simple or easy. Stafford spent 12 fruitless years in Detroit. Brady was a sixth-round pick. Allen was a wild stallion coming out of college, thought to be too inaccurate a passer to thrive in the NFL. Mitch Trubisky was drafted eight spots before Mahomes. Finding a franchise quarterback is difficult enough, let alone winning a Super Bowl once you have one. If I were the Eagles, I’d bring back Hurts, give him the opportunity to continue improving, and evaluate him after the 2022 season. But watching those games Sunday, it was hard not to fall in love all over again with the potential and promise of what an elite quarterback can do. For Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman, it was probably even harder.