If you like symbolism in your Eagles quarterback controversies, the closing minutes of their 33-26 loss Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals was for you. It wasn’t quite fourth-and-26, wasn’t quite Donovan McNabb finding Freddie Mitchell to save the season in a playoff game, but again, the symbolism worked.
First third-and-21, then fourth-and-21, and Jalen Hurts threw a pair of perfect passes to Dallas Goedert. On each play, the Cardinals’ coverage was shrink-wrap tight, and Goedert would have had to make a great catch, and he didn’t. But the moment wasn’t too big for Hurts. He needed to make a throw, and he made it, and he needed to make another throw, and he made that one, too. And when the Eagles got the ball back with miles to go and no timeouts to help them get there, he completed one pass to Travis Fulgham on fourth down for a first down, had Haason Reddick knock the ball out of his hands only to pick it up and scramble and throw to Goedert for 15 yards, and completed another pass to Fulgham for 18 yards and a few desperate shots at the end zone.
Look, there’s a natural curve on which any backup quarterback gets graded, especially a young backup quarterback who was highly drafted, especially a young backup quarterback who has — for the time being and perhaps longer — replaced a starter who was playing terribly, especially a young backup quarterback in a city that loves its backup quarterbacks. So yes, give Hurts that curve, but give him this, too: He was good Sunday, really good: 338 passing yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and 63 rushing yards, including a game-tying 7-yard touchdown run on which he dragged Cardinals safety Budda Baker into the end zone. If you watched Sunday’s game and didn’t come out of it wanting to see more of Hurts, you’re crazy.
So on a day in which an ESPN report made it clear that Carson Wentz isn’t happy being a backup, doesn’t want to be a backup in the future, and certainly doesn’t want to be a backup for the Eagles, Jalen Hurts played his second excellent game in his second NFL start. The Eagles are 4-9-1. Yet because of him, their season still has juice. And if you think these next two weeks will be interesting, just wait for the offseason.