Jalen Hurts should be comfortably preparing for his first full season as an NFL starter, but his own team throws him more shade than Magnolia Lane.
This is the most compelling thing Howie Roseman said Wednesday:
“... We knew that three quarterbacks were going to be off the board in the first three picks.”
Roseman said this to explain why the Eagles recently traded back, from sixth to 12th, in the first round of Thursday’s draft: the run on quarterbacks would create a glut of talent later in the round. But this also told us that, if the Eagles could have drafted BYU’s Zach Wilson or Ohio State’s Justin Fields, who are expected to be picked second and third after Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, they would have.
Jalen Hurts gets no respect. No respect. It’s like he’s Rodney Dangerfield, and the Eagles are his wife.
This is just the latest slight to Hurts’ abilities and accomplishments.
They wouldn’t use him properly early last season. They wouldn’t name him the starter late in the season. They won’t name him the starter now, even though they traded Carson Wentz and hired a low-budget veteran, Jersey Joe Flacco.
Granted, Hurts wasn’t Joe Montana last year — in his four starts he played well twice, played OK once, and played badly once — but, practically speaking, he’s the Eagles’ starting QB. His teammates love and respect him.
Why won’t his front office? Why won’t his coaches?
Why sabotage the situation in its infancy? Are the Eagles trying to motivate Hurts though their dismissive manner toward him? Hurts seems to be the sort of athlete who thrives on disproving his doubters, but publicly doubting the most important player in the franchise is still a strange gambit. You would think they would support Hurts, especially since they lost weak-minded Carson Wentz after he was benched for the final four games of 2020.
Don’t blame this resistance to stability on new coach Nick Sirianni. Yes, Sirianni said Wednesday that “my biggest thing is competition,” but, as we’ve learned in the past few months, owner Jeffrey Lurie and Roseman have an oversized influence over which players play, and when. Sirianni is coincidental; he might set the brackets for the team’s rock-paper-scissors tournament, but no decision this big will be Sirianni’s. Pederson had little power. His over-caffeinated successor has none. Roseman has all of the power but lacks the emotional intelligence that made Pederson so valuable.
Then again, when you’re running a “quarterback factory” like Roseman is, you don’t think of players like Jalen Hurts as people. You think of them as assets.
Hurts gets slagged by his own ball club like Dre treated Easy-E (R.I.P) on “The Chronic.”
The Eagles deactivated Hurts in Game 1 in favor of Nate Sudfeld, who finished 2020 with a 14.6 passer rating.
The Eagles said on draft night that they wouldn’t use Hurts like Saints gadget QB Taysom Hill. Then, from Games 2 through 12, the Eagles used Hurts exactly like Taysom Hill.
By Game 2, Wentz had proven himself unable to do the job. Still, they wouldn’t even leave Hurts in for a series.
After Game 10, with the playoffs still attainable despite a 3-6-1 record, it was obvious Hurts had to replace Wentz, but Pederson said that starting Hurts instead of Wentz would be throwing in the towel.
“If you get to that spot where … you bench him, you’re sending the wrong message to your football team. That the season’s over.”
Pederson eventually did replace Wentz with Hurts, who played well in the second half of Game 12. Then Hurts played brilliantly in Game 13, his first start. And played very well in Game 14. The Eagles still would not name him the full-time starter.
Pederson’s review of Hurts’ performances were always measured, always qualified. In his debut as a starter Hurts beat the Saints, then the top team in the NFC thanks to their No. 1 defense, and Pederson dropped this line:
“Jalen was a part of it. … This win today is not about one guy.”
Hurts finally got the gig before Game 15, but then, in Game 16, after scoring two touchdowns in the first three quarters to keep Washington within 3 points, the Eagles benched Hurts for Sudfeld. Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie said Pederson acted alone, but they sounded a lot like the Warren Commission.
Wentz has been traded, but the Eagles still won’t give Hurts the job.
In fact, they told Flacco when they signed him that he’d have a chance to start. Flacco is 36, is 6-15 in his last three seasons, with three different teams, with whom he compiled a passer rating of 83.9. Hurts’ passer rating last season was 77.6, but at least there’s an upside.
And, now, this.
If you can’t draft Lawrence, whom the Jaguars will pick first overall, then why draft a quarterback at all? Will Wilson or Fields assuredly be better than Hurts?
Wilson is a one-year wonder with a big arm who thrived against awful competition in a pandemic. Fields is a big, tough, inconsistent athlete, with an incomplete resume: The Buckeyes only played eight games due to COVID-19.
As for pedigree, Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson both were drafted after the second round.
This is my soapbox, not his. Hurts isn’t asking for anything to be given to him.
But he deserves better than what he’s gotten.