Hopes that the Philadelphia Eagles might be postseason contenders in 2021 will not be excessive.
That’s what occurs whenever you jettison your Tremendous Bowl-winning head coach, commerce your franchise QB, and enter a season on the heels of a 4-11-1 marketing campaign that was among the many extra dreadful we’ve seen over the past quarter-century of Birds soccer.
New head coach Nick Sirianni is filled with pleasure, and new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is properly regarded and seemingly one of many higher defensive soccer minds on the market, however the franchise has clearly fallen on laborious occasions. The staff has expertise on it, if the offensive line can keep wholesome, if the operating again can keep wholesome, if the tight finish can keep wholesome and the protection can keep wholesome. And whereas everyone seems to be rightfully enthusiastic about DeVonta Smith, second-year QB Jalen Hurts, if anybody, goes to be the man to make this engine go.
Hurts confirmed sufficient in his 4 video games of motion final yr to earn the beginning nod this season. He flashed playmaking potential with each his legs and his arms, and there are many causes to be optimistic about him. However nobody inside or exterior the group is able to anoint him because the staff’s subsequent franchise signal-caller, and rightly so.
So there are headwinds going through the Eagles in 2021, however there’s a rising sentiment amongst some within the fanbase that perhaps, simply maybe, they received’t be as unhealthy as many are predicting. The NFC East, in any case, didn’t have a single successful staff within the division final yr, and whereas Washington did enhance themselves on paper this low season, they nonetheless haven’t any franchise QB. Dallas has offensive weapons, however nonetheless no protection. And New York, properly, the Choose remains to be out on them simply but.
But when the Eagles are going to win the NFC East, one factor nearly definitely should occur.
Jalen Hurts goes to should ball out.
Hurts goes to should not solely be a fairly good QB, he’s going to should be an superior one. Suppose again to 1999, when Andy Reid was in his first yr as head coach, and he had an athletic rookie QB from Syracuse named Donovan McNabb. Like Hurts, McNabb got here turned the starter late within the season (his first begin got here in Week 10), and whereas his general numbers weren’t nice, they weren’t too totally different from Hurts’ numbers in his restricted time final season.
Hurts vs. McNabb Rookie Comparability
To be honest to McNabb, the NFL is a way more passer-friendly league, however in nearly each class, Hurts had a greater rookie marketing campaign than McNabb did. Nonetheless, it’ll be laborious for Hurts to prime what McNabb did in 2000.
McNabb nearly single-handedly took the Eagles to an 11-5 file and completed runner-up within the MVP voting that yr, second solely to Marshall Faulk, who ran for an insane 26 touchdowns that season. McNabb had 3,365 passing yards, 21 TD, 11 INT, accomplished 58.0% of his passes, and in addition rushed for 629 yards with 6 scores on the bottom. These wouldn’t be large numbers by at the moment’s requirements, however in 2000, they have been fairly good. And it wasn’t simply the manufacturing on the again of the soccer playing cards. McNabb carried the Eagles to quite a few victories all through the season, many occasions along with his legs. He shortly turned one of the vital dynamic forces within the NFL, as evidenced by his second-place end within the MVP vote.
Will Hurts have the identical type of affect? It’s laborious to foretell Jalen ending runner-up within the MVP vote in his first full season, and it might be unfair to anticipate it. Nonetheless, Hurts has expertise. Anybody with eyes who watched the tip of the season can see the glimpses are there, glimpses we noticed in Donovan McNabb in his rookie season. And whereas Hurts was not drafted almost as excessive as McNabb was, the trail to Hurts turning into a franchise quarterback is definitely proper in entrance of him.
The protection shouldn’t be going to hold the 2021 Eagles. Nor will the operating sport, nor the receiving corps. If the Eagles are going to problem for the division title, Jalen Hurts goes to should change into one thing near what McNabb was in his first full season because the staff’s starter. He’s going to should change into a pressure within the NFL, somebody who beats groups along with his legs and his arms and makes his teammates higher.
Even when it’s not a possible final result, it’s definitely within the realm of risk.