By Connor Thomas
Hopefully you had access to a television this weekend. If not, you missed what very well could’ve been the greatest weekend in the history of the sport of football. It was an absolutely wild NFL Divisional Round, with every single game ending in a walk-off score to win, and incredible moments throughout each of the 4 games. If you’re a fan of the NFL, there’s certainly plenty to talk about at the water cooler this week, but if you’re the Eagles? Well, there is something specific that the birds should’ve seen this weekend when taking in what turned out to be an unbelievable slate of games: the quarterback play. There were great moments from defenses, and coaches, and skill players, but if Howie Roseman was tuned in he should’ve had his eyes on one position only. If he did, he would’ve seen just how far away the Eagles really are.
For the record, I think Jalen Hurts should be the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles next year, partially because he has earned the opportunity by leading the team to a playoff berth, partially because an elite option probably isn’t going to be available for Philly. That being said, it should have been clear to anyone who followed the Eagles this year and watched Hurts play that there is simply a tier (or two) above him at the QB position. Seeing guys like Brady, Stafford, Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, and Rodgers, and hell, even Garoppolo and Tannehill, play football over this past weekend made Hurts look like what he probably is: a middle of the road NFL quarterback. Let me pause here. What I think some Hurts defenders might’ve read there is “I think Jalen Hurts is a bad quarterback”. That’s not at all what I’m arguing. Hurts has proven that he belongs in the NFL as a starting QB, with upside of leading a team to the playoffs. He is a GOOD professional quarterback. The issue, though, is that there are elites.
Go back and take a look at the highlights from that wild Bills-Chiefs game. It almost looks like Mahomes and Allen are playing in a different era of football than Jalen Hurts. The arm strength, the accuracy, the timing; these are all things that Hurts does not come remotely close to when compared to these two elite quarterbacks. We’ve all heard the arguments before: “You can’t compare Hurts to these guys yet! He’s only in his 2nd season, 1st as a starter!” Well, folks, we do have to compare Hurts to these guys. The 2nd year an out of Oklahoma and Alabama is 23 years old. Allen is 25, Mahomes is 26. These guys will be here for the majority, if not all, of Hurts’ professional career. He will have to beat them or another QB in their category in order to bring a Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia. Anyone who knows football should be very skeptical of his ability to do that after watching this weekend’s action.
What this doesn’t mean is that the Eagles should immediately be out on Hurts. I mean, look at the 49ers. The eye test says that Jimmy Garoppolo is just a good NFL quarterback, and yet that team continues to win with him. It’s certainly possible for a great team to take a solid QB and create an elite organization; we’ve seen it happen before. The much more likely thing, though, is for a superstar quarterback play at a superstar level and win a Super Bowl for a city. The Eagles have a good QB. I don’t believe they have one with an elite ceiling. Hurts is very possibly a top 15 quarterback in the NFL but he’s not top 10, and he’s certainly not top 5. It looks more and more every year that you have to have a QB in that top 5 if you want to win a championship. It may not be this offseason, it may not be next offseason, but after watching these performances, Howie Roseman should know that at some point, he’ll have to find one of those guys if he wants to add another parade to his resume.