by John Kincade
One of the under the radar moves that hasn’t made the splashiest of free agency headlines this week was the departure of Gardner Minshew to the Indianapolis Colts and in his place Marcus Mariota arriving to replace him in Philadelphia. Backup quarterbacks are sometimes thought of as not important to the championship picture, but in reality the Eagles truly need to get this one right. In my opinion, this is one decision where Howie Roseman got it wrong.
I’ve got a few reasons for you to consider my point of view;
THE EAGLES NEED A RELIABLE BACKUP
In both of his seasons as the Eagles starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts has been injured in December. He missed one start in December of the 2021 season. In 2022 he missed two starts. Gardner Minshew stepped in both times and the Eagles passing attack was still able to generate offense through the air. Mariota has not been effective when asked to serve as a backup quarterback. One guy has performed well in this role, another hasn’t.
THE EAGLES PASSING OFFENSE WON’T BE BETTER WITH MARIOTA
For their careers, here are the comparative numbers as passers;
Mariota 2,095 attempts 62.6% 15,656 yards 92 touchdowns / 54 interceptions
Minshew 933 attempts. 62.8% 6,632 yards 44 touchdowns / 15 interceptions
Marcus Mariota has never been an effective passer. He can get yards but has a history of terrible decision making. He has lost every opportunity to start because of that flaw. Minshew protects the football and the Eagles are a team with features a dynamic passing attack. One of the best offensive lines in football can pass protect which gives the better passer a huge opportunity. That man is certainly Minshew.
Minshew has been a reliable teammate and has fit in well here under Nick Sirianni. Marcus Mariota will now join his 4th NFL franchise after being the second selection in the draft. It will be his third franchise in 3 seasons. The most dependable thing about Mariota at this point is that he will be moving on again soon. When given the opportunity to start he hasn’t been able to secure the confidence of his team to start. How could anyone argue that Mariota is a more competent solution? He’s not.
ONE GUY COSTS $1.5M LESS
Gardner Minshew will serve as the Indianapolis Colts backup quarterback for $3.5M. The Eagles will now pay Marcus Mariota 30% more to serve as theirs. Savings of $1.5M matters in a year where you are having to pay premium prices to secure some of your veteran contracts. Why the Eagles want to pay more for the less talented passer confuses me. I know that Mariota can run the football more effectively but the Eagles are built to throw the football. It’s not 1980.
MARIOTA JUST WALKED OUT ON HIS LAST TEAM
When informed that the Falcons were going to give Desmond Ridder a look, instead of agreeing to backup and mentor the young starter for the remainder of the season, Mariota decided to have surgery for a minor injury immediately that he was playing through. Imagine if Doug Pederson did that after the Eagles decided to start Donovan McNabb? What if Wentz walked out immediately when Hurts got his start?
Howie Roseman has had an excellent off-season. It seems like a minor detail but it could end up being a huge decision. I’m hoping it won’t cost the team when it counts in 2023.