Heading into this season, no one knew what to expect from first-year head coach Nick Sirianni and second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts. For Sirianni, this was his first HC gig in the NFL, and for Hurts this was his first chance to be a full-time starter.
The oddsmakers did not have a lot of faith in the Eagles in the preseason. They had the worst odds to win the NFC East (+500) and to make the playoffs (+275) in the division, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Additionally, Philadelphia’s win total was set to 6.5 (-140 to go over and +125 to go under).
But fast forward to Week 14 of the 2021 season and the Eagles have six wins and are a game behind the Washington Football Team and San Francisco 49ers for the sixth and seventh place in the NFC playoff picture. The Eagles currently have a bye this week, but their last four games will be against the Washington Football Team (twice), New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.
If Philadelphia can come away with a split or win three out of their next four, then they might have a shot to get into playoffs. And at the same time, it would prove to a certain segment of the fanbase that Hurts is the quarterback of the present and future.
However, if things go south over these last four games, then we could see fans and some media alike clamoring for the team to make a change at head coach and quarterback. The latter of two is more likely, especially with the Eagles having three first round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Despite this upcoming year’s quarterback class not being robust compared to the last two classes, there’s this belief that Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh), Malik Willis (Liberty) or Matt Corral (Ole Miss) could do better than what Hurts has done this season. If we are being honest, it is hard to expect any rookie to come in Year 1 and set the world on fire.
This season, Hurts has had his share of ups and downs and was carrying the offense at various points, which was not the best recipe for success. Sirianni has done a better of putting Hurts in successful situations by running the ball, which was a foreign concept to open up the season.
The young, dual-threat quarterback has completed 60.1% of his passes for 2,435 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also has 695 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
Hurts did not play in the Eagles’ Week 13 game against the New York Jets as he was nursing an ankle injury. The second-year quarterback struggled in Week 12 against the Giants as he threw for 129 yards and three interceptions. It was not his best day throwing the ball, which brought out his detractors and doubters.
Then last week, Gardner Minshew got the start for Hurts and moved the ball down the field and was efficient. Minshew completed 20-of-25 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 33-18 win. And in typical Philadelphia sports fashion, the hype machine began around Minshew and this notion of a QB controversy. However, head coach Nick Sirianni said after last week’s win that Hurts is the team’s starting quarterback.
That being said, if Hurts does not perform well over these last four games, then those calls for the team to go into a different direction will only get louder. Is it wrong? Yes, because playing quarterback in the NFL is not easy and you only get better by experience. The good news is Hurts and Sirianni can get this team one step closer towards the playoffs in Week 15 at home against the Washington Football Team.