Jalen Hurts is in his third year as an NFL quarterback. He will turn 24 years old in August. He is not a grizzled veteran who has seen everything and lived through worse.
Hurts and the Eagles will face 14 quarterbacks this season (barring injury). Since quarterback is the most important position in football, having the best quarterback on the field could be vital to winning. Not always, but often.
Since six of the Eagles’ games are against the NFC East, let’s take a look at the starting quarterbacks from those teams.
DAK NO. 1
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is the NFC East’s best signal-caller.
That’s not just me saying it. Media experts say it. Former team executives say it. Most people say it. Right now, it’s simply true.
It’s not a huge reach to make that statement. Prescott is the most accomplished QB in the division. He still is young, at 28, to turn his great career into something legendary.
To reach that level of distinction, Dak needs to win a Super Bowl.
Dak is an astounding 25-6 against the NFC East, which might say more about the division than the quarterback. Dak’s stellar division record doesn’t guarantee playoff berths, victories, or Super Bowls for the Cowboys.
That record isn’t all Dak — the Cowboys have been a solid team during Dak’s term in Dallas. Still, 25-6 against the quarterbacks and teams you want to beat is impressive.
HURTS IS THE MYSTERY
Prescott’s competition in the NFC East isn’t formidable — not now. You have Hurts, the Commanders’ Carson Wentz and the Giants’ Daniel Jones.
You can make a non-crazy case that one or two of these guys might be with different teams next year — evidence they are not the long-term answer for their teams.
Hurts remains the enigma. He is the great unknown. He is overflowing with potential but coming off an inconsistent season.
About Hurts, we ask:
- What is his upside?
- How good can he be?
- Is he a franchise quarterback — one capable of making the playoffs and winning playoff games *because* of him?
- Is he always going to be good but not great?
- Or, great but not elite?
- A capable NFL quarterback with a limited ceiling? Is that enough?
- If he’s just average, or not great, do the Eagles have enough around him to ensure winning and winning big?
- We’ll take a deeper look at Hurts later in the week on Iggles.com
All of these questions make 2022 one of the Eagles’ most fascinating seasons.
WENTZ IS ANOTHER QUESTION MARK
Carson Wentz is who he is.
- Wentz can win you a football game nearly all by himself.
- Wentz can lose you a football game nearly all by himself.
- He has a big arm and a sometimes dense mentality that he can make the big play when the big play isn’t available.
- He doesn’t always make the smart play.
- He forces passes into coverage, figuring with his arm things will work out.
When Wentz is clicking, so is his team. Think about the 2017 Eagles, who were 10-2 when he was injured against the Los Angeles Rams.
Think about 2020, when the Eagles were 4-11-1 and deserved to be. Wentz went 3-8 as a starter. He threw 15 interceptions and completed a below-average 55.9 percent of his passes.
Think about last season, when Wentz’ Indianapolis Colts only needed to win one of their final two games to make the playoffs.
They lost at home to Las Vegas, 23-20, and went on the road and lost to 2-14 Jacksonville, 26-11.
Wentz will be operating with excellent receivers in Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Logan Thomas and rookie Jahan Dotson this season in Washington.
That should help. Preseason talk varies about Wentz. Many people think he will bounce back and have a good season. He has NFL talent. We don’t know if he can utilize that talent in a commanding way.
JONES: WHO KNOWS?
Jones is going into his fourth year as the Giants quarterback. His record and stats are spotty.
Thus, the Giants have not extended his contract, which would be expected if the team considered him the franchise quarterback moving forward.
He has made 37 starts and is 12-25. He had 29 interceptions and 45 touchdown passes. He has completed 62.8 percent of his passes.
Former NFL quarterback David Carr, a former Giants back-up, believes Jones is going to rebound and be a productive player. Carr is an analyst at NFL Network.
Carr said Jones has had a lack of continuity in coaching, a leaky offensive line and injuries to key players.
- “It takes a perfect storm to play quarterback in this league,” Carr said on the Giants Country website. “And I think finally they’re as close as they’ve been to being able to put an offensive line together to let Daniel’s ability to shine.
- “I think his greatest attribute is he’s oblivious to the rush, and Eli Manning was like that, but you had to put a good wall in front of him.”
Twenty-nine interceptions in three seasons is not winning football. Ball protection is something Jones needs to improve, or he’s going to be holding the clipboard next season in some other city, likely not of his choosing.
- “He’s put it on the ground in clutch situations, and that makes it hard to defend the guy,” Carr said. “That’s why they didn’t pick up his option.
- “So if he can eliminate that, I really believe that [head coach] Brian Daboll is gonna put together a system … that’s gonna make him flourish.”
PFF RANKS NFC QUARTERBACKS
In Pro Football Focus’ quarterback rankings, none of the NFC East guys are in its top two tiers.
Prescott is the highest-rated quarterback, landing in Tier C, “Mixed Bag — the Most Polarizing Players”. Dak is in there with Arizona’s Kyler Murray and Las Vegas’ Derek Carr (brother of David).
In Tier D, Prove It or Lose it — Potentially their Last Year Starting, we find Jones ranked second, one spot ahead of Hurts.
On top of Tier D is New Orleans’ Jameis Winston. Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa is fourth and Seattle’s Drew Lock is fifth.
On top of Tier E, Let’s Not Get Our Hopes Up, is Wentz, followed by Atlanta’s Marcus Mariota, Pittsburgh’s Mitchell Trubinsky and Carolina’s Sam Darnold.
Yes, Prescott is the division’s best quarterback. He should be coming into his prime. Are the Cowboys good enough around him? They won 12 games last year but the offseason consensus is their roster took a step backward.
Hurts is not in Dak’s neighborhood yet. The 2022 Eagles should be better than the 2021 Eagles. Does that mean Hurts will be better? The Eagles are rolling the dice that he is.
Wentz might be more of a mystery than Hurts. There is the good Wentz, the bad Wentz and the puzzling Wentz. Which one shows up? That will help determine the success of the Commanders’ season.
Jones hasn’t been a mystery; he’s played bad football for a bad team. The Giants rebuilt the offensive line, which should help. His receiving corps has improved. Unless Jones takes a huge step forward, his time in New York might be coming to an end.