Quarterback is the most important position in football, or any sport. I think you agree.
Hockey goalies are up there, say the hockey fans. I agree: They are up there, probably the second-most important position in sports.
The quarterback decides to run the play as called or he audibles depending on what the defense is showing him. He has to make sure each handoff is precise.
On a passing play, he has to scan the field for an open receiver. If the receiver isn’t open on the play-call, he needs to look for an alternative receiver. If the receiver is covered, he makes a snap judgment whether he can get the ball to the receiver and whether the receiver is in a position to catch the pass.
The Eagles are heavy on RPOs — run-pass options, plays where the quarterback decides in a microsecond whether to hand off the ball, run the ball himself or pass the ball.
All while 11 mean-spirited defenders are trying to stop you cold.
HURTS IN COMMAND
The Eagles ran 1,179 offensive plays in 2022. Jalen Hurts touched the ball on 1,028 plays. Gardner Minshew took 157 snaps. So a thousand times Hurts was on the firing line, making quick decisions, carrying out organized plans, or creating impromptu ones out of likely chaos.
Hurts played the position so well that he finished second in the MVP race behind the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes. Hurts might have won the award if he didn’t miss two games with a sprained shoulder.
Quarterback value is foremost on the minds of general managers who don’t have the kind of quarterback who can win games and win championships.
- Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said a couple of weeks after the Super Bowl: “I wake up every morning thinking about this football team, and I go to bed every night thinking about this football team. It’s constant communication about some of the things we are going to do.”
Roseman doesn’t lose sleep about his quarterback — maybe except negotiating Hurts’ expected contract extension. On the field, Hurts is QB1. He is expected to be QB1 for 2023, the following season and well into the future. Hurts has given the Eagles enormous security that this critical position is in reliable hands.
Next month’s NFL Draft might see quarterbacks selected with four of the first five picks. The Jets and Packers are sparring over compensation for an Aaron Rodgers trade. Lamar Jackson’s future is in serious dispute.
The Commanders will start either Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett. In February, Washington released Carson Wentz, who has two years and $53 million remaining on his contract.
Other projected starters include Gardner Minshew (Colts), Baker Mayfield (Bucs) and Andy Dalton (Panthers). Ugh. Going from Tom Brady to Mayfield is quite a journey.
The recent massive trade between the Panthers and Bears showed how teams value quarterbacks — even unproven ones.
Chicago held the first overall pick in the draft. Its quarterback situation is fairly stable and rising in the belief that talented Justin Fields is a potential franchise quarterback.
So, the Bears didn’t need to draft a quarterback with the top pick. Below Chicago were six teams in the top 10 with quarterback deficiencies — the Panthers, Texans, Colts, Seahawks (maybe), Raiders, Falcons (maybe).
Experts say there are four college quarterbacks with NFL-starter potential — Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s fast-rising Anthony Richardson.
With such talent available, the Bears sat back and entertained offers. It’s not known how many teams came on bended knee to the Bears but it definitely wasn’t only the Panthers.
The Panthers made their move. They wanted the Bears’ No. 1 overall draft pick and were willing to pay for it. Carolina moved up from ninth and handed the Bears a fortune in return.
The Panthers traded the ninth and 61st picks, a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in 2025 and wide receiver D.J. Moore.
The Panthers might have locked in on which quarterback they want. Or, they will spend the next month evaluating the candidates. Or, in an interesting twist, they can trade out of the top spot to a team with designs on a particular player.
The Bears love their trade. They need help on defense. With the ninth pick, the Bears will have access to a potentially great defensive player, which is what they wanted anyway.
Quarterbacks are that valuable. Since 2000, 16 quarterbacks have been drafted No. 1 overall. Five of the 16 played in the Super Bowl. Eli Manning won two Super Bowls and Matthew Stafford won one. Joe Burrow, Jared Goff and Cam Newton lost in the Super Bowl.
Since the draft began in 1936, 34 quarterbacks have been drafted No. 1 overall, the most of any position.
Meanwhile, the Eagles can build around Hurts. They can concentrate their efforts and draft capital on everything else. The quarterback position is in safe hands.