More Sports:

July 16, 2023

What they're saying: The Eagles' Quarterback Factory might be stronger than ever

One analyst believes Jalen Hurts and Marcus Mariota are going to be the NFL's best starter/backup QB duo in 2023.

Eagles NFL
060123EaglesJalenHurts2 Colleen Claggett/For PhillyVoice

Are Jalen Hurts and Marcus Mariota the best starter/backup quarterback combo in the NFL?

Training camp isn't here yet, but we're only getting that much closer, and anticipation is building. 

We'll be down at the NovaCare Complex before you know it with a lot more tangible things to talk about, but until then, there are still a few discussion points surrounding the Eagles still worth highlighting. 

So without further ado, another edition of what they're saying about the Eagles...

The Quarterback Factory

Bucky Brooks |

In a rank of the league's best combos at 11 key position groups heading into 2023, the Eagles, unsurprisingly, lead the way at offensive tackle with Lane Johnson on the right and Jordan Mailata on the left. 

What could be a bit surprising though, is that the Eagles might also have the best starter/backup setup at quarterback going in too. analyst Bucky Brooks' logic:

The second-place finisher in 2022 MVP voting, [Jalen Hurts] has emerged as a top-five quarterback, thanks to dynamic playmaking abilities as a run-pass threat on the perimeter. His potential to churn out 100-yard rushing games or 300-yard passing outings makes him one of the most challenging matchups in the league. This offseason, the Eagles added a backup with similar traits. [Marcus Mariota] is a former starter with the experience, expertise and explosiveness to run a Philadelphia offense loaded with RPOs and option tactics. The 29-year-old is the perfect insurance policy to preserve the team's chances at making another Super Bowl run. []

The Eagles did have to go without Hurts for a stretch late last season while he was out with a sprained shoulder, and with Gardner Minshew in, the offense was noticeably limited. 

On paper, Mariota is a better fit to keep the offense chugging along should Hurts go down again, though the Eagles are going to want to make sure that doesn't happen. 

To that end, what Brooks wrote about Johnson and Mailata:

It is not a coincidence the Eagles are able to pummel opponents on the ground or through the air, given they boast an elite set of bookends on the edges. Johnson and Mailata are monstrous blockers with nimble feet and nasty attitudes. The tandem's toughness and tenacity enable the Eagles to play smash-mouth football on the edges while mixing in RPOs and play-action passes to keep opponents on their heels. With Johnson and Mailata displaying the athleticism, agility and body control to excel as blockers on the move, the Eagles' diverse offensive attack is keyed by the play of their dynamic edge players.  []

The guys you build around

Brad Spielberger | Pro Football Focus

Over at PFF, Brad Spielberger highlighted three players each for every NFC team to build around. 

For the Eagles, he went skill on offense with the expected picks of Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown – even though the team's philosophy of building through the trenches is well known.

His third selection, however, was Josh Sweat, one of the more underrated though effective names in the pass rush. 

Wrote Spielberger:

The Eagles list here could be 10 names long, and while Josh Sweat may appear to be a confusing choice from Philadelphia’s absolutely loaded defense, he’s the youngest stud on a unit that boasts a ton of veteran talent. Three NFL edge defenders earned run-defense and pass-rush grades above 80.0 in 2022: Nick Bosa, Maxx Crosby and Josh Sweat.

The reunion of two old friends in Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown led to immediate fireworks and a trip to the Super Bowl, and there’s no reason they can’t get back to the big game a few more times. Brown is one of three wide receivers to rank in the top 10 in receiving grade in each of the past three seasons, joining Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson. Meanwhile, Hurts silenced any remaining doubters with an 80.6 passing grade in 2022, which he capped off with an incredible Super Bowl performance outside of one tough play where he fumbled. [PFF]

Say what now?

Jeremy Fowler | ESPN+ ($)

In a survey of anonymous NFL executives, coaches, and scouts, ESPN put together a top-10 ranking of the league's best offensive tackles, and the Eagles are well represented on it. 

Mailata ranked fifth with recognition of his unique rise into a starting left tackle, but what's really going to raise eyebrows on this list is Johnson's rating at No. 4. 

Now, it's not bad at all to have your two starting tackles on there – especially when they're both in the top five – but here's what was written about Johnson:

Johnson showed once again his capabilities when healthy. Dating back to 2017, he has made first-team All-Pro in two of the past three seasons in which he played 15 games, including 2022.

He tied for the league lead in pass block win rate among offensive tackles at 95%.

"Premier player," an AFC scout said. "Incredibly gifted athlete with force."

But one NFC exec believes Johnson is overhyped and plays in a run-pass-option offense that helps him limit sacks.

"He gets a lot of credit for being noisy and playing on a good team," the exec said. [ESPN+, $]

Curious to see what that NFC exec's team looks like. 

Our own Jimmy Kempski's input on the matter:

You can also refer back to the NFC Championship, when Johnson, playing on a torn adductor, tossed Nick Bosa around all day in a blowout the 49ers still can't get over

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports