August 23, 2022
The Eagles won their first preseason game on Sunday in Cleveland. Attention now turns to the Dolphins, as the Birds will be taking part in joint practices with the Fins in Miami this week before the two teams square off in a preseason finale on Saturday. With August optimism running high, let's check in on what both the national and local media have to say about the Eagles...
Former Eagles beat reporter and current Ringer writer Sheil Kapadia discussed all the different scenarios that could play out for Jalen Hurts in 2022:
1. Hurts balls out and leaves no doubt that he’s the guy
2. Hurts takes a step back
3. Hurts stays the same or takes a slight step forward
Here are some excerpts from Kapadia's analysis of how Hurts can become "The Guy" for the Birds:
It starts with Hurts’s supporting cast. Few quarterbacks are as well-positioned to succeed. The Eagles have arguably the best and deepest offensive line in the NFL. They have a true no. 1 pass-catching option in Brown. Receiver DeVonta Smith is coming off of a 916-yard rookie season and profiles as a high-end no. 2. Dallas Goedert finished first among all tight ends in yards per route run last year.
Bottom line: Hurts could play another 15 years in the NFL and not have as good of an offensive line/pass-catching combination as he has this year.
Another factor to keep in mind is that Hurts doesn’t need to go from bad to good. He needs to go from mediocre to good. There’s a difference.
This outcome could play out in either individual or team success. If the Eagles get to the NFC championship game or beyond, it’s hard to picture a scenario where they’d bail on Hurts. If they don’t get that far, but Hurts shows significant improvement and quarterbacks a highly efficient offense, searching for an upgrade would seem unlikely. [Ringer]
It's easy to agree here. The roster is stacked around Hurts and he has continuity with the coaching staff. There will be minimal excuses for Hurts not to establish himself as a true franchise QB. The receiving talent is there. The offensive line is the best in football and the defense is improved. This should be a double-digit win team. If Hurts ends his third season in the NFL without a playoff win to his name, however, I expect the Eagles to be aggressive in the quarterback market next offseason.
Fantasy football guru Matthew Berry, who just jumped ship from ESPN to NBC Sports, is high on Hurts this season. In a video feature, Berry states that Hurts is his "Ride or Die" quarterback for 2022, meaning that he's trying to leave every fantasy draft he takes part in with the Eagles quarterback. More from Berry on Hurts:
It's my way of saying, "Every draft I can, I'm leaving with this guy." This is the guy I believe in the strongest.
I think people say about Jalen Hurts, "He's not accurate. Can he be a franchise quarterback? Should Philadelphia move on?" Well they haven't... This is Jalen Hurts' team. They have one of the best offensive lines in football. They have a really easy schedule actually as well, so I think he can get out to a hot start.
Jalen Hurts is my fantasy ride or die. Let's go!
I have him at QB4... I think his range of outcomes is the No. 1 quarterback in fantasy. [NBC Sports]
Berry is right. Hurts' future standing as the Eagles' franchise quarterback remains debatable, but there's no debate about the type of stats he can put up in a fantasy setting. I'm in handful of fantasy leagues (three dynasty, two redraft). In a draft last week, I took Hurts in the sixth round to ensure I had elite fantasy production at QB. Hurts rushing numbers (784 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns) give him the upside of being the best fantasy quarterback, not to mention development as a passer that could come with the addition of A.J. Brown.
No one loves making trades more than Howie Roseman, who's always ready to tinker with the Birds' roster ahead of the season. Roseman has already made one August trade, sending disappointing wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to the Seahawks for defensive back Ugo Amadi. If the team makes another trade (potentially sending out Jalen Reagor or Andre Dillard), they could target another position of need.
NJ.com Eagles beat writer Chris Franklin wrote about two spots the Eagles could target:
The Eagles have been tinkering with the safety position during training camp, using cornerback Josiah Scott and acquired Ugo Amadi (picked up in a deal that sent 2019 second-round receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to the Seattle Seahawks). Marcus Epps and Anthony Harris appear as if they will be the starters. However, if the Eagles could acquire a young safety who can play against the slot and help out in run support, they should entertain offers.
Bigger running back
Running back is not a pressing need for the Eagles, who have carried four running backs in the past. Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell are locked in, but the Eagles do not have a bigger back like they had in Jordan Howard, whom the team used in short-yardage situations last season. The Eagles had 11 red zone touchdowns from Gainwell and Scott.
However, if the Eagles are in a four-minute situation trying to run out the clock, they don’t have a back big enough to push the pile. Acquiring a bigger running back would help. [NJ.com]
I just have a hunch that a move for a more bruising running back is coming, whether that's this month or even after the season starts. Someone in the Jordan Howard mold would make sense. Maybe even Howard himself! I've said this before (not based on any intel), but the Josh Jacobs situation in Vegas is worth monitoring. That's the 2022 version of the Jay Ajayi trade if the Birds are contending.
Deon Cain is entering the pantheon of standout training camp/preseason Eagles receivers. He had a big afternoon against the Browns on Sunday, hauling in five passes for 66 yards. Production like that could force the Eagles to keep Cain, potentially at the expense of Jalen Reagor, writes NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank:
Jalen Reagor hasn’t had an awful training camp, but it would be a mistake to keep Reagor over Deon Cain. What you saw Sunday afternoon is what Cain has been doing all summer. He had back-to-back gains of 24 and 23 yards on contested catches from Gardner Minshew in the second quarter and finished 5-for-66. He’s got great size at 6-2, 200, he’s got some experience – he started six games for the Colts and Steelers in 2019 – and he’s by far the best of the next group behind DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal. He’s just better than Reagor. And it's not close. [NBCSP]
Cain has had a strong summer. I mentioned him while discussing my training camp experience over the last month or so:
Deon Cain, who may end up on the Eagles' practice squad for the second-consecutive season, is the perfect practice player. I don't mean this as a slight to his game. Yes, he'll likely never play in a regular season matchup for the Birds, but he gives all these young defensive backs great reps, making them better in the process. It's one of the little things that I'd only pick up on being around the team.
Having another reliable wideout on the field, as opposed to the ups and downs that Reagor brings, makes all the sense in the world.
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