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June 27, 2024

What they're saying: Jalen Hurts is trying to be a better leader

Jalen Hurts and the Eagles crumbled last season. Lane Johnson said the quarterback is making an effort to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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Jalen-Hurts-minicamp-3 Colleen Claggett/For PhillyVoice

Jalen Hurts, pictured during OTAs on June 4 at the NovaCare Complex, is prioritizing being a more outgoing leader for this season.

There are a few more weeks of quiet left to go before the storm that is Eagles training camp. 

Let's check in on Sea Isle to see how they're passing the time:


There are a few other loose beats about the Birds in a pretty boring part of the offseason, but let's just take a quick run through them...

Roster ranks

Mike Clay, Aaron Schatz, Seth Walder | ESPN

ESPN's panel of NFL analysts ranked every lineup in the league as they stand right now earlier this week, and the Eagles settled in at No. 10 – behind the Niners and Chiefs at 1 and 2, respectively, the Jets at 4, the Cowboys at 6, and the Bills just ahead of them at 9 among the notable entries. 

The Eagles' greatest strength, the panel concluded, is at offensive tackle. Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata are among the very best at what they do and aren't expected to be going anywhere anytime soon as they carry the torch for Kelce. 

Their big weakness, however, is on defense at off-ball linebacker, an issue that GM Howie Roseman tried to address but seemed to have a clear limit in doing so.

Wrote Mike Clay:

This is simply not a priority position for general manager Howie Roseman. A year after struggling to find players to hold down the fort, the Eagles' offseason investments included Devin White, journeyman Oren Burks and a fifth-round flier on Jeremiah Trotter Jr. A former first-round pick, White played a ton of snaps in five seasons with Tampa Bay but struggled badly against the run. The team will hope to get the most out of White and a healthy season from 2022 third-rounder Nakobe Dean would also provide a boost. [ESPN]

T.J. Edwards was a quietly severe loss from the Eagles team that went to the Super Bowl in 2022, and in a lot of ways, they still do miss him. 

But they're hoping now that Devin White can find his footing again with a change of scenery and that Nakobe Dean can stay healthy and step into the role like they've been trying to line him up for since drafting him out of Georgia.

Take the lead

Rich Eisen Show

Lane Johnson knows the Eagles' offense is stacked on paper and does have a good feeling about the team this season, but he also remembers exactly what happened in the back half of last season.

"On paper, you look at the talent, the ability, the track record, I think we have the potential for a big year," Johnson told Rich Eisen on his show earlier in the week. "But as you know, as games go on, we have to prove that, and we're gonna do that. Last year, I felt the last seven games were a total misrepresentation of what we were, and we didn't do anything to right that wrong. We're ready to do that – eager to do that."

But if they're going to, Jalen Hurts will be one of the biggest factors in that.

As the Eagles fell apart last season, so did he, and that stoic demeanor that painted him as a focused and unshakable force in 2022 while the team was on its way to the Super Bowl came back around in 2023 and made him out to be a recluse while everything around him was imploding. 

That's led to chatter and some doubt within the fan base – it's just the nature of the Philadelphia market – but also a reported push internally to have Hurts loosen up a bit and be more outgoing. 

And according to Johnson, as he continued talking to Eisen, Hurts is working on it:

"I mean, as you know, Philly's a big media market. You hear lots of stories, but I think just this offseason he's really done a good job of bonding with his teammates. I feel like the connection has definitely grown, a really big offseason. The work ethic has never been the issue, tremendous worker, but just becoming a more vocal leader. I think whenever he speaks, guys listen up, and him reaching out to guys and creating these bonds in the offseason – he's having these throwing sessions with receivers now in the offseason, getting work in – but really has gone out of his way to connect with his teammates and we feel that. 

"Every year's kind of a 'prove it' deal to everybody when you're in that town. We all feel it to some degree, but Jalen's our guy moving forward. We love him, we respect him, and nobody puts in more work than he does." [Rich Eisen Show]

But about that chatter

Bo Wulf, Zach Berman | PHLY

Is it weird though that this kind of chatter and these kinds of doubts are already somewhat floating around Hurts so soon after signing his big contract, and also so soon after the Carson Wentz era fell apart?

Longtime Eagles beats Bo Wulf and Zach Berman, now of PHLY, entertained that discussion on their mailbag-centered podcast earlier this week, pondering if it's ultimately an organizational or even market-based problem. 

Their talk below:

The other, possibly greater part of this: Where we're really at in the calendar. 

OTAs are done, training camp is close but not quite here yet, and Philadelphia is always starved for football no matter the circumstance. There's gotta be something to talk about.

But the good news is we're not that far off from having something more tangible to focus on. 

The Eagles report for camp on July 23.

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