April 12, 2021
Cliches are rampant around the NFL, meaningless turns of phrase typically used as placeholders for the more meaningful dissertations behind closed doors between those who actually have a reservation at the table.
As outsiders, fans get fed spoonfuls of Crash Davis-inspired vanilla ice cream designed to lower the pulse rate and lull any emotion to sleep.
And the “good Lord willing” you’ll buy Nick Sirianni’s high-school euphemisms about competition, assume iron is really sharpening iron at the NovaCare Complex each and every day this summer, and understand the Eagles always have to take it “one day at a time.”
Every once in a while one of the cliches has some teeth behind it and when it comes to football, the best of those for the actual players is “control what you can control.”
If you’re the 90th man on the offseason roster as an undrafted free agent that’s self-evident. If one starts looking at the depth chart in that kind of scenario, the fate is already sealed. But if a player without a pedigree puts his head down and just goes to work to improve every day someone, be it here or in another NFL city, will notice.
Jalen Hurts is hardly worried about his roster spot as the Eagles’ new QB1 but he could certainly notice some rather obvious distractions this offseason and the “rat poison,” as he likes to call it, is coming from inside the house.
For those of us in the media who cover the cliche-ridden NFL, we also have our own volume of banalities, and when it comes to organizations like the Eagles the best of the bunch is “don’t listen to what the organization says, watch what it does.”
Dating back to the ESPN report where Jeffrey Lurie instructed Howie Roseman and his staff to build around Hurts only to quickly develop a sudden very real interest in presumptive No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson of BYU right up until the latest whispers late last week that the Eagles are crossing their collective-fingers that the Deshaun Watson allegations get cleared up, it’s becoming abundantly clear that Philadelphia has its eye on a prize other than Hurts.
All signs indicate the second-year signal caller is a different type of placeholder — the bridge to 2022 when the Eagles have digested their giant gulp of Carson Wentz-medicine, the revenue shortfalls of the pandemic are behind the league, and Philadelphia is flush with both financial and draft capital to do whatever is necessary at the game’s most important position.
That could be an allegation-free Watson, Russell Wilson or even Aaron Rodgers on the proven front or the latest round of fast-risers on the draft board with the early odds on favorites being North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Southern Cal’s Kedon Slovis or Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler.
Hurts went through a similar situation to what's going on here in college at Alabama where nothing short of perfection is acceptable, eventually losing his job with the "more skilled" Tua Tagovaiola.
That means Hurts is smart enough to see through the lip service in Philadelphia and identify the platinum-level insurance policy the Eagles have purchased, something that becomes vested by 2022.
That could spawn a woe-is-me approach moving forward but the early returns are positive, unlike when Wentz got his back up after the Eagles drafted Hurts at No. 53 overall last April. Instead of playing Eeyore, however, Hurts has chosen to hone his fundamentals and technique with personal tutor Quincy Avery and often shows off his vaunted work ethic by inviting his embattled young receivers to get some work in together whenever possible.
The good news here for the second-year quarterback is the opportunity he’s gotten. Veteran free agents Anthony Harris and Eric Wilson aren’t the only ones in town who have been given one year to prove what they mean to the organization.
The rat poison says the new No. 1 in town both on the depth chart and by jersey number isn’t supposed to succeed, but that doesn't mean Hurts is prevented from controlling his own narrative.
John McMullen is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media, and the co-host of ‘Birds 365’ on PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey and contributes Eagles and NFL coverage for SI.com. You can reach him at email@example.com
Follow John on Twitter: @JFMcMullen
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