With the 53rd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted quarterback Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma. The graduate transfer to Oklahoma by way of Alabama, from Houston, Texas, was now a Philadelphia Eagle. As he donned the ball cap with the Eagles logo proudly displaying from the front, and his family celebrated around him all while being streamed on national television, Philadelphia was tuning out of the NFL Draft.
The morning after, the Eagles selection of Jalen Hurts still makes almost no sense to me at all. It makes less sense to me than when they drafted a 26 year old firefighter in the first round.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) April 25, 2020
Every excuse the Eagles have given for drafting Jalen Hurts is stupid https://t.co/dT66esYcbg— Bleeding Green Nation (@BleedingGreen) April 26, 2020
Eagles fans were disgusted with the pick. Why?
The Eagles have not yet entered the first year of a huge, mega-deal with their star quarterback, Carson Wentz. Wentz just signed a four-year, $128 million deal last June, locking Wentz in as a Philadelphia Eagle through 2024. Wentz more than deserved the contract, arguably performing as the best quarterback in franchise history.
Despite that, Wentz has struggled to stay healthy. His MVP season in 2017 was cut short three weeks early by a torn ACL. He’s missed eight games in his career so far, and has yet to finish playing in a Playoff game.
Now, with needs in a secondary that struggled through injuries and just overall at times last season, many fans felt that the pick was a “waste of resources” and that it was “unneccesary” with Wentz at the helm.
I’ll be honest, I was on the air when Hurts came off the board and I was astonished. I thought for sure that the guys I was with were joking with me. Hurts is one of my favorite players in this class, and I can see him having a very long and fruitful career. The fact that my favorite team in the NFL was drafting my favorite prospect excited me. Then, as the reality set in, I started to wonder why myself. It didn’t make sense initially. It wasn’t the most ideal landing spot for him from the outside looking in.
Howie Roseman speaks after the Draft
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman took questions after the Jalen Hurts pick, and made a couple of surprising suggestions.
“For better or worse, we are quarterback developers,” Roseman said. “We want to be a quarterback factory. We have the right people in place to do that.”
Twitter instantly mocked the general manager for his comment, pointing out that the Eagles don’t have a great track record of producing good quarterbacks to the rest of the NFL. Outside of Nick Foles, who the team allowed to walk in free agency, they haven’t ever gotten much return for their quarterbacks.
A day at the Eagles QB factory pic.twitter.com/uY7oJwFAXu— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) April 26, 2020
Howie continued on when asked further about the pick, saying:
“In 2012, we had a vision. We had a vision that we would draft a quarterback who’s been extremely successful, and I don’t want tampering charges on me but I think we can understand who that was, and then come back in the fourth round and draft a quarterback who won a world championship for us and go back-to-back. And I feel like we got a little cute. And I don’t know that there’s a big difference between taking the 53rd pick in the draft and taking a pick in the third round if you feel strongly about a guy.”
Roseman was mocked for this statement too, this time for illuding to the Eagles interest in Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson and letting him fall too far in the draft in 2012. Pro Football Talk ran a piece by Darrin Gantt, who said that “memories of missing out on [Russell] Wilson in the 2012 NFL Draft played a part in the Eagles using a second-round pick on Hurts this year.” The article included a video of Mike Florio and Chris Simms bashing the Eagles for their pick of Hurts.
The part of this statement that really sticks out is that they “have the right people in place” to make Philadelphia into a quarterback-making machine. Who could he be talking about?
There are three key people on this coaching staff that could end up playing an intrical part in this story: Quarterbacks coach Press Taylor, Passing Game Analayst Andrew Breiner, and Senior Offensive Consultant Marty Mornhinweg.
The Marty Mornhninweg connection
On March 5th, 2020, the Eagles hired Marty Mornhinweg as the team’s Senior Offensive Consultant. He was previously the quarterback’s coach and offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens before his firing after the 2018 season and the Wild Card loss. It’s not his first stint with the Eagles, as he helped coach Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick to pro bowls during his tenures in Green Bay and Philadelphia.
The significance? Mornhinweg helped the Raven’s transition from Joe Flacco to the young rookie, Lamar Jackson. His scheme was exposed in the wild card game by the Chargers, who played a base defense consisting of seven defensive backs. They took away all of Jackson’s passing lanes and forced him to make decisions he didn’t want to make, which was to extend the play and continue to look for the opening with Joey Bosa coming after him.
As an offensive coordinator, Mornhinweg’s offense’s have never finished below 12th in the NFL, almost always ending up in the top ten league units. To put that into plain terms, he’s an offensive genius.
Press Taylor and his emergence
Press Taylor is quite a name in NFL royalty. His older brother, Zac, is the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and is considered a disciple of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay.
Taylor started as a graduate assistant at the University of Tulsa in 2011, taking the role of quarterbacks coach because it was not filled at the time. He would end up coaching GJ Kinne, and coached him to all-conference honors in 2011 before he left the school to go pro.
In 2013, Taylor was hired by Chip Kelly to the Eagles as an offensive quality control coach. When Doug Pederson was hired in 2016, Press was retained and named the the assistant quarterbacks coach. He’s been with Carson Wentz since the beginning of his NFL career, assisting John DeFilipio with quarterback coaching duties.
In 2018, after the Super Bowl victory, he was promoted again, this time to quarterbacks coach. At 33 years old, Taylor is considered to be one of the finest young coaches in the NFL.
Andrew Breiner and his addition to the coaching staff
Andrew Breiner joined the Eagles in February, fresh from two years under Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State as the quarterbacks coach there. He’s coached mobile quarterbacks most of his career, the last two years coaching three guys, two of which who are now in the NFL: Nick Fitzgerald, Tommy Stevens (drafted by the Saints in the 7th round last week), and Garrett Shrader.
Before that, he replaced Joe Moorhead as the head coach at Fordham after Moorhead left the position to coach at Penn State. He saw a lot of success at that level, becoming the most successful first-year coach (8-3) in school history.
What we can realistically expect to see from Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia
Realistically, with these three guys in place, we can see someone with Jalen Hurts’ skill set seeing success at the next level. He’s growing as a passer, he already is a devastating runner, and he’s only 21 years old – his best football is ahead of him.
So, let’s put all of these pieces together;
- The staff that the Eagles have assembled has a lot of experience of not only maximizing talent around them but have experience coaching dynamic quarterbacks like Hurts.
- This was a pre-meditated and planned move by the Eagles. Clearly, Hurts is a guy that they valued more than most players in this class, they pulled the trigger to do so and have a plan in the works for him.
- They’ve added two coaches in the last three months to help out with the passing game that has valuable experience in maximizing different skill sets at the quarterback position.
To me, this sounds like a team that wanted a cheaper, capable back-up quarterback who could be the man on the team if they happened to get to a point where Hurts is the better quarterback. Either way, if Hurts pans out into a starting caliber player, you have an asset that you can use to acquire more pieces. If you hang on to both Wentz and Hurts, you have (in theory) one of the better quarterback duos in the league.
Yes, Hurts will see some playing time early in special package concepts. They have some great coaches in place that can use his skillset and allow him to maximize his playing time to develop. This is a very good spot for Jalen Hurts to land, and it’s a very good group to coach him.