The Eagles went into the 2021 season with one question that loomed over any other.
Is Jalen Hurts the franchise QB?
Sure, it would be interesting to see players like DeVonta Smith, Darius Slay, Landon Dickerson and Jason Kelce, but Hurts was more pressing. You could have your franchise QB here, and you need a full 17 game evaluation to see that. Well, 16. Maybe 15.
Jalen Hurts did not play Week 13 against the Jets due to an ankle injury, which he is still struggling with even after the bye week. Nick Sirianni said that Hurts is trending upward, but will split reps with backup QB Gardner Minshew this week. They listed him as a full participant after the Eagles game was delayed from Sunday at 1 PM to Tuesday at 7 PM.
Anyway, back to my main point. Assuming he is healthy, the next four weeks of the season are on the shoulders of Jalen Hurts. Sure, the Eagles have gone far with their run heavy offense, which they should especially use this week against a depleted Washington DL. But Hurts is going to have to come to a point where he can complete the difficult throws, not just the checkdowns and wide open passes to Dallas Goedert.
Although Quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray use their legs a lot, they are still capable passers and are on some of the best teams in the NFL. Jalen Hurts runs as much as they do, but he has struggled to throw the ball consistently basically his whole career. We saw that on full display against the Giants, where Hurts threw 3 picks and only 129 yards in a 13-7 loss.
It also probably didn't help that the week after Hurts put up that questionable performance, Gardner Minshew came in and straight up balled against the Jets with Hurts watching on the sideline. But, in my eyes, that doesnt matter. Although Minshew maybe gives you as good of a chance to win as Hurts, the Eagles promised themselves that they would use this season to evaluate Hurts' chance to be their guy.
Here's a look at the 4 game stretch the Eagles have coming up:
Week 15: Washington @ Eagles(Tuesday, December 21st at 7 PM)
Week 16: Giants @ Eagles(Sunday, December 26th at 1 PM)
Week 17: Eagles @ Washington(Sunday, January 2nd at 1 PM)
Week 18: Cowboys @ Eagles(Sunday, January 9th at 1 PM)
Most people already know that the Eagles basically have their route to the playoffs right in front of them. Win the next 4 games, and they will almost be guaranteed to be in the playoffs. Week 15 seems less tough with Washington dealing with their COVID issues, but you really never know with the NFC East. Although the Giants game should be easy in theory, the Eagles did lose to them 3 weeks ago off the back of a horrid Hurts performance. Then Washington again, before closing with Dallas, who may or may not be playing their starters. After Tampa's loss last night however, it seems like it would be more likely that they are.
The point is that it's a relatively easy 3 games before that Cowboys game, which could be really easy depending on how the NFL world comes out by Week 18. If Jalen Hurts can rack off 4 straight wins, leading the Eagles to the 7 seed in the NFC, that has to be enough to show the organization that he deserves a second full season as the starter. Even if 4/4 wins isnt enough to make the playoffs, the Eagles organization has to see something assuming Hurts plays really well down this stretch.
If you were to ask me for a prediction on how Jalen Hurts is going to play in these next 4 games, I really couldn't tell you. My gut tells me he is going to step up and lead this team to the playoffs, but another part of me thinks back to that disaster that was the Giants game. The playoffs are right there, Hurts and the whole team know it.
A huge discussion has sprung over the last 14 days about how long Hurts' leash is, and when the Eagles could decide to bench him. Honestly, I think you let him ride it out no matter what. Unless Hurts is clearly being ailed by his ankle injury during a game, you owe it to him and yourselves to let him finish this season. No disrespect to Gardner Minshew, who I think is decent but still flawed, but this season is not about him.
Instead of talking about Minshew, Deshaun Watson, Russel Wilson, Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral, I say Eagles fans should truly give Hurts a chance to finish out this season.