PHILADELPHIA — For the second game in a row, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie sent the franchise in the direction of quarterback Jalen Hurts, raising questions and concerns.
Sources say Luria influenced Sick’s selection in April. He wasn’t alone on the island – former coach Doug Pederson was looking for a young QB to develop, and general manager Howie Roseman was reportedly on board as well – but Lurie wanted Hurts. And when bosses want something, they usually get it.
Philadelphia used its second-round pick (No. 53) for the Oklahoma product, despite quarterback Carson Wentz signing a four-year, $128 million contract. Hurts showed promise in his four starts as a rookie, but using a high pick for Hurts and leaving for a struggling Wentz played a big role in the deterioration of Wentz’ relationship with the organization.
Last month, the Eagles reached a deal with the Indianapolis Colts to contract Wentz for a pair of draft picks. If the agreement at 17. If March becomes official, Philadelphia will suffer the largest dead-zone loss in league history at $33.8 million.
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Pain is the only quarterback from last season. Even with NFL Free Agency and before the 2021 NFL Draft, Lurie is handing over the keys for the 2021 campaign. He tasked the team with helping Hurts succeed this season instead of making a real quarterback, a source told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen – another sign that the Eagles’ owner has become understanding.
Lewery’s involvement in football personnel and operations began after the 2013-15 era of coach Chip Kelly, when Lewery sometimes felt alienated from his own club and reportedly told confidants before Kelly was fired that he wanted the team back.
There were signs that he did, as Lurie led the push to re-contract Sam Bradford in the 2016 offseason and went to the Senior Bowl in January to evaluate Wentz and the 2016 draft class. During Pederson’s tenure, he held weekly meetings with Pederson and Roseman to delve into football. He prevented then-quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo from applying for the offensive coordinator job with the New York Jets in 2017 and prevented Pederson from honoring a request from his mentor, mostly former Eagles coach Andy Reid.
And Lurie fired Pederson this season when the coach couldn’t present a vision for the future that the owner could accept, even as other power brokers tried to defuse the situation to keep the Super Bowl-winning coach in the ranks.
Lurie’s influence is widely felt, from the organization’s strong preference for analytics to considerations of management composition. But the quarterback position is of particular importance. Knowing how important QBs are to the success of the franchise, Luria has become a student of the position. He is involved in the acquisition process. His philosophy of investing heavily in quarterbacks has been a key organizing principle and has led to some big successes, like Nick Foles’ Super Bowl win, but also some tentative stories, like the one that developed with Pain and a disgruntled Wentz.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie’s Eagles will bolster the quarterback position via free agency and/or the draft, but as it stands Jalen Hurts will enter the 2021 season as the presumptive starter. Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports
Luria’s pain directive may have something to do with the Eagles’ recent history. The 2020 season showed what a disaster it can be when the QB1 doesn’t feel fully supported. Teaching your employees not to participate in legitimate competition for injuries can be seen in part as a response.
One wonders if this is an overreaction. At least the pain is much less proven than last season, in which Wentz participated. He showed strong leadership in a tough situation and boosted the offense when he was brought into the lineup, but he cooled off late in the season, finishing with 52 percent completion and six touchdowns against four interceptions while running for 354 yards and three scores.
Four games is too small a sample size to determine if he can be a good starter in the pros.
The Eagles are limited in the kind of veterans they can bring in because of their salary situation, but they are the 6th best team in the league. There are plenty of potential quarterbacks in this class, including Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mack Jones. The Eagles don’t often finish in the top 10, making this a unique opportunity for them.
When a premier quarterback is in a competitive class, Lurie’s decision to sit out comes before coach Nick Sirianni and his staff have had a chance to meet and fully evaluate the prospect. The Eagles’ staff usually meets in April, after all pro days are over, to go over the coaches’ evaluations as the team builds its draft stock.
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In other words: Not all relevant voices were fully heard.
It would be naive to think that league owners are not involved in important personnel decisions, especially when it comes to the quarterback position. The question is this: Where is the border?
Before last year’s lineup, opinions were divided in the Eagles’ building. He wasn’t the biggest player on Philadelphia’s roster when he was drafted, according to sources. Was it wise of Lurie & Co to be aggressive and take the QB they wanted a little early so they wouldn’t miss the boat like they did when they waited too long for Russell Wilson in 2012? Or did the owner’s enthusiasm for the player derail things?
Should the owner be involved in the evaluation of the staff, or does he or she interfere with the process and work of the contracted experts? What kind of message is sent to the locker room about the new coach when the decision to go with a quarterback is over his head?
Those questions revolve around the Eagles, who are picking up where they left off from a disastrous season (4-11-1) that was marred by a divorce from their former quarterback.
In the meantime, an answer has come: Yes, Luria is actively involved, and increasingly so, for better or worse.