Eagles owner views Jalen Hurts as an asset

 al.com  01/13/2021 21:01:00   Mark Inabinett | minabinett@al.com

About 37 minutes into a 42-minute press conference this week, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie mentioned quarterback Jalen Hurts for the first time.

Lurie held the press conference to explain why Doug Pederson had become the second coach in NFL history fired within six years of winning the Super Bowl.

When asked why the Eagles would remain attractive to a new coach after that, Lurie listed Hurts and fellow Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz among the reasons.

Weve got two very interesting assets, Lurie said. Theyre both young. Theyre both hungry. Theyre terrific people -- very different and terrific people. A coach is going to have options. A coach is going to have an ability to fix what he feels is necessary in our offense and have a potential star in Carson and a potential star in Jalen, and that gives us an asset also, so that if we end up deciding on one someday, the other is a really good asset.

But how Pederson used those assets in the 2020 NFL season became part of the criticism directed toward the coach as the Eagles slumped from NFL champs in 2017 to 4-11-1 this season.

In 2020, Wentz tied for the league lead in interceptions and led the NFL in turnovers and sacks, even though he didnt play in the final four games. A second-round draft choice in April, Hurts took over under center for the final four games of the season while Wentz watched.

Lurie had a lot more to say about Wentz than he did about Hurts. Last year, the Eagles signed Wentz to a four-year, $128 million contract extension that starts this year.

With Pederson gone, Lurie was asked if Wentz would be on the Philadelphia roster in 2021.

I dont think any owner should decide that -- not, not at all, Lurie said. Carson to us, to me and to I think virtually everybody in our organization, is a quarterback that his first four years was in many ways elite and comparable to some of the great quarterbacks first four years in the league. Fifth year, obviously not satisfactory for whatever reasons. Therere probably multiple reasons for that, so I think the way I look at it is we have an asset and we have a talent.

Hes a great guy. He wants nothing but to win big and win Lombardi trophies for Philadelphia. This guy is tireless. He has his heart in the right place. Hes really dedicated offseason, on-season. Hes just what you want, and it behooves us as a team with a new coach, new coaching staff to be able to really get him back to that elite progression where he was capable of and at the same time understand that there have been many quarterbacks in their fourth and fifth year, if you trace this, you can come up with many, many quarterbacks that have a single year where its just Whoa. The touchdown-to-interception ratio is not what you want. And were talking some great ones, like Peyton and Ben and guys like that, so I take a more, probably longer view of this was not the best season for our offense. It was a poor season, and we also had a poor season from Carson in terms of what hes been able to show in the past. Very fixable, and I fully expect him to realize his potential.

In 2020, Wentz completed 251-of-437 passes for 2,620 yards with 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for a passing-efficiency rating of 72.8. He also ran 52 times for 276 yards and five touchdowns while playing 809 snaps.

Hurts completed 77-of-148 passes for 1,061 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions for a passing-efficiency rating of 77.6 percent. The former Alabama standout also ran 63 times for 354 yards and three touchdowns while playing 334 snaps.

Lurie said Pedersons handling of the quarterbacks, including inserting third-stringer Nate Sudfeld for the fourth quarter of the regular-season finale, wasnt why he was fired.

This kind of decision has probably multiple, multiple variables, Lurie said, but its not based on a quarterback or a particular position group.

Pederson didnt deserve to be fired, Lurie said, but thats not the deciding factor in making the change.

Its almost not fair to Doug, Lurie said, because his vision has to be: What can I do to fix this right away and what coaches can I have that can help me get to a smoother 2021? My vision is much more: How can we get back to the success weve had and what were used to in the next two, three, four, five years? And so, its not a difference of opinion. Its a difference of where were both at. I really feel it was in both of our interests to proceed on our own sort of paths that way.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at@AMarkG1.

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