Eagles QB Named ‘Guaranteed Riser’: NFC East Title Contenders?

Gardner Minshew

Getty Images Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Philadelphia Eagles dedicated the offseason to making Jalen Hurts more comfortable. They signed his best friend. They brought back his offensive play-caller. They decided not to draft a quarterback. And they significantly upgraded the defense.

Yes, all the pieces appear to be in place for a lengthy postseason run. The only variable is Hurts. Can he take the next step in his development and turn into a pocket passer? Well, the second-year starter looked the part during the team’s abbreviated OTA sessions. And the national media is jumping on the Hurts’ hype train.

NFL Media’s Adam Schein is a believer in the dual-threat quarterback: “I believe. I love the arm, the smarts, the athleticism.” He thinks Hurts can lead the Eagles to the NFC East title over the Dallas Cowboys.

And now I love the talent around him, with A.J. Brown joining DeVonta Smith to comprise quite a 1-2 punch at wide receiver. Brown’s catch-and-run ability and Smith’s pristine route-running will mitigate Hurts’ inaccuracy issues. And now that the quarterback has a full year’s experience as an NFL starter — as well as coaching continuity, with head man Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen back for Year 2 — I think his clutch play will skyrocket.

Hurts is a winner and a natural born leader. This fall, I see him guiding the Eagles to an NFC East title. And you better believe this team will be a tough out in January.

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Hurts Has Improved Footwork, Hip Flexibility

Physically, Hurts looked a little leaner during OTA sessions. Muscular and sculpted, but carrying less weight — and Hurts looked lighter on his feet. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen mentioned that the 23-year-old quarterback had better “hip flexibility,” which is the direct result of all the extra attention devoted to footwork.

“I think maybe hip flexibility, all those different things,” Steichen told reporters on June 3. “Because when you throw, obviously you have the arm, but a lot of stuff takes place in the lower half. It’s all about your feet, it’s all about your base. So, improving that, the base, your lower half and the strength of loading off your back foot.

“When you watch boxers, they’re loaded on their back foot and they’re punching, and that’s the same as a quarterback. You want to stay loaded on your back foot when you’re delivering the ball and getting your target line where it needs to be, and he’s been doing nice job of that so far.”

Seahawks Pursuing Gardner Minshew?

The Gardner Minshew trade rumors have quieted down in recent weeks, although one team could make a late play for the veteran quarterback. Tim Weaver of Seahawks Wire called Minshew the “most low-risk, high-reward asset in the NFL.” He put him at the top of a list of potential quarterback trade targets for Seattle in 2022.

To be clear, the Eagles have not seriously considered dealing the 26-year-old backup who holds an 8-14 career record as a starter. He has thrown for 5,969 yards and 41 touchdowns (12 interceptions) while completing 63.2% of his passes in 27 games.

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