Everyone seems in agreement that the Philadelphia Eagles won the offseason. Will those good spring vibes translate into a championship this winter? Well, it all depends on the starting quarterback.
Jalen Hurts is the key to everything. The second-year starter has to improve his passing numbers from the 2021 campaign while looking more comfortable in the pocket. If he does that, the Eagles should be able to compete with anyone in the NFC. It’s a common sentiment being shared around NFL circles.
“I think a lot of teams have improved. Let’s take the Philadelphia Eagles, for example,” NFL Insider Michael Lombardi told After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I mean, they think they are going to be really good this year and they may be, but they haven’t improved at the quarterback position. Now if they do – if Jalen Hurts plays better – certainly you have to think that they’re going to be an improved team.”
Hurts has all the intangibles and the whole city is cheering for him. No one will ever question his work ethic, especially not his teammates. Right tackle Lane Johnson knows first-hand from seeing the way he has attacked the offseason. He’s the first one in the gym and the last one out, doing it all with a calming presence.
“Man, a lot of it goes down to what you do every day,” Johnson told the GoJo podcast. “He works his ass off. What I liked about him is he always has a calm demeanor about him. It’s like with a head coach, same with Andy Reid, or guys like Bill Belichick. Guys that are always calm under pressure or if they’re in a bad situation they don’t show it. Teams feed off that energy, so when you have that presence, it keeps the team calm in the huddle and in the games.”
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Power Lifter, Lower-Body Strength
Hurts has become a bit of a legendary figure due to those viral videos showing him at the Bro Barn on Johnson’s property in New Jersey. He was seen deadlifting 620 pounds in 2021. The quarterback has insane lower-body strength, stemming from his time as a power lifter in high school.
“He is super strong. He was a power lifter in high school,” Johnson told Mike Golic Jr. “He’s got a crazy strong squat, deadlift, things like that. I’m excited about this year. I know we loaded up with A.J. Brown, the offense is looking good. We got some good guys in the draft. On paper we’re looking really good right now but as you know that can change.
“That can go away real quick. You got to take it day by day. But, yea man, Jalen’s looking good. I think he’s a little more muscular from what he was last year. It’s always nice having a quarterback who has the mobility, escape-ability, in the pocket that makes it easier for the O-line.”
Josh Sweat Named ‘Most Underrated Player’
Defensive end Josh Sweat was named the “most underrated player” on the Eagles in an ESPN/Football Outsiders list detailing the most overlooked players for all 32 teams. They are expecting big things out of the 25-year-old pass rusher who signed a team-friendly three-year extension in 2021. They wrote:
Who led the Eagles in hurries last year? Was it Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett or Javon Hargrave? No. It was fourth-year edge Josh Sweat, with 25 hurries and a team-high 7.5 sacks. Sweat’s three-year extension with Philadelphia will see him never have a cap hit above $6.1 million until 2024. Meanwhile, even with Haason Reddick onboard, Sweat might already be the most powerful edge on the team.