Second-round pick Jalen Hurts made his NFL debut last Sunday as Nate Sudfeld watched on in a baseball cap.
It’s hard to envision that changing.
It seems like Hurts has simply taken over the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback job and won’t give it up. But head coach Doug Pederson on Friday said that was a decision based on game plan, not necessarily depth chart.
“Well, obviously, yeah, in Jalen's case, he has a skill set that we saw in college, obviously, and just felt like it was an opportunity to maybe get him sort of coming just a little bit,” Pederson said on Friday. “It's nothing against Nate Sudfeld or any of that. We feel we have two really good backup quarterbacks. It's a week-to-week decision, quite frankly, based on opponent, based on game plan and things like that.
“But the things we had in last week for him, he handled well and it's a small drop in the bucket I think to probably getting his career off and running at some point."
Are the Eagles really going week-to-week with their backup quarterbacks? It seems unlikely. After all, the team used a second-round pick on Hurts and Sudfeld isn’t expected to be back in 2021.
If Hurts is ready? Why not keep him as the No. 2.
Really, it seems like Pederson didn’t want it to look like this decision was a reflection on Sudfeld, who, by all accounts, hasn’t done anything wrong. But even in training camp, those two were splitting second-team reps and it probably got to a point where the Eagles couldn’t justify having Hurts as their No. 3, especially given the added dynamic he brings to the team.
Because even if Carson Wentz is still at quarterback, the Eagles can still find ways to get Hurts on the field like they did in Week 2. Sudfeld wouldn’t make for a very dynamic decoy.
Hurts got just three offensive snaps in Week 2, but he made the most of them. He didn’t even touch the ball but still drew a ton of attention from the Rams’ defense.
“He's done a great job,” quarterbacks coach Press Taylor said. “We feel like all our quarterbacks, they are responsible for knowing everybody's role at every single time. If there is a time, we throw Jalen in there, we don't look at it as he's a receiver. We look at it as we are getting two quarterbacks on the field.
“We are threatening the defense in some way, shape or form, either with what we are doing or what we could possibly present to the defense in some way, shape or form. So every time we do something like that it's purely to give our offense an advantage and threaten the defense another way.”
While using Hurts as a decoy worked in Week 2, the obvious progression here would be for him to touch the ball and, eventually, throw a pass. The Eagles see Hurts out there as another QB, but other teams might not until the Eagles use him more and let him throw.
Of course, if Hurts ends up having an expanded role in the offense, it would leave him susceptible to taking hits and possibly getting injured. Not long ago, Pederson mentioned he would like to keep all three quarterbacks active on game day if possible.
So there might be some weeks where we won’t really know who the No. 2 quarterback is — they might both be active.
But it’s safe to say Hurts has earned the role for now. And there’s no reason to think the Eagles won’t use him more going forward.
“I think defenses are going to honor him just because they know what he can do based on college,” Miles Sanders said. “We drafted him for a reason, so they’re probably going to think, even if we’re not doing anything really special with him, they’ll think something’s going to happen just because he’s back there and the type of player he is. He can make anything happen, and that’s really about it."