Eagles

Are the 2020 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

Are the 2020 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

Executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman says the Eagles are a better football team after free agency and the draft. We're putting his claim to the test, breaking down the depth chart position by position to examine whether the roster really improved or actually took a step back this offseason.

Up first: Quarterbacks, where the Eagles unexpectedly invested a second-round draft pick in Jalen Hurts.

Better

Josh McCown may have been a great person to have in the quarterback room, but he's a career backup for a reason — plus, he's 40.

There's no guarantee Hurts' career will turn out any better than McCown's. At the very least, though, his mobility adds another dimension to the offense, whether that's in a Taysom Hill-like role or stepping in for Carson Wentz. Hurts has sub-4.6 speed and a plenty strong arm, not to mention displayed accuracy, toughness and leadership at the college level. You don't have to agree with the Eagles' use of a second-round pick, but Hurts is a gifted athlete.

Worse

Of course, say what you want about McCown. Sometimes there's just no substitute for 18 years of professional football experience — on or off the field.

Between Hurts, Nate Sudfeld and Kyle Lauletta, Eagles backups have attempted 30 NFL passes, so should one of them need to step in for Wentz, there's really no telling what you're getting. The trio has also spent one-third of McCown's time in the league and aren't mentoring Wentz behind the scenes, either.

The same

It's safe to say Wentz was back to his old self by the end of 2019, a full two years removed from his ACL injury. Not only did he eclipse 4,000 yards passing for the first time. He was also back to making plays with his legs. Wentz can still clean up aspects of his game, recognizing when to give up on a play and either throwing the ball away or hitting the deck chief among them. He's also a relatively young quarterback with only 56 starts under his belt.

And after guiding the Eagles to the playoffs with Greg Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Deontay Burnett as his primary receivers, he probably deserves a little slack.

The unknown

Now that Hurts is in the fold, who's actually the backup quarterback here? Conventional wisdom would suggest the job belongs to the 53rd overall pick — but conventional wisdom kind of flew out the window when he was chosen.

Sudfeld might be in the mix for a number of reasons. He's entering his fourth year in the offense, whereas Hurts will have an abbreviated offseason to learn the system.

Then again, Sudfeld was supposed to be the backup last season, and the Eagles wound up signing McCown in August, so it's unclear how much trust is there. If Hurts develops quickly, perhaps Sudfeld is traded or released, with Lauletta serving as the emergency quarterback.

Better or worse?

McCown's value to the Eagles was rooted more in the knowledge he could impart to Wentz than what he does on a football field. But while Hurts has much greater upside, will he be ready to perform at a high level as a rookie? Clearly, the club doesn't believe Sudfeld is a better option than McCown.

Yet, looking back to the playoffs, when McCown entered the game against the Seahawks, he didn't move the offense across the goal line. Even if Hurts isn't the most polished passer right away, you have to believe his mobility could provide a spark at least. Nor could Sudfeld have done much worse.

Weigh the expectation Wentz continues to gradually improve, and while it may be close, this is definitely a more talented group. 

Better 

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Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

On Friday, two days before Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19, several of his assistant coaches spoke about how effective they believe the Eagles’ safety protocols are inside the NovaCare Complex and how safe they consider the facility.

The Eagles, under the direction of vice president of football operations and compliance Jon Ferrari, reconfigured the South Philadelphia facility over the last several weeks to comply with NFL safety measures once the players arrived.

On Monday, the Eagles' so-called IDER plan – that stands for Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan – was approved by the league, meaning the team's plan to deal with the virus in the facility met the safety standards required by the league and the players' association.

Yet here we are.

Without knowing how or where Pederson contracted the virus, it’s impossible to determine whether the safety measures are working. 

If nobody else in the building contracts it, they’re working. If it turns out there are additional positive tests within the building in the coming days, it’s possible that even the strictest adherence to the safety measures isn’t enough.

We’ll know more in the coming days, but offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, running backs coach and assistant head coach (and interim head coach) Duce Staley and special teams coach Dave Fipp all spoke on Friday about how effective the measures the Eagles took to create a safe working environment appeared to be.

Stoutland: “Coming through the front door, going through the gate, getting tested each morning, I gotta tell you guys, I’ve never felt more safe in my life. I told my wife that, I told my kids that. Mr. (Jeff) Lurie, he cares about his team, his coaches, and just proves it once again with the group of people that he’s put together to organize this whole operation. It’s all different, it’s all new, (team president) Don Smolenski, Jon Ferrari, it’s unbelievable. Every little detail that’s going on right now, the door handles, everything that I notice, I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, they think of everything to keep us safe.’ That part of it is great I think for all of us because it kind of lets you (know), ‘OK, let me just focus on my job and detail what I have to do and the other stuff, we’re good. We’re going to be in good hands.’”

Staley: “We have to be careful, that’s something that all coaches are being redundant with. We’re talking with our players, we’re talking amongst ourselves. We’re all reminding each other how serious this is, reminding ourselves as coaches and reminding the players. This is a different time for us and as a team we must make the adjustments so we can be successful down the road. We must make the adjustments. I think the Eagles, this organization, Howie, Jeffery, along with Jon Ferrari, they’ve got a great plan here for us while we’re in the building, so we feel 100 percent safe in the building. Now, we understand everything going on, how it can be contracted, but we feel safe.”

Fipp: “I think common sense is the biggest thing. Gotta be smart, obviously. There’s definitely an issue going on out there. I think we feel good about it as long as we wear masks and take care of our responsibility outside the building. I feel great about being inside the building.”

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Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tests positive for COVID-19

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tests positive for COVID-19

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive for COVID-19, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

Pederson, 52, is asymptomatic and is feeling well at this time, the source said. 

ESPN’s Tim McManus first reported that Pederson informed his players on Sunday night after a second positive test. 

The Eagles later released the following statement: 

Most of the Eagles' meetings are still virtual and Pederson will be able to lead them. But assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley will handle any head coaching responsibilities in the building while Pederson is away, according to a source. Pederson will have to follow the NFL's protocols before returning to the NovaCare Complex. 

Pederson is the second known NFL head coach to test positive for COVID-19 after Saints’ head coach Sean Payton had it in March. 

Just last week, Pederson said he felt “extremely safe” inside the NovaCare Complex. 

“Obviously, coming into it there might have been some skepticism about the testing and the screenings that go on, but it’s very thorough,” Pederson said to reporters on a Zoom call last week. “When you’re here and you get tested in the morning, you’ve got a screening process that you have to go through to get into the building, wearing masks in the building, everywhere we go, I feel extremely safe.”

According to ESPN, it is believed Pederson contracted the coronavirus outside of the NovaCare Complex. ESPN also reported that QBs coach/pass game coordinator Press Taylor, who was in close contact with Pederson, was also sent home. He has tested negative but will follow protocol before returning. 

Last week, the Eagles placed three players — Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata and Nathan Gerry — on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The Reserve/COVID-19 list is for players who either test positive or who have been exposed to someone who has. Johnson later announced that he tested positive. 

In addition to the three players put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Eagles also had one player opt out already. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin opted out of the season because of family reasons. 

After testing positive, Pederson will obviously miss some time at the facility. Pederson last Monday stressed the need for contingency plans, not just for players, but for coaches too. 

“We have to have a plan for everything as you know,” he said. “One of the things that we've been faced with, and I think we've done a really good job here is we've overcome some of the injuries we've had the last couple of seasons. We've coached that next guy, or that next player has been able to go in and perform at a high level, but now I think that has to carry over to the coaching staff as you mentioned.

“I think there has to be a plan in place for any coach or any staff member that may miss a couple days or a couple weeks because of the virus.

“So those are all things that are running through my mind. Again, we are in a different environment and we all have to do our part to protect ourselves, protect our players and our families and hopefully we minimize any setbacks.”

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