Eagles

Where does Hurts rank among NFC East quarterbacks?

Eagles

The NFC East was a historically bad division in 2020, which is why all four teams were in the race deep into the season. Eventually, Washington took it.

Washington: 7-9

Giants: 6-10

Cowboys: 6-10

Eagles: 4-11-1

This season, the division is up for grabs yet again. We’re ranking the division by position group, starting with quarterbacks:

1. Cowboys: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Garrett Gilbert

Yes, Prescott is the best quarterback in the division and it’s not particularly close. I did my league-wide rankings earlier this spring and had Prescott as the No. 8 quarterback in the league. There’s Dak at the top and then the rest of the division is wayyy behind him.

This season, Prescott is coming off that nasty ankle injury that ended his 2020 season after just five games. Before then, he was on a blistering pace, largely because the only chance the Cowboys had to win was to put up huge numbers because of how bad their defense was. But Prescott was slinging it. This offseason, he was rewarded with a four-year, $160 million contract. Is Prescott overpaid? You can make that argument. Right now, he’s the second-highest paid quarterback in the league and isn’t a top five QB. But there’s no questioning that he’s the best quarterback in the division.

Before that ankle injury last season, Prescott hadn’t missed a game in the first four years of his career. And in 2019, he threw for nearly 5,000 yards with 30 touchdowns. He was well on his way to topping those numbers in 2020 before the injury. And with receivers like Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, there’s no reason to think he’s going to slow down soon.

 

The Cowboys really struggled without Prescott last year but he’s so much better than the other quarterbacks in the division that the backups don’t even matter.

2. Washington: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen

Washington was in a tough spot with the No. 19 pick in the draft. They could have pulled off some big move to get up and draft a quarterback like the Bears did with Justin Fields, but instead Washington stayed put. They’re going to start Fitzpatrick for the 2021 season.

At this point in his career, Fitzpatrick kind of is what he is. He’s a functional starting quarterback who will at times make great plays and at other times make head-scratching decisions and turn the ball over. This will be his ninth team and in his career Fitz has 223 touchdowns to 169 interceptions. Can Washington win with Fitzpatrick? Sure. He was even playing fairly well last year before the Dolphins decided to go with Tua Tagovailoa to start their future.

For whatever reason, Fitzpatrick has played very well against the Eagles recently, one game with Tampa in 2018 and one with the Dolphins in 2019. In those two Eagles losses, he threw for a combined 767 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Fitzpatrick is clearly an upgrade but Heinicke might not be a bad backup. He at least has some intriguing skills.

3. Eagles: Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco, Nick Mullens

It’s hard to figure out where to put Hurts in any ranking because there’s not a large body of work. He started just four games last season and there were ups and downs. On one hand, he clearly provided the Eagles with a spark and had flashes where he looked like a dual threat quarterback who could become the team’s future. But he also completed just 52% of his passes and ended up with a 6-4 TD to INT ratio.

But how the heck do you evaluate Hurts based on last year’s season? It’s really tough. The entire offense was broken, the offensive line was decimated by injuries, the receivers were making rookie mistakes and the play caller was lost. This year will give us a much better evaluation of Hurts.

There’s a lot to like about him. That doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns about Hurts — if there weren’t, he would have been a first round pick — but he has ability. And if Nick Sirianni can create an offense that plays to his strengths as a passer and as a runner, Hurts could be in for a big second season.

Flacco might not be what he once was but at least he’s an established veteran as a backup. And Mullens is actually a pretty good No. 3.

4. Giants: Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon, Clayton Thorson

 

While Hurts gets the benefit of the doubt because we haven’t seen him play very much, Jones doesn’t. We’ve now seen two seasons of Jones and while there have been some great stretches, he didn’t take the step in Year 2 Giants fans hoped he would. In fact, his numbers took a great hit. In Year 1, Jones threw for 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and in Year 2 he threw just 11 touchdowns and 10 picks. That’s not good enough.

Of course, the Giants were all out of whack last year too and the franchise has worked hard to get him some help this offseason. If there was a year for Jones to make a jump, this would be it. He has a good arm and is more mobile than you think, but he has to stop turning the ball over in order to put it all together.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Glennon was given a big contract and expected to be a starter. That didn’t work out but he’s an adequate backup. Thorson is the former Eagles’ fifth-round pick.

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