Jalen Hurts has now played 21 games as the Eagles’ starting quarterback, and their 24-7 win over the Vikings on Monday night was his best hour in those 21. He threw for 333 yards and a touchdown, ran for 57 yards and two more TDs, sharp and authoritative in every way. It was a great performance, and it was almost enough to make you forget that he wasn’t supposed to be the Eagles’ quarterback on Monday night. The guy they face this Sunday at FedEx Field was. The guy they had to get rid of was. Carson Wentz was.
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As it turns out, this is an ideal time to have the Eagles playing Wentz and the Washington Commanders – not necessarily ideal for the Eagles, but ideal for everyone who roots for and follows them. Everyone around here remembers 2020, the year Wentz and the Eagles went bad: the drafting of Hurts, Wentz’s lousy play that season, his benching, all the turmoil that led to his trade to the Colts in February 2021 . That likely inflection point was an ESPN story that broke on the night of the Eagles’ final game of the 2020 season, a story that said Wentz’s relationship with Doug Pederson and the team, less than two years after he signed a massive contract extension, “is broken out beyond that. repair.” Oh, yes, everyone remembers that.
Here’s what everyone might have in mind: Five years ago, Wentz was hurting. Wentz was in his second full season as the Eagles’ starter, as is Hurts. Wentz was the young leader of a team that had the look and feel of a Super Bowl contender, just like Hurts is. Wentz beamed the nation on Monday Night Football with his arm and legs and durability, just like Hurts did.
I’m not suggesting that Hurts is a threat to fuel the Eagles’ schemes in the same way that Wentz did. It’s not – not now, anyway. But then, that’s the point. No one thought Wentz was that much of a threat at that stage of his career, either. No one could see what was coming, because no one ever can, and the same principle applies to the Eagles now. Monday’s win was impressive, but it was one game, the second of a 17-game regular season. There is still a long way to go for Hurts and for this team, and all the big revelations about him and the Eagles are likely to come later. Maybe they’re this good, and maybe the curse of covering sports for a long time is that you remember all the occasions when the Eagles and their quarterback were supposed to take the NFL by storm and, for whatever reason , no. Perhaps, when everyone is climbing on the hype train, there is something to be said for the person who keeps a loose grip on the handbrake.
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Go back to October 23, 2017, for example, when Wentz threw four touchdown passes for the Eagles in a 34-24 win against Washington. If you had said, right after that game, that the Eagles would win the Super Bowl that season without Wentz, that their victory would in many ways have caused him to fall from grace with the franchise and the city , that Wentz would soon be. considered a disappointment and one of Philadelphia’s great sports villains, people wouldn’t have believed you. At best, they would have been thrilled that the Eagles would win a championship, with or without Wentz. At worst, they’d have thought you got a kick out of dropping stinkers in the fan base’s punch bowl. But it wouldn’t have made your predictions any less accurate or subtle.
It’s easy for people to get swept up in the good vibes they feel after the Eagles’ emphatic victory, for local TV anchors to start wearing Kelly green face paint and reporters to take on the mood of the cheerleaders. It’s easy to make statements like Jalen Hurts just proved he’s a franchise quarterback! or The Eagles are the favorites in the NFC! It happens all the time, and it’s natural and understandable. McNabb finds Freddie Mitchell on fourth and 26. Michael Vick leads a miraculous comeback in the Meadowlands. Wentz escapes a sack like Houdini in a box. You start texting family and friends to find out who can bring a case of lager and a couple of soft pretzel trays to your house for a Super Bowl party.
And who knows? Perhaps the Eagles will stay at this level, playing this well, throughout the season. Hurts may show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when the Eagles drafted him to be their backup quarterback, they did more than set off the chain of events that led to Wentz’s departure, that they actually stumble into his latest star. Remember: all it takes is one look at the home side on Sunday to remind you of how everything was supposed to go for the Eagles once upon a time, and how it did.