And with the 33rd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected quarterback Jalen Hurts out of Oklahoma. It was a magical moment for the 22-year-old, who was only one year removed from transferring to the Sooners from the University of Alabama, where he lost his starting seat to eventual fifth-overall pick Tua Tagovailoa. The Eagles were roundly scolded by pundits and fans alike for selecting Hurts, mostly because it was seen as a slap in the face to Carson Wentz -- to whom they awarded a four-year extension in 2019 that included $107 million guaranteed.
Only 18 months after Wentz penned his then record-setting deal, and only eight months after Hurts caught his flight to Philadelphia, the latter has now supplanted the former as starting QB for the Eagles, at least for Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. Hurts entered the game against the Green Bay Packers for a benched Wentz and threw his first career NFL touchdown, providing a "spark" head coach Doug Pederson is hoping will carry over to coming Sunday.
For his part, Hurts is through the roof at the opportunity, having barely played prior to last week.
"I've been ready to answer the phone," he told media on Wednesday, via NBC Philadelphia. "It rang. I answered."
Hurts did toss an interception as well but finished with 109 yards passing on 12 attempts. That was 30 more yards on three fewer attempts than Wentz, who had no touchdowns before getting the hook, and Hurts also contributed 29 rushing yards -- adding a dynamic absent when Wentz was under center: escapability.
He attributes his readiness not only to on-the-field preparation, but also his support system.
"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my parents," he said. "My parents found out before I told them. As a kid, you grow up, you dream of opportunities like this."
Time will ultimately tell if he plays well as starter at the professional level, and for the Eagles -- an organization with rabid fans who lack patience and demand success immediately. Should he do so, the future of Wentz becomes that much more muddied, especially when factoring in his contract and the fact Philadelphia would be on a massive hook if they attempted to release him.
The more likely swing would be for a potential trade to get from beneath the financial weight, but they'd likely have to do some serious wooing of potential suitors to convince a general manager to give up an asset (or more) for the right to take on the behemoth salary cap hit with the hopes of Wentz being the future of their respective franchise -- as the Eagles once believed him to be for theirs.
, in part because of the regression of Wentz, these final four games will be quite telling for the Eagles, who might undergo seismic shifts in the offseason.