The Philadelphia Eagles hold the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and after agreeing to trade former MVP candidate Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, they're widely expected to consider taking a new quarterback with that pick. Unless team owner Jeffrey Lurie gets his way. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Monday that Lurie has "instructed" his personnel department, including general manager Howie Roseman, to build around second-year man Jalen Hurts and forget about a QB competition in 2021.
Is Hurts, a second-round pick just a year ago, promising enough to warrant a bigger opportunity? Sure. Might Hurts, who flashed both poise and play-making ability in place of Wentz as a rookie, be exactly what the Eagles need under center? Sure. Would he look even better with a restocked supporting cast? Probably. Is it wrong for the team owner to express confidence in said upside? Absolutely not.
But if Lurie is, in fact, mandating these kinds of decisions -- officially or otherwise -- then the Eagles have bigger issues than QB uncertainty.
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It's one thing for an owner to be part of the decision-making process. At the end of the day, he can do whatever he wants; he owns the darn team. But there's a reason owners hire general managers and personnel people and head coaches: To do their jobs. There's a reason Eagles fans used to poke fun at other NFC East teams with "involved" owners like Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones: Stories of draft-day meddling (see: Dwayne Haskins, Robert Griffin III) and front-office quarrels became more common than on-field victories.
If Mortensen, who accurately reported Wentz's desire to leave the Eagles in their current state and start fresh elsewhere, is conveying the right information about Lurie's towering shadow, then there's no doubt the Eagles owner has joined the Jones and Snyder club. Just listen to Mort's characterization of the guy Lurie hired to replace Doug Pederson, who won a Super Bowl three calendar years ago: "They have a new head coach in Nick Sirianni, (and) he understands that what the owner wants, the owner gets."
Sounds like a really healthy collaborative setup, no?
Only those naive to the NFL landscape think all owners take a clear back seat to their personnel leaders, but again, there's a difference between recommendation and direction here. Lurie deserves as much credit as Pederson, Roseman, Wentz and everyone else for bringing a Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia in 2017. But since then, much like the other fallen figureheads of the title-winning season, he's seemingly done much more to undo the Eagles' championship hopes than maintain them.
From reportedly forcing staff changes upon Pederson after 2019 to overseeing the deterioration of a relationship with the franchise QB to somehow retaining Roseman as GM after three straight damaging seasons, it's been clear for a while that Lurie's operation -- and, by extension, his direction -- is trending in the wrong direction.
"I would not report the Eagles have internal unanimity on Hurts as QB1," Mortensen added Monday, "but ... the boss, Jeffrey Lurie, has instructed his group to prioritize making Hurts successful in 2021 as opposed to creating a true competition."
Everyone rooting and working for the Eagles had better hope, should Lurie get his wish, that he's more right about the young QB than he's ever been about anything else. Because a misfire here, whether it's passing over a talented rookie prospect like Justin Fields or Trey Lance, or simply watching as Hurts proves to be adequate rather than elite, will only prolong a rebuild that already appears to be headlined by dysfunctional leadership. Unless Hurts is so incredibly good that his own dazzling production washes over the disorder of the front office charged with supporting him, the Eagles are destined to keep stumbling right over themselves.