I have been thinking about something that the Eagles need to seriously consider, as they ponder building another championship football team. They look at quarterback Jalen Hurts and ask themselves whether he can lead them to a Super Bowl Title as a running quarterback. I ask, can you win a Super Bowl with a running quarterback? I’m not talking about a quarterback that’s mobile and able to escape pressure and extend plays like Patrick Mahomes.
I’m talking about a guy that runs the ball as much as Josh Allen. Fans and announcers get excited as he runs the ball, but can he continue to do it and stay healthy. Allen is a very young player but is he going to be able to stay healthy if he runs the ball a lot. Cam Newton is just as big as Allen and he wasn’t able to stay healthy as a running quarterback. Hurts is able to run the ball just like these two quarterbacks because he’s got good speed and quickness.
I think a running quarterback takes as many hits has a running back. So I ask, is it reasonable to expect a running back to stay healthy all the time? Even the Titans great Superman running back Derrick Henry was injured for most of the season. I don’t know if there are any running backs, who have been in the NFL over four or five years, who have been able to stay healthy all the time. Running the football in the National Football League is hard on the body.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is a perfect example of Hurts. Like the Eagles have done with Hurts, Jackson has been a major part of the Ravens rushing attack. In fact he’s done it so well that he has used his legs to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award, but the running has caught up to him and he missed most of the 2021 season. Newton took the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl, but injuries have sidelined him for extended periods of time.
Does it make sense to believe that you can have a running quarterback lead you to a Super Bowl title and stay healthy in the process? Can you be a serious Super Bowl threat consistently year after year with a running quarterback? Those are the questions that the Eagles must ask as they think about how they need to utilize Hurts in the future.
If we look at the quarterbacks who have their teams in the Super Bowl hunt year after year like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson, you see that they are pocket quarterbacks, who only run to extend plays, not as a designed play. If you look at a guy like Wilson, who has had the Seahawks in the hunt year after year, he uses his legs, but he avoids taking hits from the defense. He will run in open areas, but when defenders get around him, he gets on the ground. He rarely gets hurt, but did suffer a hand injury this season and it destroyed Seattle’s playoff hopes.
That brings us to the Eagles situation with Hurts playing a very important role in the running game. Not only has he used his legs to scramble when opportunities arose, the Eagles run a lot of run, pass option plays where his running is a key part of the play. It worked well and helped to make the Birds the number one running teams in the NFL. That’s great, but what should they do going forward.
I am of the belief that if you have a quarterback that runs the ball all the time, that quarterback is not going to stay healthy. You may thrive for awhile, but you’re not going to have year after year success because you won’t be able to keep him healthy.
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I think head coach Nick Sirianni and his staff need to continue to press Hurts to operate from the pocket. He’s made strides but he still has a ways to go. They need to become more and more reliant upon Hurts arm and the team’s passing game. They can continue to utilize the run pass option plays, but Hurts needs to get on the ground when defenders get near him. He needs to study tapes of Russell Wilson and get on the ground when any tacklers come in the area.