PHILADELPHIA - In one fell swoop, the Eagles quarterback situation turned from concrete to fluid and the lynchpin to it all was 36-year-old veteran backup Joe Flacco.
That's because Flacco was more than the QB2 in Philadelphia, he was the buffer between Jalen Hurts' opportunity being pushed by the intrigue of Gardner Minshew, a former starter in Jacksonville.
When Flacco was dealt back to the New York Jets on Monday for a conditional sixth-round pick that bulwark was removed from the equation and all of a sudden the young and unproven Hurts is at the helm of a struggling 2-5 team with another young, slightly more proven commodity, behind him in Minshew, a 20-game starter with the Jags.
Hurts also no longer has the sounding board in the QB room that has seen it all and sone in all over his 14 NFL seasons.
"I think there is an age factor that does matter," Hurts told Si.com's Eagle Maven when asked about losing his backup in-season on Wednesday. "And a maturity factor. Having that in the room, a guy that’s won the Super Bowl, seen so much, double-digit years in the league. He has more years than all of us combined in the room now. So it definitely means a lot to me, but I just lean on my coaches and on Gardner, and we’ll continue to get it rolling."
Furthermore, Hurts is struggling himself, completing less than 60 percent of his passes in each of the last three games but the second-year starter remains nonplused believing the offense, currently ranked 21st in the league, is close to putting things together.
"You can’t be results-oriented," he said. "You have to trust the process. Sometimes you have so many different things going on, where [critics] trying to take you off what the main thing is. Keep the main thing the main thing. It’s just work, get better every day.
"It’ll turn over. It’ll turn over. I believe that."
Coach Nick Sirianni expressed a similar sentiment earlier when he compared the team's growth to a flower's roots.
"The results aren't there right now, but what's going on here is that there's growth under the soil," the rookie mentor claimed. "I put a picture of a flower up, and it's coming through the ground, and the roots are growing out. The roots are continuing to grow out. Everybody wants to see results."
As for the new look in the QB room, which includes recent waiver-wire pickup Reid Sinnett, Hurts is no stranger to being pushed dating back to his time in college at Alabama so he knows how to handle uncertainty.
For now, Sirianni confirmed Hurts will continue to take all the first-team reps. A loss to the winless Lions on Sunday, however, could change that dynamic quickly.
"I believe we have everything here we need," Hurts said. "It’s the simple things of putting everything together and going out and doing it. We got another opportunity this week, another opportunity in practice to put that together and go out there and do it.
"You kind of want to go out there, and what you don't want to accept, you change. So we need to change the mentality, all of that, go out there and ball. It’s simple. Our actions. We have to put it together, all three phases."
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.