Jalen Hurts Assumes Backup QB Role

John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles often pay lip service to Nate Sudfeld as the backup quarterback but their actions speak far louder than their words whether it's talking Josh McCown out of retirement last season or drafting Jalen Hurts in the second round back in the spring.

In a big spot, Philadelphia might even turn back to McCown if it had to after agreeing to make the 41-year-old the first socially-distant emergency QB and oldest practice squad player in NFL history.

Sudfeld had nothing to do with the Eagles' unsightly collapse against the Washington Football Team back in Week 1 but he was the one demoted falling from one-snap away to inactive as Philadelphia fell to 0-2 Sunday after getting blitzed by the Los Angeles Rams.

Hurts, the Heisman Trophy runner-up at Oklahoma last season, was active as Carson Wentz's backup, an understandable development if there was some sleight of hand afoot to counter with the bells and whistles of Sean McVay.

The fast-track was limited to decoy on three plays, first as a RB in a split backfield before lining up wide left and then finally in the slot on the right side.

In theory, it was somewhat effective as the Eagles garnered two first downs on the plays but it didn't seem like the Rams defense was in fire-drill mode trying to find Hurts in a game of Where's Waldo.

Maybe that changes when the ball gets to Hurts and if he does something dynamic. But the long game is just that and until Hurts flashes something he'll generate yawns as a less-effective back or receiver.

The trio of plays generated gains of 11, six, and two yards with two clear fakes in Hurts’ direction.

The trade-off was a crossing of the fingers that Wentz wasn't hurt because most assumed if the Eagles did dress the rookie for such a package they would carry three QBs on game day in case Sudfield was needed for extensive snaps.

While the struggles of other rookies have nothing to do with Hurts, it stands to reason that playing the most difficult and complicated position in the sport would need a more extensive ramp-up period after a virtual offseason and a limited training camp, something Doug Pederson lamented on Monday.

The coach wouldn't go so far as to officially install Hurts as the backup, claiming it was a weekly decision.

“We always do what we feel sometimes is best for the football team each and every week,” the coach said after the game. “We felt this week with him up, they could give us an opportunity to possibly use him in those situations that we did, and obviously he went in, executed them well, and it’s a starting point as something we’ll evaluate each week.”

The die is cast for Sudfeld, though, because the actions always trump the words.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM and every Monday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SportsMap Radio. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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