With training camp in the books, and the regular season almost here, it is time to take a deep dive into how each unit looked during the two-week session open to the media.
Today, the quarterbacks:
Stats: 134/205, 28 TD, 5 INT
Analysis: There was definitely plenty to like from the team’s starting quarterback during training camp.
Wentz did a nice job taking care of the ball, throwing just five interceptions, with two of those coming off of passes that bounced off the receiver’s hands. He had a few nice deep completions, and for the most part, moved the offense when he was under the center. There was not much to be concerned about with Wentz.
Overall, he was fine.
The question is whether “fine” is going to be good enough.
What did stand out about Wentz’s camp was the lack of “wow” plays, or special moments you would like to see from a franchise quarterback. Part of the reason could very well have been the play of the offensive line in front of him, as Wentz has never lined up behind an offensive line with as many issues as this one has during his time in an Eagles uniform. There is no question Wentz constantly being “sacked” played a role in the lack of big plays, and you could see the frustration on the quarterback’s face throughout camp at how much pressure he was under.
Still, despite the offensive line issues, there is an argument to be made that this was the second-best training camp performance Wentz has had during his time with the Eagles:
2017: 227/330 (68%), 31 TD, 5 INT
2020: 134/205 (65%), 28 TD, 5 INT
2016: 125/187 (67%), 13 TD, 1 INT
2019: 210/330 (63%), 23 TD, 9 INT
2018: 64/100 (64%), 9 TD, 5 INTs
Overall: 760/1152 (66%), 104 TDs, 25 INTs
In fact, Wentz turned in the best training-camp passer rating of his career (explained here)
Training Camp Passer Rating:
What has always been a constant in Wentz’s career is that the player he is in training camp is the player the team is going to get in the regular season. Going off the numbers, it seems like the Eagles are primed for an excellent year from Wentz.
Going off the eye test, however, Wentz was simply not as good in 2020 training camp as he was in 2017. In 2017 he was special. Everyone could feel a huge year was coming. That just wasn’t the case this time around.
Wentz wasn’t a problem, but the feeling coming out of camp this year is that Wentz is going to have to be better than just “fine” if the Eagles are going to compete for a playoff spot. That might be tough with the play of the offensive line, but the Eagles are paying Wentz franchise money to make the offense special even if the pieces around him are not.
Stats: 93/127, 19 TD, 3 INT
Analysis: Sudfeld had a rollercoaster of a training camp.
At the start, it seemed pretty obvious right off the bat that he was going to eventually lose his backup job to Jalen Hurts. Hurts looked special. Sudfeld did not. That was the case for a good portion of the first week of camp, and slowly, the reps between the two started to become 50/50 with the second-team offense.
Over the last week, however, Sudfeld showed why the team — for better or worse — is comfortable with him as the backup right now.
Sudfeld was able to separate himself from Hurts during the live, 11-on-11 drills. Sudfeld might not be a big-play maker, and is overall fairly conservative with the ball, but it is clear at this point he is more comfortable dropping back and running the offense than Hurts is. Sudfeld displayed some pretty solid accuracy, and when he did go deep, a nice deep ball. He is also pretty quick when he gets out in the open field.
Sudfeld behind center will allow the Eagles to run a watered-down version of the offense they will run with Wentz. Sudfeld is almost like a Nick Foles clone in the way he can just run Doug Pederson’s offense, with the main difference between the two being Sudfeld is slightly more athletic, but Foles seems to make quicker decisions.
If the Eagles had to go to Sudfeld, there is a good chance he would come in and not completely throw the game away. Sudfeld looks like a backup that would come in, take care of the ball, and lead the offense to 21 points. The question is whether he can come in and throw the team to a win.
Sudfeld did enough to hold onto the backup quarterback job for now, but despite a strong ending to camp, it still seems like only a matter of time until Hurts takes over.
Stats: 78/109, 13 TD, 4 INT, 5 Rushing TD
Analysis: Jalen Hurts is a playmaker.
That is the biggest takeaway from getting a chance to watch the Eagles’ second-round pick over the last two weeks. Hurts is not afraid to throw the ball deep, and when he doesn’t seem a play to be made through the air, he is quick to take off with the ball. It is easy to see why Hurts was so dangerous in college. With Hurts on the field the Eagles’ defense was constantly under pressure, whether it was being tested deep or having to chase him around outside the pocket.
Hurts was especially effective in the red zone, and if Wentz wasn’t arguably the best red zone quarterback in the league, it would be easy to see the team putting Hurts under center this season inside the 20. Hurts isn’t Lamar Jackson-quick (no quarterback is), but he is deceivingly quick for a quarterback that still has a very solid build. Part of the reason Hurts was able to do so much damage on the ground was he is very decisive on when he wants to run. Once he takes off he is gone, and in the red zone, that lead to plenty of touchdowns.
Hurts also showed plenty of potential as a passer. The best chance we got to see what Hurts can do from the pocket came on the final day of camp, when he attempted 38 passes. Hurts displays nice touch on balls over the middle, and definitely has a strong enough arm to squeeze passes into tight windows. His deep ball is especially impressive, as he had some of the best deep passes of any quarterback throughout camp.
The one issue Hurts did display with so many reps was not looking completely comfortable in the pocket. That will come with time, but for now, you can see the rookie is still struggling to just drop back and run the offense. That was the main difference between Hurts and Sudfeld — Sudfeld has three years of running the offense, Hurts has about three weeks.
But while Sudfeld is the safe option, Hurts looks far more ready to come into a game and carry the Eagles to a win. Hurts is special. That will show up on game days if (or more likely when) he gets in. While Sudfeld might throw two touchdowns and lead the Eagles to 21 points, Hurts is more likely to throw for two touchdowns, run for two touchdowns, turn the ball over twice and lead the Eagles to 28 points.
It will be a bit more of a rollercoaster with Hurts in the game, but if I am an opposing defensive coordinator, there is zero doubt in my mind I would rather face Sudfeld than Hurts.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org!