Why Flacco lands on list of most important Eagles in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Over the next three weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 20 most important Eagles for the 2021 season.
Up first at No. 20: Joe Flacco
While Nick Sirianni has tried his hardest to not just come out and hand Jalen Hurts the starting quarterback job, we all understand the situation. Hurts is the starter, Flacco is the backup and now Nick Mullens is the third-stringer.
But the backup quarterback is an important position with any team and especially for a team with such a young and inexperienced quarterback.
The Eagles signed Flacco to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Now, some folks think the Eagles overpaid for Flacco, especially after he played last year on a much cheaper contract with the Jets. While Flacco didn’t play particularly well last season, he did prove that he was past the neck injury that seemed to threaten his career. So he got paid more.
And this isn’t about whether or not the Eagles should have signed Flacco. It’s about him being an important part of this team. The thing to remember about Flacco is that he has the potential to be an important influence with this team even if he doesn’t step onto the field.
People will always point back to his previous history of saying it wasn’t his job to mentor a young quarterback and they’ll also point at his introductory press conference when he said he was here to compete. I get that he’s never talked at length about helping young players. But the Eagles still clearly expect him to help Hurts this season. Maybe that doesn’t take the form of a fatherly figure but even if Flacco challenges Hurts in the meeting room or leads by example, that can be valuable.
Earlier this offseason, we had former NFL quarterback and former Flacco teammate Matt Schaub on the Eagle Eye podcast and he thinks Flacco is “going to be a great presence” for Hurts this season.
“I think Joe can be a great influence on Jalen’s development,” Schaub said. “And it’s nice when you’re a young quarterback, when you have a veteran presence that’s been there, done that, walked that line and has seen it all and been through it all. That can only benefit Jalen and his development and everyone on the football team.”
Now that we’ve established that Flacco has a role even if he’s not playing, we ought to recognize the very real possibility that he will get on the field in 2021, especially in a 17-game season.
The league went to a 16-game season in 1978 and since then, the Eagles’ quarterback has started all 16 games just 14 times. That means that most years, the backup is needed to play. And this season, the Eagles play 13 straight weeks before their bye, so that’s a lot of wear and tear on a quarterback, especially one who is expected to run as much as Hurts.
If Flacco gets in there, it’s hard to know what to expect from him. He started four games last year for the Jets and had an 0-4 record but did throw 6 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. His last win came as a member of the Broncos the year before. Flacco was once a good starting quarterback and won 12 games twice in his career. At 36, he’s not that guy anymore, but the Eagles just have to hope he’s good enough to get them through a few games if they need it.
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