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Division Links: Worries and complaints about star players and rosters in NY, Philly & Dallas this week

Let’s see what other NFC East SB Nation blogs are writing about

Bleeding Green Nation

Derrick Gunn says the Eagles are “not very comfortable right now” with Jalen Hurts as their starting quarterback

Philadelphia’s QB has much to prove ... to those both inside and outside the organization.

Until he proves otherwise, the question remains: is Jalen Hurts good enough to be the Eagles’ franchise quarterback? Can he lead them deep in the postseason?

There’s certainly reason to believe the 23-year-old can improve. But it’s also fair to wonder what his ceiling is and if he’s already closer to reaching it than most would like to admit.

Derrick Gunn, who is very plugged in to the team*, had some interesting things to say on this front during a recent appearance on JAKIB Media’s Sports Take alongside Rob Ellis and Barrett Brooks.

GUNN: I know it’s a controlled environment. And, like I tell you guys all the time, I don’t get too hyped about OTAs, minicamp, and even training camp. Because it’s controlled.

But when I asked a few people back in late May about where Jalen Hurts was in his progress, one person said ‘Let me just give you a scenario of what he went through in one day of practice. It’s a 10 play scenario. He had three picks, four incompletions, and three sacks.’ That was his 10 play series, OK.

And I followed up with ‘So what are you thinking?’ And the answer was, the direct answer was: ‘He’s got a ways to go.’ And that’s not very encouraging when you hear all this offseason news [about how] he’s working with this quarterback guru, he’s working on his mechanics, he has a second year in Nick Sirianni’s playbook.

BROOKS: This is OTAs when you heard that?

GUNN: Yes. Yes, this is OTAs.

BROOKS: I hate that you told me that, Gunner, and I don’t want to believe it. And you just said it verbatim so I know you’re not lying to me.

GUNN: Yes. So, you heard the same thing?

BROOKS: Yes, I did.

GUNN: See, OK. So, you know what I’m talking about. And I’ve said this on the record many times: I first and foremost want to see Jalen Hurts succeed because all of the negativism out there surrounding him right now. ‘He sucks.’ You hear more of the ‘he sucks’ than ‘he’s the quarterback, the answer.’ And because of how this young man carries himself, I want to see him succeed because of that.

But I when get this breakdown on him, I’m like, if he’s doing this in a controlled environment, what he’s going to do when he’s got to make decisions in a fraction of a second? Because he’s not going to play much in the preseason. You can forget that.

ELLIS: Not at all. I’m with you. I’ve had this internal struggle because you want this guy to succeed if he’s on your team. He’s that kind of human being, he’s that kind of person. But...

The idea that the Eagles have reservations about Hurts is hardly far-fetched. The likes of Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni have been very complimentary about him publicly. But you know the saying about ‘Watch what we do, not what we say’? The Eagles had real interest in trading for Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson this offseason. (Neither player wanted to come to Philly.) They acquired Gardner Minshew last year. They gave a big UDFA bonus to quarterback Carson Strong, who many thought was a draftable prospect. They made a trade for a 2023 first-round pick and 2024 second-round pick that gives them ammo to potentially pivot at the QB position next offseason. The totality of these actions hardly screams the team is all in on Hurts.

Big Blue View

Saquon Barkley ‘doesn’t know how to play running back,’ says NFC coach

Criticism of Giants’ running back just keeps piling up

Saquon Barkley just keeps taking hits from the national NFL media as the 2022 season approaches.

The latest comes from an NFC coach in an ESPN article [subscriber only] that left Barkley out of a list of the league’s top 10 running backs. Here is what the anonymous coach said:

“I’m down on him — he still doesn’t know how to play running back enough,” a veteran NFL offensive coach said. “He’s a bouncer. He wants every run to be a home run. He’s going to have to learn that 4-yard runs in this league are good, instead of stopping, cutting it back and losing 2. And he gets his ass kicked in protection.”

Just a few days ago, Dan Hanzus of dropped Barkley from the NFL ‘Superstar Club.’ He wrote:

Last year, I wrote that Barkley gave me pause because of his injury history and slow recovery from reconstructive knee surgery. And yet, I granted him another year in The Superstar Club because those dominant stretches in his early years with the Giants still felt recent and attainable. It’s hard to say that after a forgettable 2021 season in which the former No. 2 overall pick averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Yes, Barkley was trapped in a terrible offense run by [checks notes] Joe Judge and Jason Garrett (oof), but he also lacked the explosiveness he showcased before his knee injury. The version of Barkley who came out of Penn State could turn doomed plays into huge gainers. The guy we watched last fall in the Meadowlands rarely got more than what the defense gave him. Still just 25, Barkley gets a fresh start with a great offensive mind in new head coach Brian Daboll. We’re hopeful, but Barkley needs to prove himself again.

Valentine’s View

It is impossible for me to argue against any of this. I stopped calling him ‘superstar running back Saquon Barkley’ a long time ago. I have talked for years now about Barkley not wanting to run with power inside, and about his frustrating tendency to turn what should be short gains into short losses. And, no, Barkley does not pass protect well.

Blogging the Boys

Almost 3 months later Stephen Jones’ words about free agency ring hollow

The Cowboys are still refusing to sign any “name” free agents this offseason.

Since Stephen said this the Dallas Cowboys have signed two veteran free agents and both of those moves became official just this past Friday in kicker Lirim Hajrullahu (who was on the team last year so it wasn’t exactly a totally new thing) and linebacker Christian Sam.

At present time the Cowboys have the third-most salary cap space in the NFL which means they have more than enough room to bring in new players. They have chosen not to pursue any big names this offseason and instead focused on retaining their own by bringing back Michael Gallup, placing the franchise tag on Dalton Schultz, and making sure that they did not lose DeMarcus Lawrence, but most NFL minds agree that the roster today is weaker than it was when the season ended.

Blogging the Boys

Cowboys frugal offseason approach is a better play versus overpaying in free agency

Finding bargain free agents and building through the draft is a recipe for long-term success.

Many media pundits and fans alike seem to look for Jerry Jones and company to go on a free agent shopping spree whenever big-name players become available. However, the organization takes a much different approach where they have long believed in building through the draft and typically paying the big money contracts to players whom were initially drafted by the team. While this may not be the most popular way to conduct business, it has been effective enough to keep Dallas in the conversation as a contender.

With how rookie contracts are structured, primarily for the quarterback position, it is essentially a race to win a Super Bowl before the first contract concludes. Once a team’s starting quarterback is past his rookie deal, the money doled out to that player is much higher which means less money can be spread out to the other members of the franchise. Big splash signings look good on paper when the deal is finalized, however, building through the draft and retaining players for a second contract is a very successful formula. And a formula that will sooner rather than later payoff in a huge way when the Cowboys end the drought and bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Dallas.