After a messy end to the 2020 season, the Philadelphia Eagles had to rebuild. This involved moving on from Carson Wentz and naturally nudging second-round pick Jalen Hurts up the pecking order. Of course, there was now a hole at QB2 and it was one that many deemed important.
The opening days of free agency passed and as names like Jacoby Brissett and Tyrod Taylor were poached from the market, the Eagles stood still, prompting some mild concern from fans. Was there a method to the madness? We got our answer not long later when the team announced that they had signed Joe Flacco to a one-year deal worth $3.5M.
The immediate reaction was split. Some were delighted that the Delaware legend would be returning to the area he grew up and gained so many fans throughout his collegiate years, while others were concerned that his history of mentoring younger quarterbacks wasn’t exactly glistening.
He was notably disgruntled when the team drafted Lamar Jackson, expecting him to helped the rookie along.
Flacco then went to Denver as a starter, but the team drafted Drew Lock shortly after. Again, this left a bitter taste in Flacco’s mouth and mentoring Drew Lock didn’t seem like something he was interested in.
I’m trying to go out there and play the best football of my life, so as far as the time constraint, I’m not worried about developing guys or any of that. That is what it is. Like I said, I hope he does develop. But I don’t look at that as my job. My job is to go win football games for this team.
It should come as no surprise then that in his first presser as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, he preached that same sentiment.
After speaking with Joe yesterday, it became clear that he wasn’t signed to help mentor Jalen Hurts, which may seem confusing at first. He was signed because he was everything the Eagles were looking for.
What the Eagles need
If this offseason has a theme, it’s “competition”. Nick Sirianni wants every spot on the roster to be earned with nothing handed out on a silver platter. Jalen Hurts is not exempt from that conversation and he shouldn’t be.
Joe Flacco has not only started games with each of the three teams he’s been with, but he comes into Philadelphia with a winning mentality. There’s a clear chip on his shoulder coming into Training Camp. Flacco doesn’t want to be second-best. He wants to start and be in a position to lead the team.
I’m a new guy on the team and the most important thing is showing people i can play this game. I’m not just some guy because a team needed someone. My first thing is wanting to prove my worth.
Regardless of how the Training Camp battle shakes out, Jalen Hurts is going to endure an extremely intense, yet healthy competition. He may not have had that from someone like Tyrod Taylor, whose starting experience over the past two years hasn’t been as frequent. Somebody like Jacoby Brissett may have tilted the scales a little too far the other way. Flacco is fighting to keep his status as a starting quarterback while Hurts is scrapping to cement his, creating the perfect storm where iron will sharpen iron.
Ready for the pressure
Philadelphia fans are loud and proud. If they’re not happy about something, you’ll hear it. If they’re jubilated, you’ll feel it. Joe Flacco is no stranger to this and laughed gently when discussing the opportunity to play in front of such a passionate crowd…and one he knows all too well.
I don’t know if you ever get used to it but you have to be able to deal with it. Whether you believe they’re right or wrong, they’re what makes the game what it is. We go out and play and try to play the best we can, but if they didn’t fuel all of their emotions towards their televisions, we wouldn’t be here. That passion comes out in different ways and you have to accept that.
Setting the right example
What really surprised me more than anything else when speaking to Flacco was the care he had for the Pennsylvania area. It’s understandable. He was raised just a stones throw away from the Eagles’ stadium, ripped up the FCS for the Delaware Blue Hens, won a Super Bowl in Baltimore, and of course most recently signed with the New York Jets. Now, Flacco is back home.
We all know that the Eagles place a heavy emphasis on charity and strengthening their community. From the incredible work of the Autism foundation, to Chris Long’s selfless decision to give up his salary and give to to charity, there has been a real drive in recent years to give back to the communities that give so much to the Eagles. When asked about whether the work off the field perhaps contributed to his decision to join the team, Flacco’s answer said it all:
The biggest thing you gain when you see that is that when they go and acquire talent, they’re looking for good players but understand the character of the guy that they’re drafting. It’s a testament to the Eagles as to how good of a job they do because its about those guys being willing and embracing the community.
Flacco fits in perfectly. Within months of signing with the team, He teamed up with construction technology company Nexii to open the first ever green building plant in Pennsylvania, generating upwards of 200 jobs in the Hazelton area. The plant will produce a sustainable concrete alternative in buildings that produce less than 50% of the climate pollutions of regular sites.
He may not have been the most appealing quarterback available when the free agency market opened, nor was he the cheapest. However, Joe Flacco embodies everything that Nick Sirianni wants this Eagles team to look like, and that’s all you could ask from a veteran in what will be a room full of young and unproven players and coaches.
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