The Eagles announced via Twitter on Tuesday that they will be holding joint Training Camp practices with both the New England Patriots (July 16-17) and the New York Jets (August 24-25).
While joint practices are nothing new to Eagles fans, new head coach Nick Sirianni’s competitive nature is on full display in the Eagles decision to now test their team against two different teams.
While both teams come from the same division, there likely isn’t a pair of teams with more opposite reputations. Ahead of their joint practices with the Eagles, I have prepared a descriptive list of the five most interesting storylines for these joint practices.
1. Howie Roseman vs Joe Douglas
The Eagles joint practice with the New York Jets will tell the tale of two rosters, one who looks to rise from the ashes of a decade spent buried in their division by the Patriots, and the other only a few years removed from a Super Bowl but in arguably worse shape roster wise.
Jets GM worked under Howie Roseman just a few years ago in Philadelphia, playing a large role in the Eagles 2017 Super Bowl winning season by helping Roseman with scouting and personnel decisions.
The Eagles-Jets practices will put the results of the two roster builders to the tests against each other, with players, fans, and the media ready to react to how each roster fares against the other.
2. Jalen Hurts vs Zach Wilson
If Howie Roseman vs Joe Douglas is the most exciting head-to head matchup of these joint practices, the easiest position to compare the two general manager’s success is at quarterback.
Douglas and the Jets have their shiny new toy in Zach Wilson, who the Eagles’ rumoured interest in before the draft stirred up some Hurts trade discussions among fans. Roseman stayed true to his 2020 second round pick though, giving him an opportunity to win the franchise quarterback role moving forward.
While their performances will be often compared due to their GM’s roster being heavily scrutinized up against each other, they are both feeling two very different types of pressure and will likely respond in very different ways.
While Wilson must prove that he has the talent worthy of the second overall pick in the draft, his leash for the franchise quarterback role is relatively long with no competition in house. On the other hand, Hurts enters a make or break season in which he’s been given an opportunity to win the starting job, but has no outside pressure from fans to perform well as Roseman is armed with a trifecta of possible first round picks to acquire a quarterback next year if need be.
3. Jalen Hurts vs Mac Jones
Luckily Hurts is used to being compared to a quarterback in training camp after last season’s controversial offseason saw him as the backup for Carson Wentz, who’s historically bad season would end in Hurts starting and Wentz being traded to Indianapolis.
However, this is the first professional offseason for Hurts where his performances will be directly compared to two different quarterbacks from separate teams in Zach Wilson and former Alabama teammate Mac Jones, New England’s rookie first round quarterback seemingly destined to inherit Tom Brady’s role if he can live up to it.
Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa’s competition at Alabama was all the rave for years despite Mac Jones backing up both, now with all three former Roll Tide quarterbacks in the NFL get used to more storylines similar to Hurts and Jones training camp competition.
4. Lane Johnson vs Bill Belichick
After the Eagles defeated the Patriots in SuperBowl 52, Lane Johnson went public about multiple issues he had with the Patriots organization, significantly pointing out Bill Belichick’s disrespect towards former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.
Despite Pederson’s exit this offseason, it’s more than reasonable to assume some bad blood still exists between Johnson and some members of the Patriots who’d like to defend their head coach.
Here are some of Johnson’s comments concerning the Patriots in an interview with Steve Austin on May 15.
“Here’s what pissed me off,” Johnson said. “The Patriots, obviously, I respect their coach, I respect Bill, I respect Tom Brady, but just because they won Super Bowls the Patriot Way, is that supposed to be how everybody else is supposed to do the same thing? No, it’s not. And that’s what I got mad at, the arrogance of them. There was obviously some stuff behind closed doors. Their owner talking s*** to our owner. Bill talking s*** to our head coach before the game. I’m not going to say it, but a lot of s*** built up to that and I just got tired of hearing about it, man, to be honest.”
5. Nelson Agholor and Jalen Mills vs current Eagles WR’s and CB’s
Speaking of Super Bowl 52, this past offseason the New England Patriots signed two former Eagles who were crucial to the Patriots’ defeat. “If you can’t beat em, have em join you?”
Both Agholor and Mills had an up-and-down career in Philadelphia en route to helping the Eagles win their first super bowl, with Agholor appearing to be a bust before breaking out in 2017, only to seemingly return to his disappointing self and eventually relocate to Las Vegas playing for the Raiders. Agholor excelled with Derek Carr tho, and earned a new contract in New England that includes 22 million dollars stretched across two seasons.
Mills on the other hand joined the Patriots immediately after his contract ended in Philadelphia, aspiring to lock down one side of the field opposite of Stephon Gilmore, arguably the best cornerback in the league. Mills attempted a move to safety to revive his career with the Eagles, but it wasn’t enough to convince Roseman to dish out the necessary contract.
Now playing for the Patriots, it will be exciting to see if (or how much) they were held back by playing in the Eagles organization versus one that has been a “dynasty” for the past two decades.