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Dissecting The Eagles Backup Quarterback Situation After The First Preseason Game

The Philadelphia Eagles narrowly lost their first preseason game to the Baltimore Ravens 20-19. While the final score does not matter, what the players did in the game makes a difference going forward. There were plenty of ups and downs in the game, especially at the quarterback position.

Starting quarterback Jalen Hurts as well as Philly’s other starters sat out, so they could be ready for the team’s joint practices with the Cleveland Browns this week. This created an opportunity for the Eagles to gauge who else they have on the depth chart behind Hurts. Let’s take a look at how the backup QBs did.

Marcus Mariota

Philadelphia’s free agent pickup played well in his Eagles preseason debut. He showed his mobility multiple times and was accurate enough as a passer. Mariota completed seven of his 11 pass attempts for 58 yards and rushed for 29 yards on four carries.

His athleticism showed on several occasions. On the opening drive as the Eagles faced a third and 13, Mariota scrambled to his left for 14 yards to convert the first down. A few plays later, he found Tyrie Cleveland for a nine-yard gain on a third and ten to set up a manageable fourth and one. Mariota was only in the game for two drives but put the Eagles in position to score on both of them. Kicker Jake Elliott made one of two field goal attempts.

The former Oregon Duck and eight-year NFL veteran gives the Eagles someone with a very similar skill-set as Jalen Hurts.

Tanner McKee

The Eagles sixth round draft pick out of Stanford also played well. He showed off his downfield passing ability by throwing for a game high 148 yards (10/20 on pass attempts). McKee went right to work on his first attempt, which came at the beginning of the second quarter. He threw a ball 27 yards deep to Tyrie Cleveland to put Philadelphia in Ravens territory. The Eagles finished the drive with a field goal.

On the next drive, McKee led Philly down the field for the team’s first touchdown of the game. He made quality throws to extend drives when the Eagles faced a third and four and a third and 11. McKee stayed in the game for three more drives, but two ended in punts with the other drive ending on a failed fourth down attempt. He was not nearly as accurate as when he first came into the game.

Ian Book

As Mariota and McKee showed plenty of promise, Ian Book’s performance was disappointing. He finished the game with just one completion on four pass attempts for 11 yards. He took two sacks including one that resulted in a 21-yard loss. Book came in towards the end of the third quarter with the game close. He had opportunities to bring the Eagles down the field for game tying or go-ahead scores but could not get anything going.

This is Book’s second season in Philadelphia. The former Notre Dame star made one start for the New Orleans Saints in 2021 before being waived by them last August. He spent last year on the bench behind Hurts and backup Gardner Minshew.

Which Quarterbacks Should The Eagles Keep?

In 2023, NFL teams can finally dress three quarterbacks for a game. After the first preseason game, it was clear that Marcus Mariota and Tanner McKee can move the ball effectively as quarterbacks. They should take the second and third string quarterback spots.

Ian Book would have to show significant improvement, or he is at risk for losing an opportunity in the NFL. Maybe he could find a spot on the practice squad, but he would be the Eagles fourth best quarterback now.


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