• Don't settle for “fine” at QB: Neither the Chiefs nor the Eagles were content with their above-average starting signal-callers before drafting Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts, respectively.
• Construct your defense to defend the pass: The run game matters, but a team's first orders of business in 2023 and beyond should be focused on passing the ball efficiently on offense and stopping the pass on defense.
Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins
1. The Chiefs had an above-average quarterback in Alex Smith and still traded up from Pick No. 27 to Pick No. 10 for Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft
Alex Smith’s 76.2 passing grade in 2016 ranked 12th among qualifying quarterbacks, his 7.0 yards per attempt placed 15th and his 76.5% adjusted completion percentage came in at fifth. An elite head coach in Andy Reid and tight end in Travis Kelce certainly helped, but a rookie Tyreek Hill led all wide receivers with 593 receiving yards on 61 receptions.
It would have been completely understandable, or at least unsurprising, if Kansas City ran it back with Smith again. Many clubs would have. The Chiefs weren’t complacent, though, and now they’ve hosted five straight AFC championship games.
The Philadelphia Eagles found themselves in a similar situation following the 2019 season, and with an arguably far more challenging sunk-cost dilemma. The Eagles had a perfectly fine quarterback in Carson Wentz. The revisionist history of his 2019 season has gone too far now that Jalen Hurts has emerged as a top-end quarterback and because of Wentz’s performance since. In 2019, one year after signing a top-of-market extension, Wentz earned a 75.4 passing grade that ranked 15th and accounted for 32 big-time throws, which ranked third. He also recorded 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Yet, the Eagles drafted Hurts anyway.
The pick was widely panned, and many questioned whether the team would create an unnecessary poor dynamic in the locker room. Quarterbacks battle every year of college in camp no matter how good they are the year prior, and no one knows this better than Hurts following his transfer from Alabama to Oklahoma. This time around, Hurts emerged as the leader, and the Eagles are back in the Super Bowl five years after raising the Lombardi Trophy in February 2018.
At the most important position in all of sports, fine is not fine. And it certainly doesn’t get you to Super Bowl Sunday.