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Jumbo Package: Jalen Hurts on the move?

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Could Jalen Hurts be on the move, as Deshaun Watson trade rumors heat up?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Last night via CBS Sports, this little tidbit blew up, re: Deshaun Watson trade rumors.

It’s no secret that Watson is unhappy in Houston.

After enduring more sacks than any NFL quarterback the last five years, why wouldn’t he be? The Texans and their genius coaching and managerial staff (Oh, wait. Sorry. That was the same guy last season) did not prioritize offensive line personnel or efficient playcalling (and thus his health) for the first five years of his career. But, after there was a change in coaches last season, and Watson was freed from Houston’s overreliance on slow-developing play-action plays, for the first time in his career Watson left games with as clean a jersey as he was apt to get — overall Watson took 12 sacks in 11 games down the stretch, and had a 7.6% sack rate for the season (which was still far above league average).

That change in offensive strategy still might not be enough though. According to multiple reports over the last eight months, he wants out “no matter what”.

Does that include pushing out Jalen Hurts, the second-year Alabama legend? (No, Lincoln Riley, you don’t get credit for running his legs off and actually making his development take a step back with those cheesy two-man routes against taffy Big 12 defenses. God, I can’t believe we’re letting this garbage in the SEC. I hate literally everything about this.).

That is the $156-million question ($110-million guaranteed; Watson’s renewal signed just prior to 2020).

It’s not a secret that Hurts had an uneven rookie season, completing just 52% of his passes (though 17 were intentional throwaways). But Hurts was on a short leash all last season, and he has entered Camp with no promises given that he will even be a presumptive starter. He’ll be competing from scratch for that gig.

Sad to say, by all accounts, there has been little development from Year One to Year Two, if Jalen’s first week of fall training is any indication. You know the criticisms as well as we do by now: inconsistency, failure to see the field, hesitancy with the ball, locking on to receivers, misfiring on open receivers, etc.

I say this without animus towards one of the most decorated players in Alabama history, and a kid I genuinely like and respect. But, barring a miraculous flip of the switch, he’s not a starting NFL quarterback. He was not an elite-level college quarterback for that matter, gaudy statistics aside. Some things you just can’t coach at the position, and those are unfortunately the skills that make one best equipped to be an NFL starter. He is an elite athlete, and I think there are plenty of packages for him and ways he can contribute, just not that one.

The Eagles may have come to this conclusion as well, as week-long chatter has veered from Watson speculation into four-alarm TRADE RUMOR territory after a week of practice.

You know who I blame most for this too? Averion Hurts. A coach is tasked with telling players tough truths about their limitations, a parent even moreso. And in this case, there was a two-fold failure. Encourage your children to follow their dreams, for sure. But there also has to be a brake on unrealistic exuberance, even if it’s painful; and particularly when five years of performances have indicated that it’s time, well past time, to have that talk.

Should the Eagles give up on Jalen? Of course not. Is it time to think about transitioning him to a Slash player? That should have been the draft strategy all along.

You’ll always have this, Jalen. And we’ll always love you for it.

Wanna’ be a ‘Rona Truther and not get vaccinated? Be prepared to take PCR tests three times a week this fall, according to guidance issued by the NCAA yesterday. Conferences have also largely tried to quash this as well, with several conferences now requiring forfeiture of games for outbreaks — including the SEC, where half of its teams were over the 80% threshold three weeks ago, and that number is climbing as fall camps prepare to open.

That is the stick, but where is the carrot? The carrot comes in the form of not having to have PCR tests or quarantine protocols if players have been vaccinated.

You knew this wasn’t going to end quietly.

The lawmakers are involved now. In addition to the hilarious hearings occurring in the Texas state legislature, lawmakers have begun to ask the US Department of Justice to look into anti-trust violations by ESPN and the SEC.

The SEC certainly has done itself no favors either; they may have poached two teams from the windblown husk of Meth Country, but it has now forfeited any sort of leadership role that Greg Sankey has worked years to cultivate. In fact, every other conference in the nation is now aligned against it. Good job, Greg! When teams have difficulties scheduling home and aways, or find yourself outvoted 4-1 in the NCAA, or have poison pills crammed down your throat by five dozen other member institutions, you have only yourself — and this pennwise, pound-foolishness — to blame.

Expect revanchism, people. It will come. And, yes, Sen. Marshall (R-Kansas), the NCAA and SEC has done itself zero favors on the anti-trust front as well.

However, one group that has entered radio silence is who you’d least expect — the Big 12. The AAC is denying collusion to the moon, the Big 12 is saying they have a gentleman’s agreement not to litigate this in the public airwaves, and ESPN is issuing sheepish legalese about possible pre-emptory “consultation with broadcasting partners.”

My takeaway? They totally did it, but the entire sport has too much dirty laundry to air publicly and everyone, even aggrieved conference commissioners, realizes that.

After much criticism last week of Quinn Ewers’ decision to completely skip a year of high school football to go ahead and reap those NIL dollars, he his attorney put out a statement yesterday ensuring us that it was totally not about the money in such parsed, mutilated phraseaology that you realize the lady doth protest too much.

There are many old saws that apply here, and you can take your pick of them:
Cui bono?
Money talks, bullshit walks.
And, the most iconic of all,

You still arrive at the same place: this was about the money. And while Ewers was the first, he won’t be the last.

Unfortunately, Alabama did lose one of its stud ATH prospects yesterday, a guy just signed in the 2021 class too. Four-star Kadarius Calloway is heading to Last Chance U, apparently after becoming an academic casualty.

The half-full glass I suppose is that it frees up a scholarship spot on the 85/25?

GET THEE TO A TELEVISION SET TONIGHT!

NFL Preseason slapfights begin this evening, but fortunately the first team up on the television slate will feature the best Alabama running back to ever put on a crimson jersey (fight me): Najee F’n Harris. Put some respek on that name, son.

.“Man, he needs the process of game preparation and then ultimately play. We got four opportunities for him to do that. We’re going to make sure that he participates in all four of those processes.

“We’ll determine how much he plays, but the preparation process, the process of readying yourself to play, is something that I believe all those young guys need regardless of their potential roles for us once the regular season starts. I just want to get them to as many stadiums and watch them prepare and watch them establish routines that make them comfortable, that maximize their ability in a game-like setting, so I’m excited about watching him do that for the first time. I think he’s going to learn and grow from it aside from the actual play in the game, just the process leading up to play.”

There’s not much out there right now, folks. We’re gearing up with our unit previews and the like, and we hope to have the first of those for you over the next day or so. Likewise, Fall Camp starts next week. So, just bear with us. We’re almost through the miserable offseason.

I’m peacing out for the weekend (my birthday is on Saturday, and I just need to get away for a few days), but I’ll see you next week. Roll Tide.

Poll

Is Najee Harris the best Alabama running back in history?

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