Philadelphia Eagles upgrade at third-string QB by signing Nick Mullens

Nick Mullens #4, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Nick Mullens #4, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Nick Mullens ensures depth at the quarterback position for Philadelphia Eagles.

After a few years of Nate Sudfeld taking on the role of ‘QB3’, the Philadelphia Eagles have upgraded. 26-year-old Nick Mullens is an Eagle once again like he was during his days at Southern Miss. This time he’ll don the midnight green instead of the black and gold. Sudfeld and Mullens will trade places this upcoming season.

Sudfeld struggled in limited action, to say the least. There were flashes of potential during his preseason outings against lower-level talent but it’s safe to say the Eagles would have been in trouble if he had been asked to play significant snaps. He capped off his Eagles career with a poor fourth-quarter performance against the Washington Football Team in Week 17.

Philly tried to fill his void with 23-year-old undrafted free agent Jamie Newman. Fans didn’t even get to see the rookie in action before the team waived him. It was a smart signing following the draft.

He has the size for the position, and he has a strong arm. Both of those qualities make for a good starting point for a developmental quarterback. The problem is that Newman needs to take big strides in terms of ball placement and reading the field. After the Clayton Thorson experiment a few years ago in Round 5, it was smart of the Birds not to use a draft pick on Newman and feel things out first.

Philadelphia went from having one of the more uncertain QB3 situations to having one of the most secure with the addition of Mullens. While it was evident over the past few seasons that he wasn’t QB1 material, he proved that he can play up to the caliber of a backup quarterback.

Philly already has their backup in Joe Flacco which makes Mullens an above-average third option. A lot of teams in the league don’t even have a QB2 with as much experience as Mullens.

Mullens is the right fit for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Over the past three seasons, Mullens has started 16 games with a 64.5 percent completion rate, 4,714 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions. In those 16 starts, he went 5-11 and five of those losses were within one possession.

He scored in garbage time versus the Dallas Cowboys last year to make it a one-possession game so in all fairness, there were four close losses. For the Eagles, that is all you can ask for out of your third-string quarterback: someone who will give you a chance to win if called upon.

Coming from a west coast system in San Francisco, Mullens should transition well into Nick Sirianni‘s offense. While Kyle Shanahan’s offense has been much more run-heavy, Sirianni will still use the run to set up the pass and get his quarterbacks comfortable. For Mullens, it is ideal to have a head coach Sirianni calling the plays for him if called upon. During his time in Indianapolis with Frank Reich, Sirianni had to help prepare offenses for three different starting quarterbacks in three years.

Fans saw the 49ers adjust with Mullens in the lineup and Sirianni’s shouldn’t be any different if Mullens has to play. That’ll be important due to the fact that Mullens struggles immensely when facing pressure. Opponents knew that and as a result, he was pressure the most of any quarterback who started eight or more games facing pressure 31.1 percent of the time.

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Mullens had the seventh-worst completion percentage above expectation at -3.1. However, Mullens also had the 15th-most yards off of play action with 863. All 14 quarterbacks ahead of him started at least 15 games whereas Mullens started just eight. Sirianni can make Mullens comfortable with a heavy dose of the run and seven and eight-man protections off of play-action frequently.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ signing Mullens also benefits the running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends who are trying to earn a roster spot this preseason. We saw limited reps from them last year due to the lack of a preseason. In 2019, Thorson missed wide-open passes a few years ago which took away opportunities for weapons to show their ability with the ball in their hands.

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Mullens is a quarterback who can manage a game and make the throws that he needs to make. We still have to learn more about what types of players some of these young weapons are. Mullens can help by staying on time, going through his progression, and making the easy throws this preseason.

While Flacco will mentor Hurts as the backup, Mullens can also help in that regard. He was a rookie not too long ago and can relay some advice to Hurts from when he was learning the ropes under Shanahan. Not to mention, Flacco won’t be here forever and Mullens makes sense as a long-term backup. This move makes sense from every angle.