A few months ago, Ian Book was a New Orleans Saint. He had been the Saints’ fourth-round pick in 2021, only the fourth QB they drafted in the first four rounds since Archie Manning in 1971.
Book finished the preseason by going 11-for-15 for 81 yards and a touchdown to Kirk Merritt along with a 50-yard run in a game against the Chargers, and he had no reason to think his roster spot was in jeopardy.
And then on Aug. 30 he was released and claimed by the Eagles.
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“Got called on a Thursday at 11 a.m. that I got claimed by the Eagles,” he recalled. “I was here by 7:30 p.m., but I didn’t have any of my stuff. Got here, passed my physical, practiced the next day, they flew me back home on Saturday, they gave me two days to pack up all my stuff and fly back Sunday night for practice No. 1 for the Lions Week 1.
“Then you’ve got to get a moving company. When you get claimed they pay for it, which is amazing, but you have to pack everything and tell them when they can come and then they want to know what house they should take it to, but you don’t have a house because you just got here and you’re living in a hotel, and the Eagles pay for your hotel for 19 days, so you have 19 days to find a house, while you’re learning an offense for Week 1.”
That’s the way things go for No. 3 quarterbacks.
But Book this week is a No. 2 quarterback. With Jalen Hurts out for the Eagles-Cowboys game Saturday, Book will be active for the first time since he joined the Eagles.
If all goes well, Gardner Minshew will play the entire game. But for the first time, Book will be on the sidelines in an Eagles uniform, ready if he the Eagles need him.
“Definitely know all the plays mentally now,” he said. “I feel like we’ve got a good plan this week, and I know if I go in there they’ll call a good plan for me. I feel good about where I am. Obviously, the only thing people worry about is chemistry because I haven’t thrown to those (starting receivers), but we’ve got some good receivers. If that happens, we’ll be OK.”
The 24-year-old Book, the winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history, finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2020 – he got five first-place votes and DeVonta Smith got 447.
He said it took a while to really get comfortable here, and that’s understandable. He spent all of training camp with the Saints and didn’t join the Eagles until they gave up on Carson Strong.
“It’s different changing teams (that late),” he said. “I felt like I finally knew the ins and outs of our offense in New Orleans and felt really good, but that’s just how it goes. You’ve got to forget everything you know. You can’t compare anything to the other offense, that’s what I’ve learned. You can’t say in your head, ‘OK, this play is like that play we ran.’ You’ve just got to forget it, and I feel like I have. Forgetting an offense is harder than learning one.
“But you have to erase it and I feel good, a lot better than I did. Especially in the last few weeks, it’s really starting to click.
“There was a time a couple weeks ago we were talking about a bite route, which we don’t have in this offense but we have in New Orleans and I was so convinced we had it. I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s a bite route,’ and they were all looking at me like I’m crazy.”
It’s not often that the Eagles have used three quarterbacks in meaningful situations in a season. Last time it happened was 2013, with Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley. Before that, 2011, with Vick, Vince Young and Mike Kafka. And 2009, with Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Vick.
If it happens this year, Book feels ready.
“I just feel like lately, really feeling good, understanding plays,” he said. “At first you try to memorize things but now I know conceptually why we’re running stuff, so that’s big. If my number is called I’ll be ready.”
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