By Peter Gleason
Here’s what Eagles coach Doug Pederson says about why he decided to go with rookie Jalen Hurts at quarterback the rest of the season and bench $100 million underperformer Carson Wentz:
“I have come to a decision and I am going to go with Jalen Hurts this week against New Orleans,” Pederson said today on the Eagles Insider Podcast.
“We’re not where we want to be as an offense. I looked at the whole thing and decided that for this week to look for that spark again to try to get the team over the hump, to try to get everybody playing better.”
The decision was his and his alone, Pederson said.
“Carson is like all of us right now, he’s disappointed. He’s frustrated,” Pederson said.
“He’s been a professional through it all. He supports his teammates and that’s what you want to see from him, the leader of the team. I know sometimes the quarterback gets a lot of the blame like the head coach does. It’s the good with the bad. It’s not about Carson Wentz. It’s not about one person. We know we have issues on offense and it has been a struggle for us all season. That’s where the frustration lies a little bit, but he’s been a pro and would expect nothing less.”
Wentz started the first 12 games of this regular season, throwing 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He completed 57.4 percent of his passes and compiled a passer rating of 72.8 while throwing for 2,620 yards as the Eagles went 3-8-1 in those games. At Green Bay on Sunday, Wentz completed 6 of 15 passes for 79 yards and was sacked four times before Hurts entered the game for the final offensive drive of the third quarter. He stayed in through the conclusion of the game and completed 5 of 12 passes for 109 yards, with one touchdown and an interception as the Eagles rallied from a 20-3 deficit to come within 23-16 before ultimately losing 30-16 for their fourth consecutive defeat.
As much as the Eagles want to see Hurts on Sunday against the Saints, the NFL’s top-ranked defense, they also understand how important it is to get Wentz back on track. In his fifth season, Wentz is signed through the 2024 campaign.
“Carson’s been a big part of the success that we’ve had. He was on that championship team that got us to that level. Even in ’18 and ’19 he led the team and got us into the postseason and I know we can get back to that level. That’s why I have so much confidence in him,” Pederson said.
All of that is important and in the big picture, the Eagles and Wentz have work to do. For Sunday, it’s a chance for Hurts, the team’s second-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, to step up and see how he fares in his first NFL start after a storied collegiate career at Alabama and Oklahoma.
“I just want to see development. I think it’s a great opportunity for him, a great opportunity for the team,” Pederson said.
Pederson reflected on his own experience from the 1999 season when he was the starting quarterback for the Eagles and Head Coach Andy Reid made the call to go with Donovan McNabb.
“It made me, personally, a better teammate. It allowed me to see the game through a different lens from watching Donovan and Koy (Detmer) even having to start a game at the end of that season,” Pederson said. “Overall, I just became a better player. It was a great learning experience that I was able to take to Cleveland the next year and be a starter for a couple of games and really learn how to lead and be a leader. That’s what it taught me. I think we learn our greatest lessons through adversity and it taught me a valuable lesson at that time that holds true today.”
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