Eagles’ Doug Pederson Appears to Blame Jason Kelce, Defends Jalen Hurts

Carson Wentz

Getty Carson Wentz has benefited greatly from having All-Pro Jason Kelce as his center for so long.

Eagles quarterbacks have fumbled the ball a whopping 12 times this season. Carson Wentz has been responsible for nine fumbles (four lost) and Jalen Hurts has coughed it up three times (none lost) over the course of nine games. It’s an alarming trend but the blame shouldn’t go on the guys under center.

Those botched exchanges have been the direct result of bad snaps. According to Doug Pederson, All-Pro center Jason Kelce has been the culprit on a good chunk of those fumbles. Kelce looked off against the Giants on all three miscommunications — two from Wentz, one from Hurts — and the head coach has already talked to him about fixing it. Hurts was on the field for three offensive snaps on Sunday, rushing twice for minus-two yards and fumbling once.

Pederson challenged a reporter who asked specifically about Hurts’ alleged miscues: “Were they his fumbles or were they low snaps? Are they him dropping the ball or is it the center quarterback exchange? You say he fumbles the ball. I want to know specifically from your perspective what it is.”

The former backup quarterback turned head coach put the onus more on Kelce than Hurts. Pederson revealed that he and the 10-year NFL veteran had talked about it.

“I’ve talked to Kelce about this before, and he’s had a little history and he knows it,” Pederson said. “Listen, he’s a pro and he’s going to get it fixed, but we have to get that center quarterback exchange dialed in and a couple of those were low and those are hard to handle. So I wouldn’t put them all on Jalen, no.”

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Hurts Has Been ‘Explosive’ in Limited Snaps

There has been an increasing chorus from those outside the Eagles’ facility for the team to stop throwing Hurts in on those easily diagnosed zone-read plays.

The dual-threat rookie has been mostly used as a decoy, lining up under center for the direct snap with Carson Wentz sometimes split out wide as a receiver. Hurts has the option to run it himself or throw it. He has 11 rushes for 50 yards while going 2-for-2 for 27 yards as a passer.

“I think early on, we’ve been very explosive with him,” Pederson said. “Gosh, I think we were close to 11 or 12 yards per attempt when he was in the game, something like that. I would say here recently, defenses are playing him a little bit differently. They have had chances to scout him.”

The explosive moment referred to was in Week 6 (Oct. 18) when Hurts ran wild for 23 yards on two carries and even made one reception for three yards. He gave juice to a stagnant offense and set the wheels in motion for an almost-improbable comeback that fell just two points short of beating Baltimore. Pederson hinted that Hurts’ role may increase moving forward.

“We could probably do a little bit more with him,” Pederson said.


Sticking with the Running Game

Pederson’s critics have consistently jumped on him for abandoning the running game too soon. It’s something his mentor, Andy Reid, was notorious for doing during his tenure in Philly. But the Eagles stuck with the run despite trailing the Giants all afternoon. They turned 23 rushing attempts into 156 yards for a blistering 6.8 yards per carry.

Pederson credited what they saw on tape during the week, self-scouting his team’s tendencies in 11 personnel versus 12 personnel. Since the Giants stayed in their base defense for a majority of the game, it made it easier to take advantage of the zone-read stuff. Miles Sanders paced the team with 85 yards.

“Those are all things that we study during the bye,” Pederson said. “Then each week, we try to put our best set of plays in the run game together to attack the front that we’re going to see.”

And with Dallas Goedert still not 100% and Zach Ertz on the mend, look for the Eagles to possibly learn more on 11 personnel.

“I think one of the things we learned is that we have been a lot more effective in our 11 personnel grouping, our 12 personnel,” Pederson said. “12 has kind of been a mixed bag for us.”

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