Doug Pederson addressed the media for the first time since naming Jalen Hurts his starting quarterback for Week 14. The breaking news was over — the Philadelphia Eagles announced it on social media — but there were a few lingering questions that needed answers. The head coach revealed some, others he wanted to keep private.
One of the more curious issues had to do with Carson Wentz’s role for Sunday’s game. Was the benched face of the franchise going to be holding Hurts’ clipboard? Or would the Eagles keep him inactive? The latter move would forego the constant sideline shots on him from the TV cameras.
Of course, it would eliminate Wentz from being available should Hurts falter or incur an injury. And, bigger picture, Wentz’s absence would scream sour grapes. Pederson wants him there, although he didn’t confirm it’s happening.
“Well, we’ll see how the week goes as far as that, to answer that part of the question,” Pederson told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ll see how the week goes but I would expect him to be that.”
The second part of the question was whether benching Wentz signaled the organization was pinning the blame for this miserable season on No. 11. Remember, Pederson rebuffed the idea of sitting Wentz following their Week 11 loss. He stated that would send the “wrong message” to the team, one that the “season is over.” So what changed?
“I’m looking for a little spark, a little shot in the arm to kind of pick the offense up,” Pederson said. “Everybody around Jalen or around Carson has to elevate their game. We can’t do this, they can’t do this alone, right? They can’t do that.”
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No ‘Crystal Ball’ After This Week
When the Eagles first made the announcement about the Wentz benching, they were very calculated in the wording. Pederson never committed to making Hurts the starter for the rest of the year, seeming to imply this might be a one-week tryout for the rookie.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Pederson told reporters on Wednesday. “I can’t predict the future, right? All I can focus on is today and getting our team prepared today and getting our guys ready for Sunday.”
As strange as it sounds, this 3-8-1 football team is still in the thick of the NFC East race. If Hurts struggles this week, there’s a good chance the Eagles throw the job back to Wentz. Perhaps the humbling experience of riding the pine will fix the broken quarterback.
“I think Carson Wentz can be an exceptional quarterback in this league and he’s proven that, right? Back in ’17, ‘18 and last year,” Pederson said. “We got to continue to battle and fight and work and work with him individually, work with him within the confines of the offense, the structure and just get [him] back to being Carson Wentz and back on track.”
Four Players Out, Three Guys Limited
On the injury front, the Eagles saw four players sit out Wednesday’s practice and three other guys participate in a limited capacity. The major names to watch are three starting defenders: DT Fletcher Cox (neck), CB Darius Slay (knee), LB T.J. Edwards (hamstring).
Cox was limited last week at practice and then started in Week 13 and saw 38 snaps. Worth monitoring. Meanwhile, Slay had been nursing a calf injury heading into Week 13 and then picked up a knee contusion during the game. Edwards has been dealing with a hamstring issue dating back to Oct. 8. Stay tuned.