It was the longest 48 hours in the history of Philadelphia Eagles football. Now it’s over and onward. Jalen Hurts will take over the starting quarterback duties for the team this week versus the New Orleans Saints. Carson Wentz is headed to the bench for the foreseeable future.
Head coach Doug Pederson made the calculated decision — arguably the biggest one in Philly sports history — after much thought and revealed why on the team’s website. His main reason? To provide a spark to his stagnant offense and get the Eagles over the hump.
Believe it or not, Pederson’s squad still has a legitimate shot at winning the NFC East with four games remaining in the oddest season to date. If they do run the table and win the division, it will be behind their dual-threat rookie quarterback.
“I have come to a decision and I am going to go with Jalen Hurts this week against New Orleans,” Pederson told 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.”
Hurts accounted for 138 total yards last week after being inserted with 7:38 left in the third quarter. He connected with his good friend Greg Ward for his first NFL touchdown pass while racking up back-to-back first downs on the ground. It wasn’t a dominating performance by any stretch but it provided a spark, one the Eagles’ offense had been desperately trying to ignite for 13 weeks to no avail.
“I just want to see development,” Pederson told the team’s website. “I think it’s a great opportunity for him, a great opportunity for the team.”
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Further Explaining Decision to Bench Wentz
ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio later shared a text message exchange he had with Pederson further clarifying the reason for the switch. He chalked it up to the same logic for pulling Wentz from last Sunday’s game: simply put, the Eagles’ offense needed a spark and Hurts can give it to them. That’s it.
“Same reason I made the switch in the game,” the text read. “We need a spark. It’s not about one guy here. We all know we need to be better, coach and player. Doing this for the same reason; we need a spark, offense has been poor for many reasons. Opportunity for Jalen’s development. Still have great belief in Carson as a QB and leader of the team. We have to get him better and the offense as well.”
Pederson: ‘I Know We Can Get Back to That Level’
The Eagles didn’t announce whether Hurts was the definite starter for the next four weeks. The assumption is yes, but Pederson didn’t want to get into the “hypotheticals” or discuss what he told Wentz about what appears to be a fluid situation.
The head coach did go out of his way to praise Wentz for his contributions to the Super Bowl team and expressed confidence in the face of the franchise, the guy the organization doled out a $128 million contract extension to two summers ago.
“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.”
Wentz probably saw the writing on the wall. Pederson has been rumored to be on the “hot seat” in Philly and trying to catch lightning in a bottle with Hurts was his best chance at turning the tide. Wentz may even benefit from taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture from afar. As legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight once said: “The greatest motivator in the world is your a** on the bench.”
“At the end of the day, it’s outside of my control,” Wentz said after Sunday’s loss, via NFL.com. “That’s not for me [to decide]. I know what I’m capable of. I know I can play better. I have never doubted myself or lost my confidence in my abilities. But a lot of these things are out of my control.”