Sean Payton watched Jalen Hurts carve up his top-ranked defense last week in a shocking upset. And heaped lofty praise on the dual-threat rookie quarterback after the game, but he may have had his eyes fixated on Hurts’ backup in Philadelphia.
According to New Orleans Saints blogger Michael Balko, Payton absolutely “loves” Carson Wentz as a player and may pursue a trade for him in the offseason. The offensive-minded coach thinks he can “fix” the “broken” Eagles quarterback, per Balko who cited anonymous sources.
The Saints have been starting Taysom Hill at quarterback for the past four weeks as Drew Brees recovers from serious chest injuries (ribs, lung). Brees is expected to return in Week 15, but the franchise looks unsettled at the position moving forward. New Orleans also has former Tampa Bay starter Jameis Winston on their roster. Earlier this week, Payton poked holes in the Wentz report by saying: “I feel like our next quarterback is in the building.”
Payton talked about both Wentz and Hurts last week when he addressed the Eagles’ new-look offense during his media availability.
“There’s an element of the running game that’s unique, and it’s not just zone read,” Payton said. “It’s some of that, you saw (it) with Carson (Wentz). Both of those guys are athletic guys that can make plays out of the pocket. They’re both very good out of the pocket.”
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Saints Once ‘Put the Game On’ Wentz
Payton took heat for comments he made about deliberately “putting the game on Wentz” when the Saints and Eagles met in 2018. Translation: Payton didn’t think Wentz could beat him and tailored the gameplan around that thought process.
The Saints coach made it clear that he “liked” Wentz as a player but he took the advice of his player-personnel analyst to make the Eagles a “one-dimensional offense.” Payton told NBC Sports’ Peter King that Philly had been 0-9 when Wentz passed for between 308 and 364 yards.
Payton likes Wentz as a player, but his player-personnel analyst, Ryan Herman, gives him trends and numbers every week, and Payton tells the group two interesting ones about Wentz, from Herman: The Eagles are 1-11 when Wentz plays and they allow more than 26 points. And he’s 0-9 when he passes for between 308 and 364 yards, the point being if he does that, the Eagles likely won’t be running the ball well, and the Saints feel they can beat a one-dimensional offense.
Hurts’ Leadership Wowing Eagles Teammates
Back to Hurts for a minute. His “coffee bean” confidence has been a talking point all week, plus the leadership just comes naturally to him. It’s been pretty impressive to watch his interactions with teammates in the huddle, according to head coach Doug Pederson, and it’s a noticeable trait. Credit Averion Hurts, his dad who serves as head coach at Channelview High School in Texas.
“It’s very important,” Pederson said of Hurts’ leadership. “You just look at the history of Jalen and the big games and the teams that he has been on in college and how he’s been in that leadership role. I think that was kind of instilled in him at an early age with his family and his father, just having that work ethic and nothing really bothers him. Nothing really shakes him up. He just steps in and commands the huddle.”
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