Troy Aikman Clarifies Doug Pederson Comments, Evaluates Eagles QB Situation

Troy Aikman, Nate Sudfeld

Getty Former Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman chats with Philadelphia Eagles backup Nate Sudfeld before a game in 2018.

Troy Aikman made the headlines for seeming to describe an internal power struggle between the Eagles’ front office and Doug Pederson. The Dallas Cowboys legend opined that the outgoing head coach preferred to proceed with Jalen Hurts as the starter while ownership wanted Carson Wentz. That’s not exactly what he said.

Aikman did reach out to Pederson and the two had a conversation about his surprising dismissal. However, the Hall of Famer wasn’t privy to any inside information on the inner workings of the Eagles’ organization. He was stating his opinion on the matter, something he vehemently pointed out to the gossip mongers at Pro Football Talk.

Aikman’s “belief” was that Pederson wanted to stick with Hurts and team owner Jeffrey Lurie preferred Wentz. It came down to a “difference of opinion” as to how the franchise was going to move forward. Here is the full transcript of what he told the Michael Irvin Podcast:

“I reached out to Doug Pederson yesterday when I heard the news and I’m surprised and what I gathered … I don’t know, I don’t have any insight, but what I gathered, what it came down to was a difference of opinion as to how they were moving forward at the quarterback position is what I sensed. I sensed that Jeff Lurie, the owner, has paid a lot of money to Carson Wentz and they’re on the hook with him, they can’t get out of that contract right away — and yet it’s my belief that Doug Pederson felt that Jalen Hurts was probably the quarterback going forward and how does that mesh and so I just — without having any understanding of what took place in that meeting — I think they said there’s a difference of opinion as to how they are going to go forward and correct this past season and I believe it all came down to how they were going to handle Carson Wentz and that’s why Doug Pederson is now looking for a job.”

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Wentz ‘Compounded the Problems’ on Eagles’ Offense

Irvin also asked Aikman to share his thoughts on Wentz’s miserable 2020 campaign where he led the NFL in interceptions (15) and sacks (50) while finishing second-worst in fumbles (10). All that despite sitting out four games after getting benched for Hurts. It wasn’t entirely Wentz’s fault as he dealt with multiple injuries on the offensive line, plus a boatload of issues at the receiver position.

Aikman let the Eagles quarterback off the hook for some of the problems on offense but not all of them. Wentz needs to protect the ball better — and not “compound the problems” — before the franchise can fully trust him again.

“The franchise quarterback cannot compound the problems and Carson Wentz compounded the problems with the way he was not protecting the football and not getting the ball out of his hands and taking sacks. And he would not give up on a play and sometimes that’s admirable but when you’re getting hit by six guys and you could have gone down on the first hit — and you’re not going anywhere, you know, there’s a time to live and fight another day. And so I think he’s been beaten down pretty good because of the struggles around him, and it’s going to be a project as to whoever becomes the head coach, I think. They’re going to have to build him up and see if they can’t him back to where he has the confidence again to go out and play at a high level. But it has been a long time, it wasn’t just this year. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Carson Wentz really play at the level he needs to play at or any quarterback needs to play at.”


Eagles Had Questions About Wentz in April

While many were shocked to see the Eagles take a quarterback in the second round of last April’s draft, it’s starting to make sense. The organization clearly didn’t have a ton of confidence in Wentz returning to his 2017 MVP form, so they grabbed an insurance policy.

They probably didn’t think they’d need to cash it out in 2020, but Wentz’s struggles altered the “new normal.” Aikman saw the Hurts’ pick as the Eagles questioning the future at the quarterback position and now it’s up to a new head coach to figure it all out. It’s not going to be an easy situation to manage.

“A lot of people thought the Eagles were crazy when they drafted Jalen Hurts. I think it really points out that they had their questions as well with Carson going into this season, you know, going back to the draft last year. That’s why they took him where they drafted him. But I agree with you [Irvin] — you know that, and there’s a lot to be learned in our coutrny based on how athletes do things in their own locker room, where it’s on merit. And any coach who comes in, those players know what Jalen Hurts did for that team offensively and they still have strong feelings towards Casrson Wentz as well, but the best player has to be able to have an opportunity to play and I don’t know that you can come in with preconceived ideas as to who is going to be your starter with the way the season ended between those two.”

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