Eagles' Doug Pederson on Benching Carson Wentz for Jalen Hurts: 'Needed a Spark'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2020

Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Given Carson Wentz's struggles this season, it was no surprise that fans in Philadelphia were calling for Jalen Hurts to replace him as the starting quarterback.

That finally happened in the third quarter of the Eagles' 30-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers, as Hurts replaced Wentz with the Birds trailing 20-3.

"We needed a spark," Pederson told reporters after the game. "So I decided to put Jalen in the game."

The move seemed to work, as Hurts led the Eagles on a touchdown drive and Jalen Reagor returned a punt for a touchdown. While the Eagles couldn't pull off the comeback attempt, it pretty clearly set the stage for a quarterback controversy going forward.

"I need to get through this game," Pederson said when asked who would be his quarterback going forward.

He added that he will consider all options "before anything is decided."

Hurts finished the game 5-of-12 for 109 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked three times. Wentz, meanwhile, finished 6-of-15 for 79 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was sacked four times.

The 27-year-old Wentz has been poor this year, throwing for 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while taking a whopping 50 sacks. No quarterback in football has been sacked more or thrown more interceptions.

Moving to Hurts wouldn't fix Philly's struggling, injury-plagued offensive line or materialize more offensive playmakers. There are serious issues with the team's roster. But it's fair to argue at this point that Wentz has actively made them worse, and Hurts appeared to give the Eagles some life after a listless first half.

At 3-8-1, the Eagles are still somehow in the playoff chase, though they find themselves 1.5 games behind the NFC East-leading New York Giants (5-7) in football's worst division.

With the season slipping away, the Eagles might be better off seeing what they have in Hurts. That was the popular viewpoint on social media Sunday:

Bo Wulf @Bo_Wulf

The Eagles fall to 3-8-1. Carson Wentz was rightfully benched before his big-money extension kicks in. The final four games are now about determining whether Jalen Hurts is good enough for the Eagles to ignore QB in the draft.

Jimmy Kempski @JimmyKempski

Not to make too much of a couple nice throws, but it's obvious that Jalen Hurts should be starting the rest of the season. Those couple nice throws are the first positives we've seen in like a month.

Andrew Perloff @andrewperloff

I don’t care how much they paid Carson Wentz - if Jalen Hurts can string together a few drives like that it’s his job.

On the other hand, Wentz's huge contract makes him essentially un-cuttable given the guaranteed money he's owed and will make him extremely hard to trade. Benching him for the rest of the season could irreparably damage his relationship with the team and seriously hurt his confidence going forward.

Rich Hofmann @rich_hofmann

Wentz makes a lot of money. He’s unmovable for a few years. I get it. Have no idea how Hurts will play, but the alternative has not been good enough to justify not finding out.

Mike Greenberg @Espngreeny

It isn’t debatable that the #Eagles looked better today with Jalen Hurts. It’s also a certainty that Carson Wentz is their QB next year because of the contract. So the next few weeks should be very interesting.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't. It hasn't been a very fun football season in Philly.