Carson Wentz won’t be benched for Jalen Hurts
Eagles players answer questions about the decision to punt in overtime in a tie game.
Delaware News Journal
PHILADELPHIA – For now, Eagles coach Doug Pederson won’t hear of benching Carson Wentz in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts, even though Wentz is among the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in several categories.
“No. You don’t go there. That’s a knee-jerk reaction,” Pederson said Monday morning on his weekly radio show on SportsRadio 94.1WIP. “That’s a reaction to the aura that’s out there. That’s not what we believe internally. We’re going to continue to get better.
“Carson’s our quarterback. We’re going to get it fixed. He is going to get it fixed.”
Pederson said later Monday that’s what he is focused on, one day after the Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals played to a 23-23 tie at Lincoln Financial Field, leaving the Eagles at 0-2-1 heading into their game Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers.
There is plenty to fix.
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Wentz threw two interceptions for the third straight game, giving him an NFL-high six for the season. Wentz threw seven interceptions in each of the last three seasons.
Wentz’s completion percentage of 59.8 ranks ahead of only four current starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and his passer rating of 63.9 is last.
As a comparison, Seattle’s Russell Wilson leads the NFL with a rating of 139, and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson’s rating is 134.6.
“I think one of the ways we (fix the problems), and really to kind of maybe unclutter his mind some, is to play fast, play uptempo, where players don’t have to think, they just react,” Pederson said. “That has been a recipe for us over the years, and it’s something we may have to lean on a little bit more.”
Keep in mind, that fits Hurts’ style. At Oklahoma last season, Hurts ran for 1,298 yards while throwing for 3,851.
Hurts was on the field for three more plays Sunday after getting three plays against the Rams the week before.
Hurts did not touch the ball against the Rams. On Sunday, Hurts ran the ball once for 8 yards, handed off to Miles Sanders, and fumbled on another handoff to Sanders. He recovered the fumble.
Hurts still has not attempted a pass.
Wentz, who went 29 of 47 for 225 yards with a touchdown and the 2 INTs, also has shown an ability to run.
Wentz gained 65 yards on 9 rushes, both career highs. Wentz’s previous high was 8 carries for 63 yards, both against Washington in 2017.
Against the Bengals, Wentz escaped pressure early in the game and gained 24 yards. On the Eagles’ game-tying TD drive in the final minutes of regulation, Wentz escaped pressure and converted a third-and-9.
Then on the TD from the Bengals’ 7 yard line, Wentz escaped pressure and dove into the end zone.
“We’ve encouraged him to do that,” Pederson said. “That puts pressure on defenses, and it’s one of the talents he has.”
Still, Wentz threw the two interceptions – the first on a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage; the second on a bad pass intended for Zach Ertz late in the third quarter that led to a Bengals field goal.
He also overthrew Sanders early in the fourth quarter on a play down the sideline that likely would have been a touchdown. The Eagles punted instead.
Sanders said he was impressed with Wentz’s ability to bounce back from the interceptions and rally the Eagles to the game-tying TD in the fourth quarter.
“I saw a lot of leadership. I saw big boy football from 11,” Sanders said. “You never want to turn the ball over again … I thought he fought his (butt) off the rest of the game, and gave us a chance to get the ‘W.'”
But Pederson isn’t completely pleased with Wentz’s play. When asked whether this should be happening in Wentz’s fifth season, Pederson said all quarterbacks are continually trying to improve.
“If you’re not striving to get better, I think you’re going the other way,” he said. “And we have to make sure that we’re going in the right direction.”
As for Hurts, it’s possible that he’ll continue to get more snaps.
“If there is a time we throw Jalen in there, we don’t look at it as he’s a receiver,” quarterbacks coach Press Taylor said last week. “We look at it as we are getting two quarterbacks on the field … Every time we do something like that, it’s purely to give our offense an advantage and threaten the defense another way.”
Goedert, Maddox ‘will miss some time’
The Eagles suffered injuries to three more key players on Sunday, and it’s possible that two of them won’t be returning in the near future.
Pederson said both tight end Dallas Goedert and cornerback Avonte Maddox “will miss some time.” Both left with ankle injuries. Goedert left after making a catch in the first quarter, and Maddox hurt his ankle in the third quarter.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury, and didn’t return. Pederson said Jackson is day-to-day and that he’s “optimistic” Jackson can play Sunday against the 49ers.