The hard truth of the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles is that their obvious struggles are not the result of any single player. Rather, an amalgam of factors across the season have contributed to their dismal 3-6-1 record. Injuries, particularly through the first leg of the season, crippled both the offensive line and the receiving corps. Dubious coaching decisions have also helped bury this team, such as Pederson’s insistence to try two-point conversions in confounding circumstances. And yes, player performance has also played a large part. Carson Wentz, as the face of the franchise, has woefully underperformed amid a flurry of turnovers this season. Now, as the Eagles still continue a playoff push, it is his job on the line.
Carson Wentz has failed the eye test miserably this season and a look at the statistics only bolster the validity of that assessment. Entering week 11, he ranked 32nd in completion percentage at 58.2, 31st in yards per attempt at 6.1, and first in the dreaded categories of interceptions (12) and sacks taken (35). Week 11’s defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns was also a display of Wentz’s worst qualities. He tossed two more picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and was sacked an additional five times, one of which resulted in a safety for the Browns. Coach Pederson expressed after the game that benching Wentz at this time would send the wrong message to his team. But one has to wonder, are the Birds receiving any right messages with Wentz under center?
The obvious replacement at the quarterback position would be rookie Jalen Hurts, who the Eagles selected in the second round of the most recent NFL draft. Hurts has been used very occasionally by the Eagles this season, largely as a rushing option with passing capability for gadget plays. In the event that Hurts does get the nod to start at quarterback, it’s unclear what the impact will be on offense. I think it’s unlikely that Hurts improves the aerial attack as he would be playing regular downs against NFL defenders for the very first time. He also doesn’t have the rapport that Wentz has at least attempted to build with the pass-catching options this year. However, Hurts would provide the Eagles with an interesting hybrid rushing attack and option runs could offer a spark for the offense. The most important result for the Eagles will be in the turnover category and it seems unlikely that Hurts could give the ball away more than Wentz has this season.
A further consideration for the Eagles is on the financial end of things. Wentz is currently under contract through the 2024 season for just about 32 million annually. That’s some serious cap space to just waste away on the bench. It’s too much money to simply cut him but it’s also rare that a team would choose to trade for him and absorb the contract with the way he’s been performing as of late.
I truly think that Carson Wentz gives the Eagles the best chance to win the division in 2020. While a start for Hurts could be interesting, and even thrilling, I don’t think it makes sense in either the short or long term for this team. No official change has been made at quarterback yet, but Pederson has appeared increasingly uncertain when asked about his starter for Monday night’s matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. Another wrinkle is that word from certain Seahawks’ players, such as DK Metcalf and DeeJay Dallas, is that they are in support of the Eagles benching Wentz in favor of Hurts. Who knows if this a form of trash talk leading up to the contest or their genuine thoughts but it could serve to inspire either of these signal callers.