It’s official. According to reports from Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson, Doug Pederson has named Jalen Hurts as the starting quarterback for the Eagles Week 14 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
Pederson also made a statement on the QB change following the reports.
He started off this statement by saying, “I have come to a decision and I am going to go with Jalen Hurts this week against New Orleans. We’re not where we want to be as an offense. I looked at the whole thing and decided that for this week to look for that spark again to try to get the team over the hump, to try to get everybody playing better.” Pederson also emphasized that this decision was his and his alone.
There are a few things to unpack from this news and Pederson’s statement. First, it sounds like this could be a week-to-week thing. It doesn’t sound like he or the Eagles organization is giving up on Wentz and it doesn’t seem like they’re ready to give the keys to the franchise to Hurts, yet.
They’ll obviously need to see a lot out of Hurts for them to make that leap. They’ll probably need to see a lot of promise out of this week’s matchup from Hurts to even roll with him the rest of the way this season.
Hurts will have his work cut out for him against the Saints. New Orleans has the first ranked overall defense in the league, allowing 3,466 yards on the year. They’re tied for second in yards allowed per play (4.9), tied for fourth in turnovers (19), and sixth in passing yards allowed (2,553).
The Saints also have a very good front-seven, recording 36 sacks this season, third most in the NFL. And they have the fourth highest sack percentage in football (8.2%).
The Eagles offensive line has been abysmal in protecting the passer this year, allowing a league-high 53 sacks in 2020. Not all of those sacks fall on the offensive line. Wentz has held onto the ball for way too long at times, and his receivers have struggled getting open downfield.
If Pederson wants to protect Hurts and get the most out of him, it would behoove him to run the ball and design a plethora or short timing pass plays to get Hurts in a rhythm. Doug hasn’t done that consistently for Wentz, but Wentz has also missed wide open guys on short routes several times this season. Maybe Hurts will be able to find those guys, we’ll have to see in this ball game.
Hurts undeniably provided a spark for the offense when he came in against Green Bay. He threw for about 30 more yards than Wentz did in less time played, he led the offense to their only touchdown of the day, and he made some decisive decisions with the football.
If he’s able to do that against New Orleans, the offense should be able to move the ball better than they have when Wentz was leading the charge.
We can point to several holes on this offense — receivers, offensive line, play calling — but good quarterback play can help mitigate all of those issues. Wentz hasn’t been good by any stretch this year. He’s played his way out of funks throughout his career, but it’s just never materialized this season.
If Hurts proves he can overcome some of these offensive shortcomings, as a rookie second round pick making his first start, the writing may already be on the wall for Wentz’s future in Philly.
Will that happen? It’s not likely facing the Saints defense. But we’ve seen crazier things happen this season. I’ll be rooting for the kid on Sunday. Regardless of what the outcome is, it’ll be fascinating to watch it unfold.
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