Figuring out whether Jalen Hurts or Carson Wentz will be the quarterback of the future is going to be the biggest obstacle facing the Eagles this offseason. The team has plenty of holes to fill, but none of them truly matter until the quarterback dilemma is solved.
It’s not a cut and dry discussion either. No one knows how good Hurts is at this point. He’s played relatively well through this three-game stretch, throwing six touchdowns, averaging 282.3 passing yards per game, and posting an 85.53 passer rating. But, he’s also fumbled way too frequently, putting the ball on the turf five times in three games. He also hasn’t completed over 57 percent of his passes in any of these three games.
It’s impossible to know what Hurts is. A four-game sample size just isn’t enough to make any kind of conclusion.
We also don’t really know what Wentz is at this point in his career. Was his poor play just a product of playing behind a shape shifting offensive line and having an inconsistent play caller, or have the injuries caught up to him and screwed up his mental stability? Again, it’s impossible to know right now.
There are a few scenarios that can play out this offseason regarding Hurts and Wentz. Here are the three most likely.
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Eagles fire Doug Pederson, hold open competition at QB
This one feels like the most likely at this point. If Doug Pederson was able to lead this team to the postseason with Hurts as his guy under center, he probably would’ve saved his job. But with the team officially eliminated from playoff contention, the writing may be on the wall for Doug.
Depending on who the Eagles decide to bring in to replace him, they’ll probably prefer one quarterback over the other, or maybe they’ll like what both of them bring to the table.
We’ve seen a few reports from anonymous NFL coaches and general managers that’ve said Wentz still has pro bowl potential as long as he’s used correctly. I have to imagine some of the coaches that will be available this offseason would love to work with Wentz and help him get his career back on track.
There are probably coaches that love the potential Hurts has showcased as well. His running ability opens the playbook more than it would with Wentz, and Hurts has shown the ability to throw the ball all over the field.
Both of these quarterbacks have distinct styles to their games. Any solid offensive mind will be able to mold their offense around one of these guys, so holding an open competition and allowing the best man to win would be the best way to go.
Eagles keep Doug Pederson, roll with Hurts as the guy moving forward
The Eagles organization may already be out on Carson Wentz. There’s no doubt they regret handing him the four-year, $128 million extension, so maybe they’re looking to get out of it so they won’t have to worry about it past this offseason.
The Doug Pederson-Carson Wentz era of football feels like it’s over. The duo is 35-33-1 together and they don’t even have a full playoff game together on their resume. If Pederson is going to remain the head coach in Philly, it’ll be because the organization feels confident he can win with Hurts as his franchise quarterback.
The offense has certainly looked better with Hurts running the show, especially to open ball games. In the first half of these past three games, Hurts has thrown five touchdowns to no INTs, completed 63 percent of his passes, posted a 123.2 passer rating, and scored 54 points. In the second half, teams have adjusted and shut Hurts down for the most part. He’s only completed 49 percent of his passes, he’s thrown just one touchdown to three INTs, and has posted a passer rating of 58.3.
Some of that is to be expected with a rookie quarterback. So, maybe the team believes Pederson can get it fixed and help Hurts develop into a more consistent quarterback.
Pederson’s job security always felt like it was tied to Hurts’ early development. While I’m still not sold on the Pederson-Hurts duo yet, perhaps the organization is. It’s hard to tell.
All I know is that if Doug is back next year, it’ll likely be with Hurts as his guy under center.
Eagles fire Pederson, trade Wentz, hire new HC and draft a QB
This scenario doesn’t get discussed as much as it should. The Eagles could potentially end up with the third overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. At the very least, they’ll be in the top six to seven range and be in position to draft a quarterback if that’s the direction they decide to go in.
The 2021 class is loaded with QB talent — there could be up to five or six quarterbacks drafted on the first night this year. While I theorized earlier that a new head coach could like what they have in either Wentz or Hurts, it’s possible that they want to start fresh with their own guy out of the draft.
Pederson was given the opportunity to mold his own quarterback when he was hired, so I don’t think he’ll be given another opportunity to mold another rookie quarterback. Especially with Hurts getting drafted just one year prior. Jeffrey Lurie clearly understands the value of getting his head coach the quarterback he desires, so he won’t handicap his coaching search by taking drafting a quarterback out of the realm of possibilities.
In this scenario, Wentz will be traded. There will be no reason to keep Wentz on the payroll if the team is clearly moving in another direction, and drafting a quarterback with a top-10 pick would be an obvious indication of that. They could still hold onto Hurts as the backup, or even have him compete for the starting job with whoever the team selects.
It’s still unclear how likely this scenario is, but it’s certainly not impossible.