Carson Wentz benched for Jalen Hurts as Eagles now have potential QB dilemma

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The Eagles finally saw enough from Carson Wentz on Sunday -- and they had to like what they saw from Jalen Hurts.

Trailing 20-3 midway through the third, the Eagles went to backup Jalen Hurts against the Green Bay Packers, a move that has been debated for weeks while Wentz has struggled.

Yes, the Eagles lost the game, 30-16, but that isn’t the story from this one. At 3-8-1, the season is all but over.

The real story is that the Eagles now have the quarterback controversy they invited when they took Hurts with a second-round pick. The question now is who starts next week vs. New Orleans — Wentz or Hurts? Was this move a temporary one, or is it permanent?

We will have all week to discuss and debate it, but for now, here are some thoughts on the game and the decision to go to Hurts:

Quarterbacks
*** The change everyone has been waiting for happened midway through the third quarter, with Wentz heading to the bench and Jalen Hurts setting in at quarterback. Two plays later, Hurts hit Jalen Reagor down the sideline for a 37-yard completion, giving the offense the instant spark it needed and has been waiting for. There is no denying that with Hurts in the game the offense seemed to have some life that it didn’t with Wentz in there.
*** The offense moved with Hurts on the field. On his second drive, Hurts took the offense 73 yards on nine plays, throwing a perfect 32-yard touchdown to Greg Ward on 4th-and-18 to get the Eagles their first touchdown of the game. Hurts night ended with his first career interception, but anyone who watched that game could see the difference in the offense with Hurts running it.
*** Wentz was 6/15 for 79 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions when he was pulled. It wasn’t his worst game of the season, but once again, the offense looked lost with him under center. Did Wentz play poorly enough to be benched on Sunday? That is debatable. But the Eagles had one last card to play, and they finally did it on Sunday by putting in Hurts.
*** Wentz took bad back-to-back sacks on the Eagles’ second drive of the game, moving a promising drive that was in Packers territory and pushing the offense out of field goal range. The sacks were similar to the ones Wentz has been taking all season — poor pocket presence combined with a refusal to just throw the ball away. Wentz used to be so good at navigating the pocket. Now, he looks so confused the second the pocket breaks down.
*** The Eagles’ biggest issue prior to Hurts going in was that they couldn't pass the ball. It is a combination of issues, no doubt. But the bottom line is a team with a $128 million quarterback not being able to pass the ball is the main issue with this team. The Eagles paid big money to have an elite passing game with Carson Wentz, and that hasn’t happened. The fact that Hurts got a 37-yard completion almost immediately after coming in certainly didn’t look good for Wentz.

Receivers
*** Rookie receiver Jalen Reagor had a beautiful 73-yard punt return midway through the fourth quarter, pulling the team within 23-16. Reagor did an excellent job making multiple defenders miss, then also keeping his feet inbounds as he tight-ropped down the sideline.
** Alshon Jeffery started over Travis Fulgham. He played more than Fulgham early on. The Eagles’ insistence on playing Jeffery is truly baffling.
*** Zach Ertz returned for the first time since landing on injured reserve with an ankle injury, but the Eagles still prioritized Dallas Goedert. Goedert got 3 targets on the Eagles’ opening drive, to just one for Ertz. The transition from Ertz being this team’s top tight end to Goedert taking over his spot continues.

Running Backs
*** The Eagles talked all offseason about making Miles Sanders the No. 1 running back. Well, in the first 10 carries of the game, Sanders had five — the same total as Boston Scott and Jordan Howard had. At halftime, the duo had more total carries than Sanders. The Eagles not giving Sanders the ball more, and basically making him part of a rotation, makes no sense.

Offensive Line
*** It is always hard to tell exactly who is to blame along the offensive line off of the TV copy, but one thing was clear — the offensive line was not great. Wentz had issues with his decisions in the pocket, but the reason he had to make so many decisions was there was pressure in his face all the time. Wentz can be better, but the offensive line was an issue against the Packers.
*** After Hurts went in the Eagles’ offense was clicking and seemed to be on their way to their first touchdown drive of the game when a 28-yard run by Boston Scott got them down to the Packers’ 7-yard line. A holding call on Seumalo, however, killed the play and the drive.

Defensive Line
*** Javon Hargrave made a big play to start the game, bringing down Aaron Rodgers on the Packers’ opening drive to force the Packers into a 3rd-and-23. Hargrave has been a disappointment so far this season, but Hargrave struggling early on shouldn’t be surprising considering he missed almost all of training camp with an upper-body injury. The Eagles saw a similar thing happen with with Brandon Graham in 2018 and Fletcher Cox in 2019. We'll get a better look at Hargrave over the last 5 games.

Linebackers 
*** Alex Singleton has been great the last few weeks, but he looked lost in coverage on the Packers’ second touchdown of the game, letting Robert Tonyan get wide-open behind him from 25-yards out to give the Packers a 14-3 lead.

Secondary
*** Darius Slay let up the first touchdown of the game, losing a 1-on-1 jump ball to Packers receiver Davante Adams on 4th-down from one-yard out on the Packers’ second drive. In Slay’s defense, winning 1-on-1 matchups with Adams is not easy, and he did knock the ball away from Adams on the previous play to force the 4th down. The Eagles pay Slay big money to big plays, however, and Slay couldn’t get it done on 4th down.
*** After the special-teams pinned the Packers on the one-yard line in the third quarter, the Eagles’ secondary immediately gave up a 42-yard completion down the middle of the field to Adams. It was a tremendous throw from Rodgers to Adams, and it looked like Slay and Avonte Maddox were in coverage. The drive ended with Adams pushing Slay to the ground on a nine-yard touchdown catch, completing the Packers’ 99-yard touchdown drive and putting the Eagles in a 20-3 hole.

Doug Pederson 
*** Like he did against Cleveland, Doug Pederson came out trying to run the ball. The Eagles’ first two plays were runs, and their third was a quarterback sneak for a first down. Overall, the Eagles had seven runs to seven passes on the opening drive, which killed just over seven minutes off the clock and netted them a 3-0 lead.
*** The Eagles’ offense, one again, looked completely broken. After a field goal drive to start the game, the Eagles didn’t score on their next three possessions before halftime, totaling 90 yards on 31 plays. They once again looked lost, hopeless and nothing like a unit that was capable of presenting any kind of threat to the Packers.
*** Pederson’s decision to go to Hurts was not an easy one, but he did it, and it energized the team. It is also worth pointing out that with Hurts in the game the offense moved right down the field, which certainly is interesting considering many blamed the play calling when Wentz was in.

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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