The burning question in Philadelphia has finally been answered. Jalen Hurts will be the starting QB moving forward. Some people love it, some people hate it, but regardless of which side you fall on this is a massive decision that has the potential to completely change the tides of this franchise for the better or for the worst.
Why Wentz needed to be benched
First off, let’s put to bed the idea that Wentz was not a big part of the problem this season. Yes, the playcalling has been awful. Yes, the players around him have been awful (and not just in this season). Those things are true. However, Wentz has fallen to a new low this season. In seasons past, Wentz would’ve a handful of WOW plays every game amidst the chaos and inconsistency that reminded you the type of QB he was. You could live with the consistency issues because you realized he was doing his best with what little talent he had to work with. Unfortunately, he’s not doing that this year. At BEST, he has a couple of “that was decent” plays every game. He’s been horrible for much of this season. He has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in JUST 3 games this year. He has thrown for more than 250 passing yards only 3 times. He has thrown an interception in 9/12 games. He has thrown 2+ interceptions in 50% of his starts this season. He is not reading the field well, his mechanics have regressed, his accuracy is bad, and he has no confidence in himself or the players around him. A lot of that falls on the Eagles failure to surround Wentz with consistent and reliable talent. But regardless of who’s fault it is, Wentz is a broken QB that cannot be fixed this season. So a positive spin on benching him, is that you allow him to take a back seat and focus squarely on getting back to his old self for 2021. Starting him for the rest of this pointless season serves no purpose.
Why starting Hurts is the right decision for 2020
The reality is that this is going to be a huge offseason for the Eagles. I imagine jobs will be on the line. Howie, Doug, Schwartz, and Wentz are all being watched under a microscope. Yes they’ve been in two straight playoff runs, but the theme of those playoff runs is late comebacks beating up on weak division rivals. The Eagles are 11-5 against NFCE opponents since the start of 2018, but a measly 10-18-1 vs non-NFCE opponents in that same span. They have taken advantage of mediocrity in the past, but this year that strategy is catching up to them. They are now apart of that mediocrity and its evaluation time. But it’s difficult to evaluate when everybody involved appears to be performing equally as awful. So, by replacing Wentz with Hurts now we can start that evaluation process. Does the playcalling start to look better with a more athletic and more confident QB? Do the WR’s start to look better? Does the Defense start to rally? If none of these things happen, and everything stays the same, then at the very worst we can cross Wentz off as not being the primary problem. But if those things do happen, then perhaps we change our tunes a bit with Doug, Howie, and some of the skill position players on the field. Above all else, giving Hurts the opportunity to show what he has will be interesting to see. If he plays lights out perhaps the Eagles have found their Wentz replacement. Or, if they don’t want to replace Wentz maybe they can get a good trade package for Hurts. There, however, is no downside to playing Hurts. Even if he sucks and you lose out, then you know you’re sticking with Wentz and you have a top 5 pick to replenish the roster with.
Potential worst case scenarios
Despite my appeared enthusiasm for the move, I do need to make clear that this move does have a chance to completely blow up right in their faces. It could cause a divide in the locker room, it could cause a struggling Wentz to fall into unfixable territory, it could decimate Carson’s trade value, and it opens up the possibility that the Eagles could be stuck paying a backup QB 30+ million in 2021. My initial thought after the first month of the season was that the Eagles could not afford to bench Wentz this season as doing so would kill his trade value, and would cause a franchise shift. As soon as you make a player a backup, their value drops. Benching him makes it harder to sell him high, and not letting him finish the season also gives him no shot at finishing the year on a high note. So unless Jalen Hurts is a superstar the Eagles will likely be heading into the offseason with a giant question mark over their QB position. Will they get enough to justify trading Carson? Will Carson be back to his old self coming into training camp? These are questions that will have to be answered.
Potential Best Case Scenario
There are many different routes you could go with this. But I think the absolute best case scenario is that Jalen Hurts balls out these next 4 games, and Carson Wentz gets to take a back seat and get his mind right. Then in the offseason the eagles are able to trade Jalen Hurts for a solid haul. That would be the best outcome. Even if they don’t trade Hurts, I still think Howie and Doug would prefer to have Wentz moving forward given all they’ve invested in him. It would be a shame to say goodbye to such a talented QB after 1 bad season.
Next up is the New Orlean Saints. This will be an extremely tough task for Jalen Hurts. The Saints have an elite defense and have been performing like a top 3 Pass defense over the last 2 months. It is unrealistic to expect a perfect outing from Hurts given the circumstances. So let’s see if he can atleast do the little things right. Use his legs to make some big plays, and escape pressure, give his players a chance to make a play, and read the field well. Hopefully next week we’re raving about the performance that Jalen Hurts put up.