PHILADELPHIA (CBS)- The Eagles snapped their four-game losing streak Sunday with a 24-21 win over the New Orleans Saints in rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts’ first NFL start. Though the passing numbers from Hurts, 17-for-30 for 167 yards and one touchdown, weren’t eye-popping, it seemed clear that the offense was better able to function with him at quarterback than it has been with Carson Wentz this season.
That of course leads to questions. Why did the offense, which has looked stagnant at best and in complete disarray at worst this season, look, at the very least, competent on Sunday against the league’s best defense? Was it all Hurts? Head coach Doug Pederson was quick to point out after the game that the effort wasn’t just about Hurts, it was a bunch of guys stepping up. But, as ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky pointed out Monday morning on Get Up, there was a different feel to Sunday’s game from a pure play calling stand point that may signal a disconnect between Pederson and Wentz.
“First of all the thing directly is there is something that we don’t see going on with Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz. There is something. The play calling was completely different. The feel of that game was completely different. That defense played inspired football,” said Orlovsky. “You don’t go from one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL and one of the top guys in the world in doing what you do to all of a sudden not being able to do it, unless it’s up here. There is something with his thought process and the disconnect between him and Doug Pederson.”
.@danorlovsky7 thinks the Eagles are getting to a point where the question of trading Carson Wentz is becoming more and more realistic.
"How do you have both [Hurts and Wentz] on your team at the same time next year?! I don't see how that's even remotely possible." pic.twitter.com/sNMBYOaXLU
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) December 14, 2020
It’s not the first time we’ve seen the team rally around a quarterback not named Wentz late in the season. A similar scenario played out in 2018 when Wentz was unable to play in the final four games due to a back injury. Nick Foles came in, led what had been a stagnant offense and team to four straight wins and a playoff victory. Ryan Clark, joining Orlovsky on Get Up Monday, said that the cause of that difference in play has to be one of the main questions facing the team.
“I can’t necessarily say that Jalen Hurts is the sole reason that the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New Orleans Saints. But I can say that Carson Wentz not being the quarterback is the reason the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New Orleans Saints,” said Clark. “We saw that Jalen Hurts, when pressured on 14 plays, they gain 82 yards because he got outside of the pocket. We saw how effective the designed quarterback run could be and also the scramble out of the pocket. And Jalen Hurts was poised, he looked like he was in full command of what Doug Pederson was asking him to do. But everybody else played better and that’s what I mean about Carson Wentz not being the quarterback. Look at the Philadelphia Eagles when they played with Nick Foles we saw the defense step up, the run game. We saw some of the same things in Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday. The question has to be, why is that? Why is our team better when Carson Wentz isn’t the quarterback?”
"I can't necessarily say that Jalen Hurts is the sole reason that the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New Orleans Saints, but I can say that Carson Wentz NOT being the quarterback IS the reason the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New Orleans Saints."
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) December 14, 2020
Sure, part of the better performance from the defense on Sunday can be attributed to playing an inaccurate and mostly ineffective Taysom Hill. Would the result be the same with Drew Brees facing the decimated Eagles secondary? Likely not. But, if nothing else, there was a clear difference in the creativity and scheme offensively that the team hadn’t shown with Wentz. Hurts and Wentz are different quarterbacks to be sure. But, it’s still a puzzling performance to see the same pieces with a new quarterback perform vastly better.
Heading into Sunday it was assumed Hurts was going to struggle against a strong Saints defense. Now, if he plays well the next three games, Orlovsky says he doesn’t see how both players can be on the team next year.
“I said this last week, the more Jalen Hurts plays, plays better and wins football games, the question of can we trade Carson Wentz becomes more realistic. I know the draft picks and the money and all of that. It’s the NFL nothing should surprise anybody,” said Orlovsky. “And then two, if people in that organization believe that the draft pick of Jalen Hurts affected Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts continues to play well, how do you have both of them on your team at the same time next year?”
Later in the day Monday, Pederson made it official, announcing that Hurts would be the team’s starter for their Week 15 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
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