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Philly wonders whether Jalen Hurts should replace Carson Wentz, but Doug Pederson won't go there

Liz Roscher
·3-min read

It’s a question no one would have imagined asking three years ago, two years ago or even one year ago. Yet as the Philadelphia Eagles stare at an 0-2-1 record in the face after an embarrassing and puzzling tie against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, head coach Doug Pederson can’t avoid the question anymore.

Should Carson Wentz be benched?

Should Jalen Hurts start instead of Carson Wentz?

Pederson couldn’t avoid the question on Monday morning when he called into Philly sports talk radio station 94WIP. He was asked the question, a question that’s been floating in the heads of many Eagles fans for several weeks now, and he had to answer.

Pederson put his full weight behind Wentz and wouldn’t entertain the idea of starting backup Jalen Hurts instead of his star quarterback. He seems confident that Wentz will come out of his funk — a lack of confidence and sureness that has gone on for three weeks — and be the quarterback who earned a four-year, $128 million extension nearly 16 months ago.

Eagles fans, of course, aren’t just impatient, but they want whatever it is that’s different from what they already have. The people who continually called for Super Bowl LII hero Nick Foles to become Philly’s permanent starting QB are now calling for second-round draft pick Hurts to replace Wentz.

Those people will never be happy with Wentz, but Wentz’s play over the first three weeks of the season isn’t helping him. Pederson can defend Wentz until the cows come home, but the only one who can silence the doubters is Wentz himself.

The calls for Doug Pederson to bench Carson Wentz are getting louder, but Pederson won't budge from Wentz as the starter. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
The calls for Doug Pederson to bench Carson Wentz are getting louder, but Pederson won't budge from Wentz as the starter. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Pederson regrets punting for a tie

There isn’t just one reason the Eagles are 0-2-1, there are many, many, many reasons. It’s the offense, it’s the defense, it’s Wentz, it’s injuries, it’s the training staff, it’s the schemes, it’s the play calling, the list could continue on and on. Of all the team’s deficiencies that were on display on Sunday, the play calling was what stuck out most.

Faced with fourth-and-12 in overtime after a penalty moved their field goal attempt back to an unmakeable distance, Pederson acted nothing like the daring head coach who had called the Philly Special at a critical moment in Super Bowl LII. Instead of letting Wentz try to get a first down to extend the drive, Pederson opted to punt with just 19 seconds left in overtime.

It was a baffling decision, especially with almost no time left. There was little to lose. The analytics were firmly on the side of letting Wentz try to air it out for a first down, or even a touchdown. But Pederson instead chose to play it disappointingly safe, a decision he now regrets.

The Eagles seem entirely out of sorts, and Pederson’s decision to punt for a tie is emblematic of that. They need to strip everything back and remember what made them so successful in 2017 and 2018. And if they want a chance at the playoffs in 2020, they better do it quickly, because they’re already running out of time.

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