Eagles going with Jalen Hurts over Carson Wentz

Sports

Green Bay Packers’ Kingsley Keke sacks Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Hurts will start for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, sending Carson Wentz to the bench.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson made the announcement Tuesday on the team’s website.

“We’re not where we want to be as an offense,” Pederson said. “I looked at the whole thing and decided that for this week to look for that spark again to try to get the team over the hump, to try to get everybody playing better.”

Pederson insisted Monday the decision was his, even though Wentz’s $128 million, four-year contract begins in 2021. Hurts replaced Wentz in the third quarter of a 30-16 loss to Green Bay and completed 5 of 12 passes for 109 yards, one touchdown, one interception and took three sacks.

“Carson is like all of us right now, he’s disappointed. He’s frustrated,” Pederson said. “He’s been a professional through it all. He supports his teammates and that’s what you want to see from him, the leader of the team. I know sometimes the quarterback gets a lot of the blame like the head coach does. It’s the good with the bad. It’s not about Carson Wentz. It’s not about one person. We know we have issues on offense and it has been a struggle for us all season. That’s where the frustration lies a little bit, but he’s been a pro and would expect nothing less.”

Pederson and Wentz came to Philadelphia in 2016. They led the Eagles to the franchise’s only Super Bowl title in 2017. Wentz was 11-2 before a knee injury forced him to watch Nick Foles lead the Eagles through the playoffs and victory over New England.

Wentz finished third in NFL MVP voting that season, and last year he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards without one wide receiver having 500 yards receiving.

But Wentz has a career-low 72.8 passer rating this season and 19 turnovers, including 15 interceptions. He hasn’t had much help. The injury-depleted offensive line has allowed 53 sacks, and his young, inexperienced receivers often aren’t open.

“Carson’s been a big part of the success that we’ve had,” Pederson said. “He was on that championship team that got us to that level. Even in ’18 and ’19 he led the team and got us into the postseason and I know we can get back to that level. That’s why I have so much confidence in him.”

Hurts was selected in the second round with the 53rd overall pick this year when the Eagles had far more pressing needs. Now the 2019 Heisman Trophy runner-up gets his first opportunity as an NFL starter.

“I just want to see development. I think it’s a great opportunity for him, a great opportunity for the team,” Pederson said.

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