Let’s get one thing out of the way, right off the bat:

We don’t need to see Carson Wentz for the rest of the season. We really don’t. Let Carson clear his head, watch from the bench, and come back next season with a fresh start, clean slate, and perhaps a new coach and/or general manager.

For now, there is only Hurts. Jalen Hurts. That’s the reason why this weekly column is titled “There is No Quarterback Controversy,” because there isn’t. You pulled Wentz and put Hurts in, so give the guy the keys to the car and we’ll see what he has. Even if he goes out and stinks up the joint it’s still better than watching another excruciatingly pitiful Carson Wentz performance. At this point, I’d take a full game of Christian Hackenberg or Ben DiNucci if it meant I didn’t have to watch Wentz again in the year 2020.

It’s really very simple, though the Philadelphia sports media will over-complicate it. They’ll come up with bogus reasons why Carson should be back on the field, or starting the rest of season, because the “offense sucks” or the “line sucks” or “they’re gonna get Hurts killed” or you are going to “ruin” him by playing him right now, or you’re going to forever destroy Wentz’s confidence by benching him. Seriously, that’s all overrated horseshit. Do not lend credence to any of these ridiculous takes that will no doubt permeate the Delaware Valley this week.

The most basic explanation goes like this:

  1. who is the quarterback we need to see more of right now? – Jalen Hurts
  2. who is the quarterback we don’t need to see more of right now? – Carson Wentz

We want to see what the other guy has because this is a fact finding mission. That’s pretty much it. The season is over, the Birds are cooked, so let’s see what the 2nd round draft pick can do. It doesn’t mean Wentz is done forever. He got himself benched because he’s been absolutely awful this season. He still has a big contract and opportunity to right the ship, next year.

For now, we want to learn as much as possible about:

1. Jalen Hurts

Hey, let’s revisit what I wrote in a recent column titled “You Don’t Always Have to Run Jalen Hurts; He Can Throw the Ball, Too.” –

“Jalen Hurts threw for 3,800 yards last year. Yes, he had CeeDee Lamb and Charleston Rambo, and yes, the Big 12 isn’t known for its defense, but the guy is not a scrub. He’s got a good arm and he can make some good throws, especially on the run.”

So what happened when the Eagles finally took off the training wheels and let the guy play his game?

Things like this:

That series ended with an Isaac Seumalo “holding” call and 3rd and 19 coward’s draw, so that was kind of a bummer. Just throw the ball in that situation, Doug. Who the hell cares what happens? At this point we’ll take whatever reps and/or experience we can get.

On the second drive, Hurts scrambled for a first down on 1st and 10, then scrambled for a first down on the very next play. Later, he hit Zach Ertz on a third down to move the sticks, but missed Greg Ward high on a pass that could have moved the sticks again.

But he redeemed himself with this garbage time TD pass on 4th and 18, a really nice step up and shift to his right and toss into the soft spot of zone coverage:

Was Green Bay sitting deep? Yes. Did Hurts still step, slide, and find the hole in the coverage? Yes. More than one thing can be true!

Finally, the third drive, down a score and all of a sudden no longer constituting “garbage time” or featuring “prevent defense.”

The Birds started by running the ball twice, then Hurts threw incomplete for Alshon Jeffery before taking a sack that probably was not his fault. Nate Herbig got pushed back and the pocket collapsed. Then on 3rd and 13, he threw short and incomplete for Zach Ertz, and that was all she wrote. Green Bay ripped off a 77-yard TD run and it was over. Hurts got hit on the final pass of the final drive and threw a pick.

Good stuff, but we won’t get carried away and crown him. If you want to crown Jalen Hurts, then crown his ass, but my position is that I’m cautiously optimistic and would like to see him start for the rest of the season. At this point, we don’t know if Hurts is the guy, but we do know that Wentz is NOT the guy.

2. Running the football, or not

Last year, the Eagles won in Green Bay 34-27 on the strength of a 33 to 27 run/pass ratio. Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders combined for 26 carries for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Sunday, they ran well to start the game, then of course got away from it, because they always do. The Howard and Sanders combo only ran the ball 14 times for 50 yards. Howard had a 4.8 average and Sanders had a 3.1 average but only touched the ball 10 times on the evening and saw 50% of those carries take place on the opening drive. Howard didn’t even touch the ball after Green Bay went up 7-3, so it wasn’t like they were down by a significant margin and needed to throw their way back into the game.

The numbers just don’t make sense. The Eagles came into this game tied for first in the NFL with five yards per carry, yet they were 29th in total attempts. Again on Sunday they just were not willing or not able to establish the ground game.

3. Making a special teams play, finally

Trivia question –

When’s the last time the Eagles made a special teams play?

Yeah, I don’t know either. We had even reached the point where there was some grumbling on Twitter, stuff like “Dave Fipp? What the fuck has he done to keep his job?” When people are unhappy with the special teams coach, you know it’s bad.

But behold, the Eagles’ first punt return touchdown since… I think Darren Sproles in 2015:

Funny thing is that Reagor muffed the punt, but look; if you get the ball in the dude’s hands, in space, he’ll make things happen. The fact that they can’t do it more often is an indictment of the offensive staff.

4. Same play, three weeks in a row

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Eagles defense struggles with lateral misdirection.

Cleveland ran a version of this play five times in their game against the Birds. Seattle ran it a few times last week. And again, straight out of the film session, it’s Aaron Rodgers play action, bootleg left, and they slide the tight end across the formation and into open space, against the flow of traffic:

The Eagles are playing single high safety here. If you look at the blue box I drew, you see Darius Slay tracking Davante Adams across the formation and then four guys starting hard left while the fifth points out the tight end sneaking through the line.

They bite on these types of plays frequently and have trouble recognizing that route to the opposite side of the formation.

5. We want the old screen game back

Remember when the Eagles used to be a great screening team?

Here you’ve got two dudes running right into each other and blowing up the play before it even begins:

Trying to set up a middle screen with Boston Scott but they just got it all wrong. They have been absolutely appalling in the screen game this season.

6. Mistakes and breaks

Let’s take a look.

Mistakes:

  1. Zach Ertz holding on first series
  2. Two guys running into each other on screen play
  3. kickoff return penalty
  4. Isaac Seumalo “holding” to negate a big run
  5. Alshon Jeffery pushing off for OPI
  6. not getting Jalen Hurts in sooner (this game or this season, whatever)
  7. Jake Elliott missed extra point.
  8. Travis Fulgham drop

Honestly, when I look back over this list, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe I was zoning in and out of the game. I’ll admit that I spent two commercial breaks caulking the bay window in my living room.

Breaks:

  1. neutral zone infraction to move the sticks on the third drive
  2. Marquez Valdez-Scantling dropping a very catchable deep pass
  3. Green Bay missed extra point
  4. Packers throttling down into 1st gear during most of the fourth quarter

Green Bay is good. They don’t make a lot of mistakes.

I thought the Eagles probably could have ended up with a defensive pass interference on that 3rd down toss to Boston Scott that went uncalled. Slay was also eating a facemask when Adams went in for his second touchdown. No call on that one either.

7. Ancillary wins and losses

Here’s the damage:

  • lost time of possession 31:39 to 28:21
  • -1 turnover margin
  • 4-13 on third down (30.7%)
  • 1-1 on fourth down
  • held Packers to 5-12 on third down (41.6%)
  • lost 27 yards on seven sacks
  • 0-0 success rate in the red zone
  • 4 penalties for 40 yards
  • 17 first downs, 20 for Green Bay
  • ran 59 total plays, Green Bay 61

Not too bad. They didn’t turn the ball over before the Hurts pick or suffer a lot of self-inflicted wounds, they just got outplayed by a much better team for a large majority of the 2nd quarter leading into the start of the fourth. Rodgers and Adams can simply do things that nobody on the Eagles’ roster can do. It’s somewhat depressing when you come to that realization.

8. Doug’s best call

Did he even call the entirety of the offensive plays? Did he outsource those duties partially, again? Is this segment null and void moving forward? We might have to rename it to “the best offensive play call” or something that actually sounds more interesting than that.

Whomever is responsible, we give them credit for the opening drive. And we give Doug credit for finally making the long overdue decision to bench Carson Wentz.

9. Doug’s worst call

3rd and 19 COWARDLY draw. Part of my soul left my body on that sequence. It was like witnessing the afterlife, but then God comes to you and says “it’s not your time,” and your heart starts beating again, and you unfortunately have to keep watching the Eagles.

They rolled Carson out I think two times that I counted, and guess what!? On one of those sequences Wentz threw a pitiful duck of a football pass but it still went for 41 yards, which was the longest pass he completed all night. The fact that Doug continues to talk about needing to do that, but failing to do it frequently enough, is one of the many failures of this season. It’s like the round peg of incompetence stuffed into the square hole of unwillingness, coupled with over-aggression that is excused with “analytics.” He’s having himself an appalling season, the head football coach.

10. The broadcast

Jim Nantz and Tony Romo with Tracy Wolfson on the sidelines.

I laughed out loud and said ‘thank you’ when Nantz dropped this line on the first drive:

“This is a good running team that just doesn’t run that often.”

Yeah, I mean, thank you. Thank you for saying what needed to be said. I feel like it’s something that broadcasters just don’t talk about a lot, the fact that the Eagles quarterback is struggling immensely and the coach still wants to throw the ball 45 times a game. And listen, Sanders might just be a ‘guy,’ but if he’s just a guy, then give the ball to Howard or go out and get the LeGarrette Blount replacement you failed to get in 2018, 2019, and this season. I’m sick of watching these undersized dudes running around out there. I yearn for the Eagles to have a Derrick Henry type of back at some point in the future.

Romo is really good. I could listen to him do color commentary all day long. And the great thing is that he’s found a groove now where his prescience isn’t overbearing, if that makes sense. He’s still the all-knowing, omnipotent observer who can call out the plays before they happen, but it’s not as “in your face” as it used to be. He’s really settled into a comfort zone and has naturally grown into this broadcasting role.

Somebody else who needs to settle into his comfort zone is Carson Wentz. He need to get comfortable on the bench. And I know not all of this is his fault, and Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson’s jobs should not be safe, but taking off my sports media hat to speak as a fan, I just cannot watch another week of Carson Wentz leading this football team. Leading them to another pathetic loss.

Good morning.