The way Doug Pederson used Jalen Hurts made no sense.
His explanation made even less sense.
Published reports during the week suggested that the rookie quarterback was getting more first-team reps leading up to the Seahawks game and that he would play a larger role than he has up until this point.
Instead, Hurts got just two snaps, completed his only pass attempt and spent the rest of Monday evening on the bench watching the Eagles' offense sputter against the NFL's worst defense.
In a game where the Eagles had negative-1 yard on their first five drives and managed one touchdown until the game's meaningless final 12 seconds, Pederson gave Hurts only one token pass — a six-yard completion to Alshon Jeffery early in the second quarter — and didn't play him at all in the final 40 minutes of the Eagles' loss to the Seahawks.
Hurts came out for the first snap of the second quarter, which was a Matt Pryor false start. He stayed on the field for a 2nd-and-14, his pass to Jeffery — the Eagles' longest completion to a wide receiver on their first five drives. And he handed off to Miles Sanders a few minutes later.
And that was his night.
You would think with the offense scuffling it would be the perfect time to use Hurts to try and jump-start things.
Of course not, says Doug.
"The plan was to use him when we could," Pederson said. "The way the game started, we just didn't have many opportunities, too many three-and-outs. I don't think we got a first down until the second quarter. We just didn't — we failed to execute. It just wasn't in the cards, I guess, so to speak, early in the football game."
This of course makes zero sense.
If you're going to use Hurts as a change of pace, wouldn't the ideal time to use him be when the offense is struggling?
Pederson's usage of Hurts has seemed random and haphazard, with no concept of where he fits in, no feeling that the Eagles are playing to his strengths and no opportunity for him to get anything going or really make a difference because his playing time and touches are so limited.
Hurts has played only 31 snaps in 11 games and just seven in the last three games. He had a couple of nice runs early in the year — a 14-yarder against the 49ers and a 20-yarder against the Ravens. But he has just three carries in the last four games. And he's now 3-for-3 passing for 33 yards but has never gotten more than one pass attempt in a game.
The Eagles don't seem to have a plan for Hurts, who was the 53rd pick in the draft after throwing 90 touchdowns and rushing for more than 3,000 yards at Alabama and Oklahoma.
Pederson seems to have no clue how to apply his unique skill set to the game plan. This is one of the worst offenses in the NFL — bottom five in every major category — and the Eagles have one of the most dynamic college players of the last decade playing 2.8 snaps per game while their quarterback struggles week after week.
Pederson was asked whether it's difficult for Wentz and Hurts to function consistently when there's no apparent rhyme or reason to when Hurts is in the game.
"Yeah, it is a challenge for quarterbacks to do that," he said. "But from an offensive perspective, if we can have a little change of pace there with Jalen and mix things up, whether we're running it or throwing it ..."
So on the one hand, he's calling Hurts a "little change of pace" to "mix things up" but on the other hand, he insists that when the offense is struggling it's the wrong time to use him.
And by the way, the offense has been struggling since halftime of the season opener.
Even Wentz admitted that it might not be a bad idea for the Eagles to actually use Hurts when the offense is stuck in a rut.
"When we're stagnant like that, as an offense, I'm all ears," he said after the Eagles had been held to 17 offensive points for a fourth straight week. "Whatever Doug is confident in, however we can get some momentum or pick up a first down in that case, early in the game. Obviously, it's a tricky thing to navigate. But I think if it's going to provide us the spark that we need, hopefully, going forward, it can in those situations."
The obvious question is this: If Hurts is a "change-of-pace" and things are going poorly on offense, wouldn't that be the ideal time to use Hurts?
Pederson's answer: "No."
And that was it. No explanation, no reasoning, no logic.
Like so much else during this miserable 2020 season, it just makes no sense.
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