Things have gotten so bad for the Eagles that it didn't even seem dramatic when Carson Wentz got benched.
That's what it's come to.
Jalen Hurts gave the Eagles a little life late, but the bottom line was a fourth straight loss, a gruesome 3-8-1 record and (thankfully) the Giants pulling away in the NFC East.
Here are our 10 instant observations from the Eagles' 30-16 loss to the Packers Sunday at Lambeau Field.
1. Wentz should not play another snap this year.
2. A promising debut from Hurts. Not the easiest circumstances to get your first extended playing time, replacing the starter in the middle of a game at Lambeau against one of the best teams in the NFL without a full week of reps. But he ran around, hit a couple deep balls, looked confident, clearly gave the offense some juice that’s been missing. Came out on his first drive and hit Jalen Reagor for 34 yards — the longest completion to a wide receiver in five weeks. Then converted a 4th-and-18 with a 32-yard TD to Greg Ward. Did things Wentz hasn't been doing. Finished 5 for 12 for 109 yards with a late INT along with 29 rushing yards on five carries.
I don’t know if Wentz will ever be Carson Wentz again and the more I can learn about Hurts the rest of this year the better. This is not where any team wants to be, uncertain about its quarterback. It’s a place that a few months ago I couldn’t have imagined the Eagles being in, but Wentz has had plenty of chances to turn things around, and it hasn’t happened.
Maybe one day we’ll see the Wentz of old. But now? An auspicious start for Hurts and a reason to watch this team play its last four games.
3. Can Hurts save Doug Pederson’s job? It’s an interesting question. Pederson knew that if he didn’t make a change at QB, this team was going down the tubes. It wasn’t going to fix itself. At the very least playing Hurts gives him a chance to show that the team’s pitiful offensive performance wasn’t all his fault.
If Hurts plays at a high level these last four games and the team responds to him like it did Sunday and continues showing some signs of life, knowing Jeff Lurie, he might give Pederson another year. He wants to see hope. He wants a reason not to make a change. Maybe Hurts will give him one.
4. And how about how much better the offensive line looked once Hurts replaced Wentz? All of a sudden the whole offense looked more efficient. Hey, the O-line has not played well this year. But you can’t overstate Wentz’s role in all the sacks. His pocket presence has been atrocious.
Hurts — a guy with virtually no NFL experience — came in and showed more pocket awareness than Wentz has all year. And funny how all of a sudden the receivers were open deep, too. A smart, confident, capable quarterback makes everyone around him look better and play better.
5. The site of Alshon Jeffery cracking up after being called for an offensive pass interference in the fourth quarter is enough to make you sick. This dude is stealing money, he’s taking reps away from the young receivers, he’s giving this team zilch in production, and he’s out there laughing after being called for a penalty during the Eagles’ fourth straight loss? Shameful. Go away.
6. Jordan Howard taking carries away from Miles Sanders is lunacy. Jeffery taking reps away from Travis Fulgham is lunacy. Jason Peters playing ahead of Nate Herbig is lunacy. Nice youth movement the Eagles have going here. Maybe Pederson can convince Darren Sproles to come out of retirement in time for the Saints game. Maybe get Mike Quick some reps. He’s at the games anyway. Anybody seen Norm Snead lately?
7. Sanders’ disappearance from the offense really has been one of the more shocking developments in a season of shocking developments, and it’s inexcusable for Pederson to let it happen. Five of the Eagles’ first 13 plays were Sanders runs and he got five more the rest of the game. We thought Andy Reid didn’t run Brian Westbrook enough when he was getting 13 to 15 carries a game. Sanders would love 13 to 15 carries a game.
It seems like one bad carry and Pederson just gives up on his gifted second-year tailback. If he doesn’t gain six yards on every carry, he’s done. Sanders had five carries on the Eagles’ first drive and five the rest of the game. It’s insanity.
8. Encouraging to see some signs of life from Reagor. His 34-yard catch from Hurts was his longest since opening day and then we saw his speed, athleticism, elusiveness and power on that 73-yard punt return touchdown. It’s been really difficult to evaluate Reagor with the injuries and the terrible quarterback play. I don’t know if he’ll ever be as good as Justin Jefferson. Probably not. But that doesn’t mean he’s a bust. He’s not. I think there's something there.
9. Think about this: In his last four games, Wentz did not complete a pass of 20 yards to a wide receiver. In the first full 1 1/2 quarters of his career, Hurts completed a 32-yarder and a 34-yarder.
10. Very cool to see Aaron Rodgers pull Hurts aside after the game for an extended conversation. Had some encouraging words for Wentz, too. That must have meant so much to a 22-year-old rookie like Hurts. Rodgers is not just a first-ballot Hall of Famer but also a class act.
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