Doug Pederson has made it very clear that he isn’t benching Carson Wentz, so at least for now, you can forget about seeing Jalen Hurts as the Eagles’ starting quarterback.
But we haven’t seen much of Hurts at all.
As the offense struggled to score points in Sunday’s loss to the Browns, Hurts played just one offensive snap. On a play in the second quarter, Hurts was in at quarterback and ran left for a six-yard gain. And that was it.
Is this the type of workload we can expect from Hurts the rest of the way?
“No, I think I could get him in the game a little bit more,” Pederson said on Monday.
I just wouldn’t expect too much. The Eagles seemed to have some big plans for Hurts during his rookie season and at times this year, they’ve found some success with him in games. If the package of plays for Hurts doesn’t appear to be growing. And even if it is, the Eagles aren’t calling them.
Here’s a look at Hurts’ offensive snap numbers and production week by week this season:
Week 2 vs. LAR: 3 snaps, no touches
Week 3 vs. CIN: 3 snaps, 2 rushes for 8 yards
Week 4 at SFO: 4 snaps, 3 rushes for 18 yards
Week 5 at PIT: 2 snaps, 1 pass for 18 yards
Week 6 vs. BAL: 7 snaps, 2 rushes for 23 yards, 1 catch for 3 yards
Week 7: vs. NYG: 5 snaps, 2 rushes for 2 yards
Week 8 vs. DAL: 3 snaps, 1 pass for 9 yards
Week 10 at NYG: 3 snaps, 2 rushes for -1 yards
Week 11 at CLE: 1 snap, 1 rush for 6 yards
So against the Browns on Sunday, Hurts had the fewest snaps of his nine games in the NFL.
And here’s how his 31 snaps break down by position on the field:
Having a player like Hurts is somewhat of a luxury and if you look at the Eagles, nothing about their regular offense has worked. So it might be a big ask to get the backup quarterback on the field. And, to be honest, the Eagles haven’t shown a ton of creativeness with Hurts in the game either.
But even back in Week 2, when he didn’t touch the ball, it was clear that defenses were going to keep an eye on Hurts and there was some opportunity for the Eagles to use that to their advantage. I thought we might see more.
But they haven’t really been able to do that despite saying several times that they want to.
Here’s what Pederson has said about Hurts on several occasions this season:
Sept. 25 after Hurts’ NFL debut: “The things we had in last week for him, he handled well and it's a small drop in the bucket I think to probably getting his career off and running at some point.”
Oct. 5 after the 49ers game: “The last couple of weeks, we've used [QB] Jalen Hurts a little bit more each week and we're still trying to find creative ways that can help us, right, and we were successful a couple of times yesterday.”
Oct. 19 after the Ravens game: “In the case of Jalen, obviously you saw yesterday some of what we call X plays or plays that are sort of unscouted with him have been productive for us in the last three or four weeks. I think it's something that we've got to continue to explore. It does give us the ability to run the football with him, so he's like another -- I don't want to say he's another running back, but he's a quarterback that can run the zone-read plays from the quarterback position.
“It's something that we're definitely going to continue to explore each week, if it's conducive; it has been successful for us, and I could see things continuing each week that way.”
Nov. 2 after the Giants game: “Jalen's doing a nice job. He's prepared during the week and he understands the game plan. I think that you can't do go in and say, hey, learn the offense like Carson knows it right now, but I think you can do some things with him that allow him to be successful if we had to. But he's in a good position. He studies hard during the week with Nate, and he's prepared if called upon.”
Nov. 16 after the second Giants game: “I think early on, we've been very explosive with him. Gosh, I think we were close to 11 or 12 yards per attempt when he was in the game, something like that. I would say here recently, defenses are playing him a little bit differently. They have had chances to scout him. I think it goes back to Jeff's question where, sure, we could probably do a little bit more with him.”
That one question in the last answer that Pederson was referring to was about whether or not the Eagles could call some plays for Hurts on which Wentz actually leaves the field. On all 31 of Hurts’ snaps this season, Wentz has remained on the field either as the QB or lined up wide as a receiver. Sure, that gives the Eagles a chance at a trick play — they tried one once — but for the most part, it leaves Hurts out there down a skill player.
Perhaps the Eagles are trying to protect Wentz’s ego by limiting Hurts’ snaps and not completely taking Wentz off the field in those situations. But then they’re not getting the most out of their second-round pick.
For as much talk as there was before the season about how Hurts could help the offense, the Eagles just haven’t been committed to using him. It seems like the offensive coaching staff doesn’t have a great idea of how to get him involved, especially because of how stagnant the regular offense has been. But it also seems like Hurts might be able to give the offense a boost during some of those times.
Maybe that will start in the last six games. But based on the first 10, it seems unlikely.
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