Road to Victory Posted December 7, 2020 Share Posted December 7, 2020 https://www.si.com/nfl/eagles/news/jalen-hurts-ability-to-spark-eagles-should-earn-him-the-start-against-the-saintsJalen Hurts' Ability to Spark Eagles Should Earn him the Start against the Saints Ed Kracz Now what? Carson Wentz or Jalen Hurts? Doug Pederson wouldn’t commit to going back to Wentz after the Eagles head coach decided to bench his starter and insert Hurts midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s 30-16 loss to the Green Bay Packer at Lambeau Field. That might tell you the direction he is already leaning, and it isn’t Wentz. Pederson said he went with Hurts to provide a spark, and there is no question Hurts provided that. He didn’t light up the stat sheet, but he came in cold and probably after weeks and weeks of not getting very many first-team reps. "Listen, you gotta let me get through this game,” said Pederson. "You just heard me say we needed a spark in this game to try to get some things going. I’ve gotta get through injuries. I’ve gotta get through the tape. "There’s a lot of things that I’m going to consider and evaluate before anything is decided. Look, opportunity arose, and like I said, we just needed that opportunity to get us back into the football game, and we came up short.” Will one of those factors be a second straight NFC East title fading deeper into the distance after the New York Giants went to Seattle and sprung a 17-12 upset? Pederson is refusing to concede anything. I think as crazy as it sounds, we have four games left,” he said. "Anything is possible. We just have to continue to work and just fight each week and see what happens in the last month of the season.” That reasoning may be why Pederson turns back to Wentz, because, presumably, despite the struggles of his starter, he still gives them the best chance to win. Or does he? You can question the rookie’s arm strength, his lack of much of an offseason to absorb the nuances of the offense, and whatever else you may think his limitations are, but there can be no denying that Hurts really gave the team a lift when he came in. "Again, I gotta look at the tape and evaluate it,” said Pederson when asked to evaluate Hurts’ performance. "But he did some good things. Used his legs when he had to, made a really nice throw to Greg Ward. Got us back into this football game that we needed. That was the spark we needed to get back into this football game. But I’ll have to really evaluate the film to decide how he played overall.” The final numbers - five completions, 109 passing yards, one TD, one interception, 29 yards rushing - don't tell the whole story. A spark is an intangible, something you have to recognize without numbers to back it up. Here's some help for Doug, because the way I am leaning is that Hurts should start against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. On his third play after entering the game, facing a third-and-four, the rookie QB threw a nifty pass down the left sideline to rookie Jalen Reagor for 34 yards. Wentz had only completed one pass to a receiver in two-and-a-half quarters of work. Last week, just nine of his 25 completions went to receivers. Here was Hurts dialing up completion to a receiver on just his third snap. In the fourth quarter, he found another receiver, Greg Ward, for a 32-yard touchdown. The last receiver to catch a TD was Reagor on Nov. 1. Hurts began that drive by running for two first downs, with one a 10-yard run, the other a 13-yard gallop. On the same drive, he had completions of six yards to Dallas Goedert, 20 yards to Zach Ertz, and 13 to Alshon Jeffery. Then less than two minutes after the Hurts to Ward connection, Reagor took a punt return to the house from 73 yards. That’s a spark. Sometime this week, Pederson will let everyone know who will start Sunday. Whoever it is, the assignment will be difficult. The Saints have a Super Bowl-caliber defense that has allowed only one touchdown in its last 42 times on the field, and that came Sunday in the fourth quarter in a win over the Falcons. It’s a tough task, for sure, something that will require a spark. That is what Hurts showed he is capable of doing, and that is what this team, losers of four straight and sitting at 3-8-1, so desperately needs, not just for a quarter-and-a-half, but from start to finish. 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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