Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz might be 2020’s biggest NFL disappointment. Widely considered a top 10-15 entering the season, the former second-overall pick has not played to his potential. Can head coach Doug Pederson fix him, or should the Eagles turn to rookie second-round pick Jalen Hurts?
Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Controversy: Carson Wentz or Jalen Hurts?
Looking at numbers and film, Carson Wentz has been one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league. Advanced metrics tend to be the most predictive, and Wentz is at or near the bottom of just about every meaningful statistic. Among qualified passers, Wentz ranks 29th in DAKOTA, 29th in EPA/play, 29th in CPOE, and 27th in ESPN’s QBR metric. Pro Football Focus backs this up, as Wentz is the QB30 in their filmed-based grading system.
Of course, one could blame Wentz’ supporting cast for the underwhelming production. At various points of the season, the Eagles lost Jalen Reagor, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and Miles Sanders to injury, just to name a few. On top of that, the offensive line has battled injury after injury, turning one of the better pass protection units into a below-average squad.
While these units aren’t making Wentz’ life any easier, it’s not an excuse for the abhorrent production. Wentz has had Goedert, Reagor, and Jeffery back for the past few weeks, and Travis Fulgham turned out to be a pretty solid player. This is a decent supporting cast, and Wentz still isn’t able to produce with league-average weapons. Quite frankly, if Wentz can’t make it work with this cast, then he shouldn’t be making $32 million a year.
What to Do
Even if Wentz never recaptures his 2017 form, he still proved to be a solid quarterback over the first four years of his career. If the Eagles were completely out of the playoff picture, Philadelphia would probably be best served by sticking with Wentz and seeing if he can overcome his stretch of bad play.
Unfortunately for Wentz, Philadelphia’s season is alive and well. Despite the terrible 3-7-1 record, the Eagles sit just 0.5 games out of first place. The New York Giants just lost Daniel Jones, and the Washington Football Team is starting Alex Smith. Both of the aforementioned teams have poor rosters, and the Eagles could easily overtake the division if they received league-average quarterback play. Right now, there is no reason to believe that Wentz can give league-average quarterback play.
As hard as it is to say, it’s time to turn the keys over to Jalen Hurts, at least in the short term. Hurts, a second-round rookie, isn’t the most developed passer but possesses fantastic athleticism and can make plays every time he touches the ball. The NFL has adapted to support these types of quarterbacks over the past few years, so it stands to reason that Hurts could succeed, at least in the short term.
Thanks to the financial implications of this contract, it’s impossible for the Eagles to move on from Wentz in 2021. However, sunk-cost fallacy isn’t a good reason to hold back a roster. What’s done is done, and Hurts gives Philadelphia the best chance to win. Let the rookie finish out the season, and let the two quarterbacks spend the offseason battling for the starting job.
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