Lurie on Wentz: ‘Very fixable, and I fully expect him to realize his potential’

The Doug Pederson era in Philadelphia is over. Pederson was fired by the Eagles, the team announced on Monday. Pederson spent five seasons with the Eagles and has been to the postseason three times, including winning a Super Bowl with the team in 2017. 

The 2020 season was a struggle for Pederson and the Eagles. The team finished a disappointing 4-11-1, and reportedly, QB Carson Wentz, who struggled mightily this season, had a bad relationship with Pederson. According to reports, Wentz felt the relationship with Pederson was irreparable. In 12 starts, the 28-year-old Wentz threw 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions(tied for most in the league), had a 72.8 quarterback rating(second-worst among starting quarterbacks), and was sacked a league-high 50 times. Ultimately, Wentz was benched for the final four games of the season in favor of 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts. 

What the Eagles will do at the quarterback position in 2021 should be interesting, and according to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who addressed the media on Monday after the announcement of Pederson’s firing, the decision on the quarterback position in 2021 is up to the new head coach, but Lurie appears to be a fan of Wentz.

“First of all, I don’t think any owner should decide that,” Lurie said. “Carson, to us, to me, and to I think virtually everybody in our organization, is a quarterback that his first four years was in many ways elite and comparable to some of the great quarterbacks’ first four years in the league.

“Fifth year, obviously not satisfactory, for whatever reasons. There are probably multiple reasons for that. The way I look at it is we have an asset, and we have a talent. He’s a great guy, and he wants nothing but to win big and win Lombardi Trophies for Philadelphia. This guy is tireless. He has his heart in the right place, and he’s really dedicated off-season, on-season – he’s just what you want. It behooves us as a team with a new coach, a new coaching staff, to be able to really get him back to that elite progression where he was capable of, and at the same time, understand that there have been many quarterbacks in their fourth and fifth year … if you trace this, you can come up with many, many quarterbacks that have a single year where it’s just, whoa, the touchdown-to-interception ratio is not what you want. And we’re talking some great ones, like Peyton [Manning] and Ben [Roethlisberger] and guys like that.

“So I take sort of a more, probably a longer view of this was not the best season for our offense, it was a poor season, and we also had a poor season from Carson in terms of what he’s been able to show in the past. Very fixable, and I fully expect him to realize his potential.”

Based on Wentz’s performance, it appeared that having Hurts around was a distraction to the fifth-year quarterback, so the new coach and organization has to figure out how to fix that situation.

As for Pederson, he will get another job. He’s had a lot of success in Philadelphia and has proven to be a very good coach in the NFL, but at this point, it was not good enough for the Eagles going forward. 

 

Eagles’ Roseman: ‘I certainly regret that comment about quarterback factory’

The Philadelphia Eagles ended a disappointing 2020 season by losing to the Washington Football Team 20-14 on Sunday night. With the loss, the Eagles finished the season at 4-11-1. 

You could argue the season went bad back in April when the team drafted QB Jalen Hurts in the second round. After the selection, Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman said the following:

“For better or worse, we are quarterback developers. We want to be a quarterback factory. We have the right people in place to do that. No team in the National Football League has benefitted more from developing quarterbacks than the Philadelphia Eagles.”

On Monday, Roseman talked about those comments. According to Roseman, he now has regrets.

“Of some of the things that I’ve done this season, I certainly regret that comment about quarterback factory,” Roseman said. “Really it was just in terms of how — the importance of the position around the league, the importance of the position to this organization, and really a reflection of our experiences with backup quarterbacks when we did that.”

In 2019, the Eagles signed Carson Wentz to a four-year, $128 million contract extension, so it seemed odd that Philadelphia would draft a quarterback the following season. You could argue that Wentz was bothered by the selection of Hurts, and it showed on the field this season. The fifth-year quarterback had his worst year as a pro. In 12 starts, the 28-year-old Wentz threw 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions(tied for most in the league), 72.8 quarterback rating(second-worst among starting quarterbacks), and sacked a league-high 50 times. All is not on Wentz, but he was not very good in 2020.

When asked if he regrets drafting Hurts, Roseman said the following:

“I think certainly when you talk about Jalen and his talent and his work ethic; it’s all the things that we saw in college in terms of the big picture and how we are building this team, you even see it last night,” he said. “Two teams are playing for a playoff berth with their backup quarterbacks. As we go towards 17 games, depth is important in this league, and I think that’s an important position that you’re trying to find depth and certainly a guy that we liked as a player.”

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Wentz has a poor relationship with Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and wants out of Philadelphia. However, according to Pederson, his relationship with Wentz is solid.

“Listen, I’m not going to speak for Carson, obviously, but I can speak for myself and say that, yeah, the relationship is good. It’s fine,” Pederson said. “It’s something that we’re going to continue to build upon, and listen; I know Carson’s disappointed. It’s not the season that he had anticipated. It’s not the season I had anticipated as the head coach. There were a lot of moving parts. It’s not about one guy here. It takes all of us, and that’s something that we’ve stressed a lot here.”

Hurts showed flashes during his four starts, but he did not blow anybody away. If I’m the Eagles, I try to work things out with Wentz. Outside of 2020, he has played at a high level. Other than this season and his rookie year, Wentz has not thrown more than seven interceptions in a season, so you could argue what happened in 2020 was an aberration. Based on how his contract is structured and barring a trade, Philadelphia could be stuck with Wentz until after the 2021 season, when they will be able to get out of the deal without a significant cap hit. 

However, you don’t draft a quarterback in the second round for no reason, so what happens next should be interesting.

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘I think Carson Wentz can be an exceptional quarterback in this league, and he’s proven that’

On Tuesday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson made it official and named rookie QB Jalen Hurts the team’s starting quarterback for their home game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The second-round pick replaced an ineffective Wentz against the Packers last Sunday.

It’s been a very disappointing 2020 season for Wentz, as he leads the league in interceptions(15). But just last season, the fifth-year quarterback was playing at an elite level when he led the Eagles, who had numerous injuries on the offensive side of the ball, to the playoffs. In 2017, before he went down with a torn ACL, Wentz played at an MVP level and threw 33 touchdowns with only seven interceptions in 13 games.  Ultimately. the Eagles would get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which helped Nick Foles and Philadelphia get to and win the Super Bowl. 

According to Pederson, Wentz has been and still can be an elite quarterback in the NFL.

“I think Carson Wentz can be an exceptional quarterback in this league, and he’s proven that, right? Back in ’17, ’18 and last year,” Pederson said on Wednesday. “We got to continue to battle and fight and work and work with him individually, work with him within the confines of the offense, the structure, and just get [him] back to being Carson Wentz and back on track. So, that’s my focus with him, to just get him back to the level of play that we all know that he has shown us and that he is capable of doing.”

If we look a the numbers, you could argue that Pederson is right. Outside of his rookie season, when Wentz threw 14 interceptions, Wentz has thrown no more than seven interceptions in a season, so in reality, what happened to Wentz in 2020, seems to go contrary to who and what he has been as a quarterback in the NFL. 

However, Pederson and the Eagles had to make the switch. The 27-year-old Wentz was not playing well, and it did not appear he would get right anytime soon. It should be interesting to see what happens moving forward if Hurts plays well in the next four games, especially when you consider Wentz signed a four-year, $128 million deal with the team in 2019. Based on how his contract is structured and barring a trade, Philadelphia could be stuck with Wentz until after the 2021 season, when they will be able to get out of the deal without a significant cap hit. 

We’ll see how this situation plays out. However, it’s time for the Eagles to see if they can succeed with Hurts in 2020.

Eagles’ Pederson on Jalen Hurts: ‘He played okay’

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz continued to his season-long struggles on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson finally had enough. Pederson pulled the fifth-year quarterback in the third quarter and handed over the game to rookie QB Jalen Hurts. Wentz finished the game 6/15 for 79 yards.

It was a mixed result for Hurts. Did Hurts give the team a spark? Yes. He led Philadelphia on a scoring drive, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to Greg Ward. However, the second-round did complete less than 50% of passes and threw an interception. Hurts finished the game 5/12 for 109 yards with a touchdown and an interception. 

When asked how he felt Hurts played against the Packers, Pederson said:

“He played okay.”

When asked to elaborate, Pederson said the following:

“Yeah, I thought it was the spark that I was hoping for when I made the change. He came in and did some things. One of the things is that obviously he extended some plays with his legs. Made a nice throw to [WR] Jalen Reagor. Was good to see that. And then obviously the throw to [WR] Greg Ward for the touchdown on a scramble. But there are some things that if and when he looks at the film, that we can clean up and he can improve upon.

“But I thought it was the spark that got us back in the football game.”

At this point, Pederson has not made a decision on who will start next week against the Saints, and while Hurts played okay on Sunday, he did not blow anybody away with his performance. Maybe Pederson will treat this situation how Andy Reid handled Donovan McNabb in 2008 when he sat McNabb in the second half against the Ravens. Ironically enough, McNabb was replaced by another second-round pick, Kevin Kolb. McNabb would start the following week and ultimately lead the Eagles to the NFC championship game.

Who knows what Pederson will decide at this point, but the Eagles’ offense needs a spark, and maybe Hurts is the guy to do it.

Eagles’ Graham: ‘We know the offense is going to get it right’

It has been a struggle for Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles(3-7-1) in 2020, and on Monday night against the Seahawks, the struggles continued. The fifth-year quarterback was 25/45 for 215 yards, two touchdowns, and a costly interception in the red zone late in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Philly would fall to the Seahawks(8-3) 23-17 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Wentz has a lot of bad attached to his name this season. He has thrown the most interceptions(15)in the NFL, he is the most sacked(46) quarterback in the league, and he leads the league in off-target incompletions(95). You add that all together, and you could argue that Wentz is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in football right now. With Wentz’s poor play, the talk has been about the possibility of rookie QB Jalen Hurts getting more time on the field or even possibly starting for Philadelphia. However, according to Wentz, he’s not concerned about losing his job. 

“As a quarterback – ever since you were a kid – you’re prepared for any of those. Nothing is ever guaranteed.,” Wentz said after the game. “So, for me, I don’t think about that, though. I just try to go out and be the best player I can be. In practice, I prepare my tail off, compete my tail off, and hopefully, we can get this thing turned around. I don’t think about those things. I’m going to give it everything I got every time I step on the field.”

While the Eagles’ offense struggled against Seattle, Philly’s defense came to play. They got consistent pressure on Russell Wilson and held Seattle, who third in points per game(31.0) to 23 points. Although the offense has sputtered, Eagles DE Brandon Graham believes things will get better on that side of the ball.

“We just have to figure out a way to keep on encouraging each other,” Graham said after the game. “Keep fighting. Make sure we stay consistent on defense. We know the offense is going to get it right. I just saw [Eagles QB] Carson [Wentz]. It means something to all of us. Obviously, things haven’t been happening the way we want it to, but at the same time, there is no quit in us, and we have five games left.”

Right now, the Eagles are a bad football team, but they play in the NFC East, so at 3-7-1 after 11 games, Philly is 0.5 game behind the first-place Giants(4-7), so if they can find a way to turn it around, they could win the division, which Wentz discussed.

“We’re frustrated, we’re frustrated,” Wentz said. “I know I’m frustrated. I hate losing, and it’s very frustrating to have this result these last couple weeks and be where we’re at this season. But the crazy thing about this league and this division, especially, is it’s still wide open, and guys know that. Guys know that, and we’re looking ahead to next week and getting this thing turned around, getting it going in the right direction and, hopefully, surprise some people.”

Philly does have a chance in the NFC East, but it does not matter if they can’t win games, so for that to happen, Wentz has to be better, and that starts against the Packers at Lambeau on Sunday. If Wentz does not improve, the Eagles might not win another game in 2020. it’s that simple. 

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘We’re still leading the division, so we have a lot to play for right now’

It has been a struggle for Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles this season. After ten games, the Eagles are 3-6-1, and Wentz has thrown a league-high 14 interceptions. However, fortunately for Philadelphia, they play in the NFC East. Therefore, with only three wins as they enter their Week 12 showdown against Seattle, the Eagles are in first place in the division. At this point, every team in the division has three wins, so anything can happen.

“Right now, we’re still in the hunt, we’re still leading the division,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. “So, we have a lot to play for right now.”

After another subpar performance out of Carson Wentz, that included two interceptions, many feel it could be time for the Eagles to turn to rookie QB Jalen Hurts. Philly’s offense has struggled mightily and is 2-21 on third down conversions in the last two games. However, Pederson, who is sticking with Wentz, thinks the whole team needs to play better.

“We still have a lot to play for. We have a lot to fix. It’s not — in this city, the quarterback and the head coach, it’s all about the QB and the head coach,” Pederson said. “Everybody else can almost go by the wayside, I guess. So it’s almost like a two-man band. But there is enough work to be done, as I’ve mentioned, by all positions. Receivers can play better. O-line can play better..

“It was just another one of those days. Running backs, we need to hang on to the football. Quarterback needs to play better. Defensively, we have got to get off the field on third down. Got to be able to tackle better. Same way on special teams. Got to be able to tackle in space. There is enough to go around that none of it is excusable. We all hold each other accountable, coaches, and players. That’s why I keep saying that we have a lot to play for. There is a lot of pride here. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Wentz gives the Eagles the best chance to win, and while he has not played well this season, the Eagles are still in the mix, but the next four games will be brutal. After Seattle, they have @Packers, Saints, @Cardinals. Philadelphia could easily go 0-4 in those games, and even if they go 0-4, the Eagles could still be in the mix because the Giants, Cowboys, and Redskins are not good, so who wins the NFC East is anybody’s guess.

Eagles’ Pederson on playing Cowboys: ‘It’s always a great week”

If you’re an Eagles fan, there are two games that you want to win more than any other, and that’s against the hated Dallas Cowboys, who the Eagles will battle this Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. 

However, this week’s game is a little more significant. While both teams are struggling, there is still a division to be won, and at this point, the Eagles(2-4-1), who hold the top spot in the NFC East, are 1/2 game up on the Cowboys(2-5). If Dallas wins, they reclaim first place in the NFC East, but a win for Philadelphia would increase their lead over Dallas.

It’s Dallas week, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson knows how that feels as a player and coach. On Wednesday, Pederson discussed playing the Cowboys.

“Yeah, you know I do. It’s always a great week,” Pederson said. “It’s an exciting week anytime you play any of our division opponents, division rivals. This is no different. We’re on Sunday Night Football, and we’re excited again to be in the national spotlight to be in another home game. Feeding off hopefully a little bit of momentum from last Thursday, but it’s something that you look at both teams, and maybe there’s not the same lust or excitement from the game.

“Maybe the two teams are struggling or whatever it is — but listen, it’s always the Dallas Cowboys. I remember back in ’99 when I played here, and I can think of the fans are always like, hey there’s two games every year that you really got to win, and it’s the two Dallas game. That’s a part of the excitement this week. The guys are excited. I know Dallas will be excited coming up here. Looking forward to playing.”

This is a very winnable game for the Eagles, but so was last against the Giants, and the Eagles needed a big-time fourth quarter out of Carson Wentz to get the victory. The Cowboys will be without injured QB Andy Dalton, and in his place is Ben DiNucci, who was a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft and will be making his first career start on Sunday. Furthermore, the Cowboys don’t play defense and are 27th in total defense, and are allowing almost 35(34.7) points per game, so the Eagles have a great chance here. However, it’s a rivalry game, which means anything can happen.

Pederson on Wentz: ‘It’s good to see your quarterback being able to put the team on his back and lead a comeback’

With the Eagles’ season on the line, quarterback Carson Wentz was at his best. Down 11 in the 4th quarter, Wentz led the Eagles(2-4-1) on two scoring drives, and ultimately, Philadelphia would defeat the Giants 22-21 at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday Night Football.

Wentz, who almost pulled off a similar comeback last Sunday against Baltimore, finished the game 25/43 for 341 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The fifth-year quarterback put the Eagles on his back and got the victory.

“There wasn’t a lot of time, but we said there was enough time,” Wentz said after the game. “There’s enough time; we just have to keep believing and just take it one play at a time. Obviously, we were in turbo, on-the-ball, two-minute mode the rest of the game. [But it was] the same thing that I echo every game when we’re down, ‘Just keep believing, just one play at a time and big play is going to hit. It’s going to happen.’ [Eagles WR] John [Hightower] had the big one that first drive and obviously [Eagles RB] Boston [Scott] on the second drive. Guys just keep believing and keep rallying together, and that’s what it’s going to take to win a lot of these ball games.” 

According to NBC Philly’s John Clark, Wentz has thrown for 214 yards with five total touchdowns and a 118.2 passer rating in the fourth quarter of the past two games, and according to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, it’s good to see Wentz carrying the team.

“Quite honestly, it’s good to see your quarterback being able to put the team on his back and lead a comeback like he did in this game,” Pederson said on Friday. “Obviously, the Baltimore game is another one where we made the comeback and put ourselves in a position to tie that football game. That part is good to see.

“We want to try to at least minimize being down two scores late in the fourth quarter and have to come back every week. Those are hard to overcome. That’s one of the things you love about Carson, he’s constantly fighting with his guys and battling with his guys out there. He wants the ball in his hands at the end of the game.

“The other thing is when we’re down two scores like that, you go right into your two-minute offense. You saw the play to [WR John] Hightower, you saw the play to [TE] Richard Rodgers. The Richard play was a scramble, big play in the game. That’s who Carson is, a constant competitor and wants to win.”

Now, it’s time for Philadelphia to build on this win. While Wentz has to do a better job of protecting the football, he is carrying the Eagles, and hopefully, for Philadelphia, he can carry them to an NFC East title.

Eagles’ Wentz on Fulgham: ‘He’s a baller’

On Sunday, at Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Eagles(1-4-1) started slow on offense against the Baltimore Ravens, but the offense finally came alive in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia would score 22 points in the quarter, and quarterback Carson Wentz would throw two touchdowns and run for another. However, with a chance to tie the game, Wentz and the Eagles failed on the two-point conversion, and Philadelphia would lose to Baltimore(5-1) 30-28.

Another player that came alive for the Eagles in the fourth quarter was WR Travis Fulgham. The second-year receiver had three catches for 38 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Also, Fulgham forced a pass interference call on Marcus Peters that ultimately set up the Eagles final touchdown. Fulgham led the Eagles with six receptions for 75 yards on Sunday.

“He’s a baller,” Wentz said about Fulgham after the game. “I said last week, I see it in practice. It’s good to just see these guys get their chance and make plays.”

Fulgham had his first 100-yard receiving game of his career last week against the Steelers and is establishing himself as Wentz’s go-to guy. In three games, Fulgham has 18 receptions for 284 yards and three receiving touchdowns. 

“It means a lot that [Eagles QB] Carson [Wentz] trusts me now, and we continue to build on it,” Fulgham said. “I just wish I could’ve made more plays for the team, and we just need to do more to get the win.”

Wentz trusted Fulgham in the fourth quarter as he threw the ball up for grabs in the end zone on 4th & 9, and Fulgham went up and grabbed the ball out the air for the touchdown. After the game, Fulgham discussed what happened on the play.

“Wentz made a check at the line,” he said. “It was a great check. And he placed the ball at the right spot, floated it up, and let me get a chance to go up and get it.”

The Eagles are struggling right now, and injuries are a big reason for those struggles. Still, the good thing that has come from the injuries is young guys are getting an opportunity to play, and Fulgham is taking advantage of this opportunity.

 

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘We’re not a very good football team’

It’s still early in the 2020 NFL season, but yesterday was a low moment for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sunday’s home game against the Bengals was an opportunity for the Eagles to get right, but due to turnovers, penalties, and overall lousy play, Philadelphia had to settle for a tie against Cincinnati.

On Monday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson stated the obvious about the 0-2-1 Eagles; they are just not very good right now.

“Well, the glaring thing for me as the coach is we’re not winning the turnover ratio,” Pederson said via a video call. “We’re obviously giving the ball away more than we’re taking it away. The penalties yesterday were way too many, 11 penalties yesterday for almost 100 yards. I thought we ran the ball effectively for the amount of times that we ran it. [RB] Miles [Sanders] did a nice job there in the backs. And quite frankly, we have to find ways now to utilize the guys we have as we talked about earlier, creative ways to get these guys open, and whether we do that by formations, we do that by motions.

“We have to continue to coach our young players. We have to get them ready to go, and they’re the ones that are going to be playing on the perimeter for us. So, right now we’re not a very good football team, as I said after the game, we’re not very smart. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. We’re leaving touchdowns on the field offensively, and we’re just not executing. And those are things that we’re going to really look hard at this week, and if we have to simplify, we’ll simplify. If we have to go up-tempo, we’ll go up-tempo, things that have been successful in the past.”

One player who has to step up for the Eagles to turn things around is Carson Wentz. In three games, Wentz is tied with Kirk Cousins for the most interceptions(6) in football. Additionally, Wentz has struggled with his accuracy, and he missed a wide open Miles Sanders late in the game against the Bengals.

In fairness to Wentz, his offensive line has been inconsistent, and he has lost some of his weapons to injuries, but again, he has to play better, which Wentz believes will happen for him and the Eagles’ offense.

“Obviously, I just have to be better [and] handle some of these,” Wentz said after the game on Sunday. “Some of them are communication, just making sure we’re on the same page with everybody, and some are just poor throws. I have to be better, and I will. We’re still meshing and gelling as a team and building the chemistry. [There were] a lot of moving pieces today, not as an excuse, but guys will continue to get this experience and learn from it. We’ll all be better, including myself.”

Can the Eagles turn it around? Maybe, but the next three weeks will be very tough. Philadelphia has to travel to San Francisco on Sunday, go to Pittsburgh the following week, and host the Ravens after that. If Philly does not play better, they could easily be winless after the first six games. So, the time is now for Philadelphia to get things right.

e