It was ugly, but the Philadelphia Eagles managed to pull out a Sunday-night victory over the shorthanded Dallas Cowboys and their third-string quarterback, Ben DiNucci.
The 2020 seventh-round pick was making his first-ever start — and it just so happened to come in primetime against an Eagles team that should have made Sunday night a cakewalk.
In fact, the seventh-round pick out of James Madison outperformed Eagles starter Carson Wentz despite Philadelphia coming away with the less-than-impressive win to secure their spot atop the NFC East at 3-4-1.
The struggles for Wentz continue as the Eagles’ golden boy put up another clunker of an effort in the 23-9 decision. Not only was he limited to just 123 yards on 15-of-27 passing, but he turned the ball over four times with two interceptions and two fumbles lost.
What was even more concerning is that he had such a difficult outing against the worst defense in the NFL.
It brings his 2020 season numbers to a staggering 18 turnovers (12 interceptions, six lost fumbles).
Wentz’s struggles continue to baffle the Eagles as they’ve yet to get consistent production out of their perceived franchise arm this year.
For head coach Doug Pederson, it’s a lack of continuity around Wentz due to the multitude of injuries that have sapped the roster of its marquee talent.
“I look back to ’17, right? 2017… We go back and we compare to ’17 when he had an MVP type season. I can honestly tell you if there’s a common denominator, we had stability around Carson Wentz,” Pederson told the 94WIP Morning Show on Monday. “We had three receivers, three tight ends, and running backs—we didn’t have the moving parts that we had last year, already in the first part of the season, different offensive line changes. We had stability and as an offense we had continuity. That to me has been probably the biggest difference between then and now. Listen, we’re holding this thing together. Our guys are battling their tails off every Sunday and Sunday night, Monday. We’ve gotta keep it together until we get all of our guys back and that’s coming pretty soon.”
It’s a rag-tag bunch at times, including the likes of Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, and Boston Scott, but the timing couldn’t be better with the Eagles playing in the worst division in football.
But it’s still not an excuse for the number of turnovers he’s posted through the first eight games of the season. His 12 picks lead the NFL while his quarterback rating is at a career-worst.
“He has to do better there,” Pederson said. “He has to protect the football. He knows that. We know that, and that is a frustrating thing. Our success right now has to be protecting the football. Until we get all of our guys back, we can’t just lineup and just dominate, necessarily. You see us kind of go off schedule from time to time and throw in a gadget play, or you see Jalen Hurts in the game, that’s helping us create—in these first eight games—it’s helped up create explosive plays.”
In the same breath, though, he attempted to take some of the heat off Wentz.
“I know a lot of it is pointed at the quarterback because he touches the ball all of the time, but we have to look at the big picture too,” Pederson said. “We have to look at protection, we have to look at routes, are guys open? Is it scheme? Is it on us as coaches? Do I have to call a better play in situations? It’s just a lot of things that go into that, but we know—and I think he knows—that we have got to take better care of the football in order for us to have success.”
Regardless of the blame game, the fact of the matter is that the shouts for the Eagles to bench Wentz are only growing, even in victory, as the rookie Hurts waits in the wings.
A bye week allows Wentz to get a bit of a reprieve, as does a Week 10 meeting against the lowly Giants. The two-week period will be vital for him to figure some things out as the Eagles’ schedule gets much tougher with meetings against the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Arizona Cardinals on tap.