The Jalen Hurts train is rolling into Week 16 as Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson announced on Monday that the rookie quarterback will get a third-straight start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
It wasn’t even a tough decision, either, as Carson Wentz continues to hold the clipboard and make headlines with his dissatisfaction.
“Obviously, I’m going to continue to have Jalen [Hurts] start this week. I’m focused on only this week,” Pederson said. “Obviously, I want to see how our team and he responds after a tough loss yesterday, so Jalen will be the starter this week.”
Hurts continued to impress in his second-career start on Sunday evening against the Arizona Cardinals — even if the Eagles fell short, 33-26 to drop to 4-9-1 on the season.
After an improbable win against the New Orleans Saints in Week 14, Hurts put up gaudy numbers against a Cardinals defense that had stifled the New York Giants just a week earlier, holding them to just seven points.
Hurts went off for 338 yards and three passing touchdowns along with 63 rushing yards and another score. That’s 406 total yards, four touchdowns, and no turnovers if you’re keeping score at home. He became just the second rookie quarterback since 1970 to post more than 400 total yards with four total touchdowns and no interceptions.
He’s provided life to an Eagles offense that was lifeless for a majority of the season under Wentz, who was trudging through by far the worst season of his career.
Despite not playing for two games, Wentz still leads the league with 15 interceptions while posting career-lows in completion percentage and quarterback rating. The Eagles’ offensive numbers reflect accordingly as they scored 17 or fewer points in his final four starts leading up to the Week 12 benching during the third quarter of a 30-16 loss against the Green Bay Packers.
The decision to start Hurts has certainly had an adverse effect on Wentz. Reports from Sunday noted that the fifth-year passer “has no interest” in being the Eagles’ backup moving forward, which would mean a trade away from Philadelphia this offseason if the team continues going to Hurts.
Week 16 is as big a game as ever for the Eagles to keep their slim postseason hopes alive. After the Cowboys defeated the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, they hopped over the Eagles. Dallas and the Giants are at 5-9, one game behind the Washington Football Club, while Philadelphia is in last-place.
If Washington wins one of its last two games, the Eagles will be eliminated from postseason contention regardless of what Hurts can do on Sunday and beyond.