With Eagles playoff hopes dwindling, life as backup begins for Wentz

Carson Wentz Eagles
Carson Wentz will start Sunday on the bench.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Carson Wentz’s life holding the clipboard starts on Sunday, though it remains to be seen how long that will actually last.

Doug Pederson opted to go with Jalen Hurts to start under center Sunday against the New Orleans Saints — throwing the rookie straight into the fire against one of the NFL’s best defenses.

In desperate need of an offensive spark, the Eagles have scored 17 or fewer points in each of the last four weeks, which just so happens to coincide with their four-game losing streak.

Hurts provided that momentary spark when he stepped in for Wentz during the second half of the Eagles’ loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 13. Now he’ll have an opportunity for an extended tryout leading the sputtering offense.

“I’ve been ready to answer the phone,” he said. “It rang. I answered.”

The Eagles have an ultimate security blanket of sorts in Wentz even if he’s having the worst season of his career. After all, this is a former MVP candidate who could step in immediately when called upon — not your average backup.

Considering their season is on the line trailing by 1.5 games in the NFC East with four games to go, one would expect Hurts’ leash to be short.

It’s understandable if Wentz’s confidence has been shaken by the entire process, however. He beat out Nick Foles to be the Eagles’ franchise quarterback only to see the organization draft Hurts a few months ago.

But his teammate, defensive end Brandon Graham — who is no stranger to benchings and down-spells over his 11-year career — attempted to provide some wise words for Wentz.

“First, try not to worry what people are going to say because only you know what’s going on and how you fix it. And how you fix it is really working on the things that you need to get better at and the things that tend to come up all the time,” Graham said. “So for me, it’s I need to get off the ball faster. I need to start doing that for myself. … Continue to keep on working hard. Continue to keep on building at where you’re weak at. You definitely know you can get to where you used to be.

“There’s a lot of confidence that we all still have in Carson. We’ve seen it. We know it’s just on him to go out and keep working like he does. So don’t worry about what the naysayers say. It doesn’t matter because you’re the one who can change what people are saying by how you work. That’s what kept me here, how hard I worked and how hard I tried to flip that negative and turn it into a positive.”

Offensive lineman Jason Kelce, who is one of the men responsible for protecting Wentz — who has been sacked 46 times this season — understood that the decision to start Hurts over Wentz was a team effort, not solely on the quarterback.

“This is not just him. We just have to do something,” Kelce said. “We have to try and spark, make some sort of difference. We can’t just keep doing the same thing and expect it to get better.”

Kick-off on Sunday’s Week 14 action is at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX.

 

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