PHILADELPHIA - The quarterback factory is shuttered, perhaps just the latest business plan abandoned in the relentless path of COVID-19.
Or maybe it's just the realization that playing QB in the NFL with the noted exception of State Farm spokesmen is really difficult and the ultimate team game needs multiple moving parts working in symmetry to produce the desired result.
That’s not happening in Philadelphia right now best exemplified by the fact that a 5-of-12 passing effort during a 30-16 loss in Green Bay can be rightfully described as a “spark” by the head coach.
Jalen Hurts made a few big plays - a 34-yard pass to Jalen Reagor and a 32-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-18 to Greg Ward among them. He also extended plays with his legs, running for 29 yards in addition to his 109 passing.
Hurts’ depth of target (14.1) was tops in the NFL for Week 13 heading into Monday’s action and his 9.1 yards-per-attempt was good for No. 3.
And all of that was spectacular when placed next to the context of Carson Wentz, who doubled down on his struggling with a 6-of-15 effort for 79 yards before getting pulled with just under eight minutes to go into the third quarter.
If you want to extend the comp to the other side of the field, however, and Aaron Rodgers, all of the play from the QB factory students was laughably ineffective.
Books will be written about how the Eagles got here and there are many tentacles reaching out from the collapse of Wentz, everything from injuries and personnel to more intangible things like confidence and psyche.
The final nail was hammered in on April 24 when the Eagles selected Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in the draft just 10 months after the organization signed Wentz to a four-year, $128 million contract extension with $107 million of that guaranteed.
Considering Wentz’s age (27) and the financial commitment it was an unheard-of way of doing business in the NFL, almost a fantasy football - or video-game-like decision absent the human element of any equation in real life.
You can argue forcefully and maybe even correctly that Wentz should just move forward and compete in a meritocracy, use it as fuel just like the 37-year-old Rodgers did when the Packers selected Jordan Love in the first round.
But, Wentz isn’t a Hall of Fame-level signal-caller who treats every aspect of his life like an assassin.
Managing personalities is the biggest part of coaching and Doug Pederson failed if he was truly on board with the Hurts pick back in April as he continues to claim, even more spectacularly than Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman, who never played the position and understand the intangibles it entails.
The pick was bad on so many levels, none of them having to do with Hurts’ acumen on the field.
As an example, Minnesota once begged off signing CFL quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell because he wanted to compete with Kirk Cousins.
“I said, ‘I’m gonna come in here and I’m gonna take Kirk’s job,'” Mitchell claimed when asked about a workout he had with the Vikings. “(The) reply to me was, ‘No, we don’t want you to do that. We want you to come in here and have a good quarterback room, help teach him things, help be a supporter of him, but don’t cause controversy.'”
The last thing any NFL team wants is controversy at the QB position and the Eagles chased after it with a lack of foresight.
The brilliance of Nick Foles as a backup was not only his competency but also his willingness to accept the role and never push for more.
For what it’s worth Wentz still claims he hasn’t been affected by Hurts’ arrival.
“I’m not the type to worry about and look over my shoulder or any of those things,” he claimed.
Pederson has to know better by now because the coach is living through the erosion of his QB1’s confidence in real-time and begged off when questioned about it.
“It’s hard for me to answer that question,” said the coach, “because I’m not in Carson’s shoes.”
Instead of hedging their investment into Wentz, the Eagles should have protected it, not only with better decisions regarding personnel but in more progressive ways like paying more than lip service into things like mental health, a very 2020 and Lurie-like thing to do.
Think of it like buying the best flat screen in the place and the wife ordering you to get the protection plan on top instead of the Black Friday deal to replace it when it fails. Only up that ante because the inanimate object doesn’t know you’re hedging, and Wentz knew it the moment the Eagles handed in the card back in the spring.
“Listen, we’ve had a lot of things this year,” Wentz said. “… I’m not the guy that’s going to point fingers.”
Wentz has got 10 fingers to do so if he wants to point and he’s got plenty of ammunition.
“I know what I’m capable of,” he said. “I know I can play better. I never have doubted myself or lost confidence in my abilities. But, like I said, a lot of these things are outside my control.”
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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