Doug Pederson made the seismic decision to bench his starting quarterback in Green Bay sound so easy, even though it wasn’t.
It couldn’t have been.
Carson Wentz is the face of the franchise. He is being paid mega-millions to win games, except he hasn’t been, and, well Jalen Hurts is here, the surprise second-round draft pick, so the Eagles head coach pulled the plug and inserted Hurts into the game with 7:39 to play in the third quarter.
“I just said Jalen is going in the next series,” said Pederson.
After that, Wentz had no idea what was next.
“I didn’t know what the plan was fully, I was just told he was going in for the next play and the next series, so I didn’t really know what was going on there,” said Wentz.
Pederson said Wentz handled it like a professional, that he helped Hurts on the sideline, and was excited when the Eagles came back within a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter before bowing, 30-16, at Lambeau Field.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating as a competitor,” said Wentz. “Just the personality I have, I want to be the guy out there, but it is what it is. They made the call. At the end of the day, we lost. As a team, we lost, and I think that, for me, that’s what I’m most frustrated about.”
Wentz said getting benched was out of his control.
That’s not exactly right. If he were playing better, he wouldn’t have been removed.
“I’m a competitor,” he said. “When I’m out on that field whether it’s practice or a walk-through or a game, I’m going to leave it all on the field and do everything I can. (Sunday) that’s what I did. I don’t think I played my best, but I did everything I could, and I came out of the game. That’s not my call.”
Wentz quickly dispensed of a question about whether or not taking a set for a game could help clear his head.
“I don’t,” he said. “That’s not in my DNA, it’s not in my competitive nature.”
For his part, Hurts took the opportunity and did the best he could, throwing his first career TD pass.
Hurts was frustrated at the loss, clearly, but he was happy for the touchdown throw to Greg Ward that covered 32 yards.
“It (felt) great,” said Hurts, who spoke to reporters for the first time since the end of July. “On the bright side of things, I’m not going to be Debbie Downer right now. But it was a blessing. It was a great feeling. It’s a great feeling to throw a touchdown pass to one of my good friends in Greg Ward. My first one, so that was fun.”
Hurts’ performance wasn’t good enough to pull out a win, but it did look like it woke the Eagles from their offensive slumber.
“Any experience and any opportunity to touch the field, it only kind of raises the value of that player,” he said. “It’s kind of been that way all year. (Sunday), Coach gave me that opportunity. With all my heart, I had every intention of coming in and getting that done and winning the game, but we came up short.
“That only lights a fire in everybody moving forward. However it looks, the objective in this game is to win. You gotta keep pushing and believing.”
The dynamic between Wentz and Hurts has been difficult to gauge with protocols in place that keep reporters out of locker rooms and away from the team as much as possible, except for Zoom calls.
It’s the same way between the players.
“It’s been a strange year,” said Wentz when asked about his relationship with Hurts. “We have virtual meetings and all sorts of things. Developing relationships with him and everybody has been very tough. Lots of respect for him as a player as a person as a competitor and obviously that relationship will grow over the years.”
Wentz also shot down the gossip that he is bothered by the Eagles for opting to draft a QB in the second round.
“I’m not the type to worry about and look over my shoulder or anything of those things,” he said.
Hurts said his relationship with Wentz is “good,” adding, “I’ve learned a lot of things from him.”
Perhaps the time has come for Wentz to learn a different perspective from the bench, if only for a game.
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