Is the Future Hurts'?
Last night, after weeks of frustration and poor play, Carson Wentz was finally benched by Doug Pederson. Jalen Hurts came onto the field near the end of the third quarter, and Wentz did not see the field again. It is hard to argue against the benching considering Wentz's play has been beyond wretched this year. However, the big question now is where does this leave Hurts?
After last nights game and during today's radio interview Pederson remained very closed on what he was going to do with the starting quarterback role the rest of the season. The fact he did not openly support Wentz like he had done every week of this season to date should be enough to let you know that change is coming. Hurts did light spark in the team following a couple of nice throws and some big runs, and his first-ever NFL touchdown pass was a lovely throw to Greg Ward on a 4th & 18.
All the hype and talk after the game was who would be the starter down the stretch, and it makes sense for Hurts to be that man the rest of the way. For Pederson, it is the last-ditch attempt to save his job, and show that he is still the coach to lead the team forward. For Howie Roseman, it is an opportunity to show everyone the pick was worthwhile, and for the team, it makes them more intriguing to watch. It is looking unlikely that they make the playoffs considering they still have to face the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals. The logical thing to do would be to see what you have in Hurts down the stretch. Putting Wentz back in will do this team no good, and it will help him to take a step back and take a look from the outside watching in. However, next season is where this new, yet expected quarterback controversy gets interesting. What exactly will happen to Wentz or Hurts? It is all dependent on who the General Manager and Head Coach are.
HOWIE AND DOUG BOTH STAY
If Jeff Lurie believes that Pederson and Roseman deserve another crack and gives COVID-19 as the reason for the team's failures, it will likely see Wentz moved on and Hurts the starting man. People can argue about the salary cap situation, but Lurie was happy to trade away Sam Bradford for a big cap hit in 2016. He has shown no fear in moving the starting quarterback even if he is not the right guy.
Wentz staying with the pair still around does not make sense, and a breakup will do all parties involved a favour. Wentz and Pederson's working relationship has broken down this season as the 27-year-old's performances continued to regress. He is shot of all confidence, and his trust in the players and coaching is also clearly not there. In regards to Roseman, he has done the quarterback no favours the past eight months, and their relationship could be too broken down to work moving forward.
Having the opportunity to see what they have in Hurts down the stretch, it will give Pederson and Roseman the chance to assess what the team needs to do to help him this offseason and in the draft, and how to shape the offense ahead of next season.
HOWIE STAYS AND DOUG GOES
This is where this controversy gets interesting. If Roseman was to stay, whilst Doug lost his job, then there are a few possibilities that could happen with this debacle.
The first one, which may be the likely one, is that they give Wentz a second opportunity with a new offensive regime to see whether these 12 games have been a fluke. If Wentz rediscovers his old form, then this will remain his team moving into 2022. If Wentz's struggles cross into next year, and he has a bad first half of the season, then it will likely be Hurts' time to shine. Hurts would have a larger sample size to play in, and it would allow the new coaching staff to see whether they have their guy of the future. If Hurts plays well, then they have their guy, and they move Wentz on. If Hurts then also struggles, that opens up an intriguing new avenue. It could be one that sees the Eagles move both quarterbacks on, and allows the new coaching regime the opportunity to get their guy in the 2022 draft.
The second option is that both quarterbacks stick around, and we have ourselves a good old quarterback competition in training camp and pre-season. Then the guy that is starter moves on with the team into 2021.
A third option, which is a very unlikely one, is that Howie has pulled the wool over all of our eyes and moves on Hurts for draft capital in 2021. There will be teams in need of a younger quarterback next season, and if Hurts puts in an impressive four-game stretch to end the season, then his stock could quickly rise and get teams interested to take his small contract moving on. This team is in cap hell and is going to rely on draft picks and UDFA to fill the roster next season. Acquiring multiple draft picks in a trade for Hurts helps the cap situation considering this will be a very different looking roster next season. Again, this situation is incredibly unlikely to happen.
HOWIE GOES AND DOUG STAYS
As mentioned earlier in the piece, if Doug stays, it is hard to see Wentz remaining the starter or with the team. Unless there are drastic changes to the coaching staff surrounding Pederson, his and Wentz's relationship does not look like one that can be fixed quickly. It is evident there is a lack of trust between Wentz, the system and coaching staff. When there is a standstill between a player and the coaches, it is always the player that loses. If Pederson stays, it would not surprise me to see the Eagles actively look to trade Wentz, even with a new front office.
HOWIE AND DOUG BOTH GO
It is a scenario that plenty of Eagles fans are hoping will happen and that there is a complete rebuild of the organisation from the top down. Again, seeing both Roseman and Pederson losing their jobs opens up some interesting scenarios.
The first one is a scenario that was mentioned already, and they give Wentz a final opportunity to prove he is the franchise quarterback. If he continues to play woefully, they put the reins in Hurts' hands, and if he plays well, it will allow him to prove that this is his team moving forward. If he does that, it is also easier to trade Wentz and his contract away in 2022 too. If both quarterbacks struggle, and the team has a similar record to this year, then it becomes easier for the front office and new coaching regime to move both on and get their own guy for 2022.
Another scenario that could arise; is that one of the quarterbacks is traded before the draft to avoid any more quarterback controversies moving forward. This current situation is one that cannot allow the team to move forward and succeed. Any General Manager with a brain can tell that having this looming over the organisation every week does not help anyone. Whether they want to stick with Hurts or Wentz, having both around creates an untenable situation. Moving one on will allow the team to solely focus on the quarterback that they want to stick with moving forwards.
The third situation could end with neither Hurts nor Wentz on the team. It would instead see the Eagles drafting a quarterback in the first round. It could be a complete reset like we saw in 2016 with the drafting of Wentz and Roseman trading and wiping away the mess Chip Kelly made. A new General Manager with a new coaching staff may take the same approach. They could take it upon themselves to trade away and release plenty of the Eagles' highest earners to help the salary cap situation, and acquire more draft picks to help them get the roster younger and cheaper. On top of that, it is not like the Eagles need to trade the house to go and get a quarterback. They currently hold the sixth pick, and the Cincinnati Bengal and LA Chargers do not need quarterbacks. Barring a disaster in their contract talks with Dak Prescott the Cowboys won't need to either. The Eagles could see Justin Fields or Trey Lance fall directly to them, and it could be an opportunity that a new General Manager does not want to lose out on taking advantage of.