We don’t know whether Carson Wentz is willing to compete with Jalen Hurts to be the Eagles’ 2021 starting quarterback, but we do know Hurts’ stance, because he was asked about it Monday.
“I’m a competitor. I control what I can, put my best foot forward in any situation I’m in,” Hurts said, as the Eagles packed up and said their end-of-season goodbyes at NovaCare. “Try to be the best quarterback I can be.”
Hurts, the second-round rookie who started the Eagles’ final four games, finished with 77 completions on 148 attempts (52%) for 1,061 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 77.5, and he averaged 7.2 yards per pass attempt. Wentz , who last played Dec. 6, when he was yanked in favor of Hurts in a loss at Green Bay, finished with 251 completions in 437 attempts (57.4%) for 2,620 yards and 16 touchdowns, with a career-high 15 interceptions. His passer rating was a career-low 72.8, and he averaged a meager 6.0 yards per attempt.
Wentz declined to speak to reporters Monday in the wake of an ESPN report that said he will seek a trade this offseason because of a relationship with Eagles coach Doug Pederson that is damaged beyond repair. Hurts said Sunday night that questions about Wentz and Pederson were for them to answer.
On Monday, Hurts said that completing only 52% of his passes was “not good enough.” He said that spotty execution comes down to “what our identity is and what we want to be as an offense. That’s where we are, moving forward.”
Hurts said this offseason he wants to get to the point where he sees the game on the field the same way Pederson sees it, ”getting on that same page with him,” which he feels will allow him and the offense to “play decisively, play fast. ... create the identity for this team.”
Hurts was asked what he thinks he proved this season.
“These last four weeks, they’ve been different for me,” he said. “Mentally, a grind, I’ve embraced it and I’ve loved it. Obviously, I love winning more than anything. ... I’ve been so invested in that ... I’ve kind of gotten to the point where nothing else matters. How can I grow into the player that I know I can be? What does it look like? Who’s around me? Who’s going to help me get there? Just finding that, I think that’s where my head is. Just all about growth.”
The Eagles are not expected to face any reprisals from the NFL over the way Sunday night’s 20-14 loss to Washington played out, with Pederson appearing to secure a loss and the sixth overall draft position by playing quarterback Nate Sudfeld for the final four drives. It was Sudfeld’s first action in two years.
The league is not happy with the Eagles, a senior official said, but it is unlikely to pursue the matter. Doing so might raise other, similar instances of teams sitting out important players, that the league would just as soon not get into. The NFL’s decision to flex the Washington-Eagles game to 8:20 p.m. Sunday, with Washington unable to win the NFC East until it secured what was a meaningless game for the Eagles, meant that the Giants had to sit around, watching and hoping, until Washington’s win made it 7-9, determining that the 6-10 Giants weren’t going to the postseason.
Pederson said Monday that the Eagles were struggling offensively anyway with Hurts at quarterback, who misfired on what would have been a go-ahead fourth-down touchdown pass in the third quarter, the Eagles trailing 17-14. Pederson reiterated that he had planned all along to get Sudfeld into the game.
“Nate’s a guy that is very capable of running our system and ... [providing] an opportunity to pull that game out,” Pederson said.
Sudfeld came in with 12 minutes, 35 seconds remaining. His four series went interception, lost fumble, punt, time expired.
An ESPN report Monday said the Eagles have reworked deals with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive tackle Malik Jackson that require the team to reach new agreements with the players by the start of the league year in March, or both players become free agents. Basically, this will happen. The Eagles don’t intend to keep either player, but handling it this way allows the Eagles to carry a lower cap cost until Jackson and Jeffery officially come off the books June 1.