Jalen Hurts must look terrible in practice.
The Browns didn’t put their best player on the field Sunday, but that was OK, since the Eagles once again started their worst.
Two more turnovers, including a pick-six; a passel of bad decisions; and more third-down feebleness wrote the Chapter 10 in the tale “Carson Wentz: 2k20.” Wentz extended his interceptions lead with Nos. 13 and 14, which brought his turnovers lead to 18. Only three NFL teams had more than his 16 giveaways as he took the field in Cleveland, and he was the lowest-rated passer and least-accurate passer in the league among starters with at least 250 throws, and that won’t change much: He finished 21-for-35 for 235 yards with two TDs and those two picks, a 75.3 rating.
Meanwhile, Hurts, a second-round rookie, entered once, for a 6-yard run. Head coach Doug Pederson might want to reevaluate Hurts’ role going forward. Maybe a few more snaps.
Like, all of them.
Wentz wasted a fine effort from the rest of the team, which is now 3-6-1. His defense supplied a goal-line stand, created a turnover, sacked Baker Mayfield three times, contained the best running back duo in the NFL. The special teams blocked a field goal.
And yet Wentz’s offense managed 17 points; 10, really, since the Browns essentially ceded a TD late in the fourth quarter.
The Browns lacked pass-rush monster (and helmet-fencing master) Myles Garrett, the best defensive player in the NFL this season but, on Sunday, a coronavirus protocol casualty. They lacked him, but he was not missed. The Eagles converted just 2 of 12 third downs. They are 2-for-21 in their last two games.
In Garrett’s absence, Wentz and the Eagles continued their pattern of inefficacy. He threw one interception in the first half and nearly threw three others in the second before he forced a pass into double coverage at the end of the fourth quarter to seal the Browns’ 22-17 win. He missed open receivers on well-designed plays. He took five sacks, and mostly they were not his doing, but some were: to wit, the safety he took in the third quarter.
Wentz wasn’t helped by Miles Sanders’ third red-zone fumble of the season. It also didn’t help that tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson couldn’t finish the game, or that center Jason Kelce missed part of the second quarter and played the second half one-armed.
Wentz didn’t help himself. Again.
Sanders fumbled for the third time this season, two of which he has lost. As with his last fumble, this one happened close to the opponent’s end zone. The last one, JJ Arcega-Whiteside recovered in the end zone. Sanders was not as lucky Sunday. Carrying the ball one-handed in the middle of a pileup, Sanders was stripped by Cameron Malveaux at the Browns’ 4, where Karl Joseph recovered.
Wentz’s second interception came as the Birds tried to cut into the 12-point lead, but his first put the Eagles in a hole. It squelched a second-quarter drive when the game was scoreless. Yes, he was hit on the throw, but it was mostly his fault.
As he tried to feather a pass to outlet receiver Sanders, Wentz got nailed from behind on a delayed blitz that tight end Richard Rodgers failed to block, and that hit created the interception that was returned for a touchdown. But Wentz shouldn’t have had the ball. Two seconds earlier, he should have hit Jalen Reagor, who was wide-open and in his line of vision.
Instead, Sione Takitaki rambled 50 yards for a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Combine that pick-six with the two points Wentz surrendered in the third quarter, and Hurts looks more and more appetizing.
Wentz took a sack for a safety near the end of the third quarter, and Jason Peters and Isaac Seumalo were beaten on the play by Olivier Vernon, one of his three sacks, but Wentz had three seconds to get rid of the ball. He had an open receiver on that play, too.
Wentz was sacked three times, and it was rainy and cold, and his supporting cast crumbled ... but Wentz had chances. Still, he failed.
It is who he is.
Who is Jalen Hurts?