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Can any quarterback prosper with this Eagles roster? | Early Birds

Carson Wentz or Jalen Hurts? What if, in the long run, the answer is neither?

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter against the Packers on Sunday.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter against the Packers on Sunday.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans. While the Birds have badly underachieved during this 3-8-1 season, one has to admit they never lack interesting story lines. Besides dealing with a four-game losing streak, which even in the NFC East can get a team in trouble, now there is a quarterback controversy.

You all know by now that Jalen Hurts replaced Carson Wentz with 7 minutes, 39 seconds left in the third quarter and played the rest of the game during Sunday’s 30-16 loss in Green Bay. Hurts gave the team a spark, and no doubt the talk shows will be filled with many Hurts fans.

To illustrate what a disappointing season this has been, the big highlight each week has been Doug Pederson’s press conferences. This week should be no exception.

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Eagles problems could go beyond the quarterbacks

Until Pederson announces his quarterback decision, and even afterward, the debate will continue: Wentz or Hurts?

Here is another question to ponder: What if, in the long run, it is neither?

While Hurts gave the Eagles a spark, leading them to a touchdown, his passer rating was just 67.4. Of course Wentz’s passer rating was just 57.4. Neither was anything to brag about.

It’s possible that both could be winning quarterbacks; in fact, Wentz is a winning quarterback, with a 35-32-1 mark in his five seasons. It’s also possible that neither of them will have a viable chance to win unless the Eagles shore up other areas of their team.

Against Green Bay, the Eagles allowed seven sacks, four of Wentz and three of Hurts. That’s right, even with his mobility, Hurts was sacked three times in less than a half of work. Wentz also has good athletic ability, but he has also been sacked plenty of times, 50. They all weren’t his fault.

He has shown a stunning regression, and much of it is on him, but he hasn’t been helped a lot by his supporting cast.

The Eagles have allowed 53 sacks, worst in the NFL. As EJ Smith wrote, against Green Bay, the Eagles used their 11th combination of offensive line starters this season.

Losing Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks for the season with a torn Achilles tendon was a major blow. Fellow Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson will end up missing nine games this season and is out for the year while needing ankle surgery. And, of course, tackle Andre Dillard, the 2019 first-round draft choice, has missed the season due to biceps surgery.

Very few teams can afford to lose two Pro Bowl caliber players and another starter and have a workable offensive line. Wentz has predictably been running for his life all season.

The Eagles receivers haven’t been able to get consistent separation. Through the games of Sunday afternoon, the Eagles were tied for 21st in the NFL with 17 receiving touchdowns. The Eagles were also tied for 23rd in yards per reception (10.7).

The Eagles have a minus-11 turnover ratio.

On defense, the Eagles are tied with Houston for fewest interceptions (three). The Eagles are 26th in opponent passer rating (99.6).

There is no doubt that a team has to get the quarterback situation right in order to be a viable NFL contender, but the other parts have to work as well.

Wentz has certainly been adversely affected by the hits and sacks he has taken this year. He has clearly made many poor decisions and has to be held accountable, but his banged-up supporting cast hasn’t done him any favors.

A question with Wentz and Hurts is whether they can be consistent. Both certainly have their flaws, but it would be interesting to see how they would operate with a stronger offensive line and receiving corps.

For for the final four games, the focus will rightly be on the quarterbacks, but the rest of the team will no doubt also be evaluated to see if the Eagles have the players to complement any quarterback.

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. Les Bowen has all the details about the defeat in his game story.

  2. David Murphy writes that the Eagles should start Hurts over the final four games.

  3. Jeff McLane writes that the Eagles decision makers are responsible for the current quarterback controversy.

  4. In McLane’s Up-Down Drill, two quarterbacks received a thumbs up and (hint) one of them wasn’t Carson Wentz.

  5. In his column, Marcus Hayes points out the many flaws in the Eagles’ defense.

  6. EJ Smith writes that no matter who was quarterbacking the Eagles, they were playing behind and offense line that continued to struggle.

  7. Twitter reaction to the Eagles loss was again lively, not only due to the loss, but the quarterback situation.

  8. In Hayes’ quick observations of the game, he critiqued both Hurts and Wentz, but also took time to evaluate that other quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

  9. Bowen leads off his Eagles notes by writing about cornerback Darius Slay, who was questionable on Friday, played on Sunday, but left the game due to injury.

  10. Eagles special teams earned special mention in Paul Domowitch’s game grades.

  11. Domowitch writes about the big day for Jalen Reagor, which included a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown.

  12. Here were the events of the Eagles game as they happened in this blog by Smith and Damichael Cole.

  13. During his postgame news conference, Pederson wasn’t ready to name his starter for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

  14. Ed Barkowitz has his usual extensive recap of Week 13 in the NFL.

  15. Tim Tai and David Maialetti put together this photo gallery of the game from Green Bay.

From the mailbag

“All these columns about Doug and Wentz — why, apparently isn’t Howie (Roseman) on the hot seat? One Super Bowl win under his watch, middling or struggling the rest.” — Paul B (@_PapaTangoBravo) on Twitter.

Thanks for the question, Paul. First off, Howie Roseman has received plenty of criticism, and who knows whether he is or isn’t on the hot seat? That said, you write, “One Super Bowl win under his watch,” as if that is such a little thing. He did a masterful job in building that Super Bowl team and deserves a lot of credit, and that would buy anybody some time. Plus, the Eagles have been a playoff team the last three years (including the Super Bowl season) and regardless how bad the NFC East was last year (and this year, when it is worse) it’s still a big achievement. That said, Roseman has had more misses than hits since the Super Bowl, and the question is how much time that championship buys him. I would be shocked if he didn’t come back, but one more poor draft and offseason might be enough for a change.