Carson Wentz is reportedly unhappy with the Eagles. Maybe he could learn from Jalen Hurts.

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Doug Farrar
·4 min read
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It’s not surprising that Carson Wentz would want to move on from the Eagles if the Eagles remain with rookie Jalen Hurts as their starting quarterback beyond the 2020 season, but it’s also difficult to understand what Wentz could have done about it other than to not play like the NFL’s worst quarterback through most of the year.

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Wentz will want a trade out of Philadelphia if Hurts rpresents the long-term plan. Head coach Doug Pederson made the call from Wentz to Hurts after Wentz completed six passes in 15 attempts for 79 yards and four sacks in a 30-16 Week 13 loss to the Packers. Hurts came in and completed five of 12 passes for 109 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He showed rookie limitations, but he also brought an energy the passing game hadn’t had all season.

This gave Pederson the impetus to give Hurts his first NFL start against the Saints’ top defense, and Hurts availed himself well — he completed 17 passes in 30 attempts for 167 yards, one touchdown, no interception, and 106 rushing yards on 18 carries. Hurts’ running ability gave the Eagles’ offense further energy — the Saints hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 55 straight games, and both Hurts and running back Miles Sanders (14 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns) broke that streak.

“He’s a natural leader,” Sanders said of Hurts after the Eagles’ 24-21 win. “He gave us that spark that started last week. I think we look like a complete team. Overall, I think this whole team did a hell of job.”

Hurts will start for the Eagles against the Cardinals on Sunday, and per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the plan is to have him start for the balance of the season. Given Wentz’s performance this season — he leads the league in sacks and interceptions and currently ranks dead last in DVOA among starting quarterbacks — what else are the Eagles supposed to do?

Perhaps one of the reasons Hurts has been able to navigate this situation so well is that he’s been where Wentz is. At Alabama, he was benched in favor of Tua Tagovailoa at halftime of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, lost his starting job to Tagovailoa in the 2018 season, transferred to Oklahoma for the 2019 season, finished second in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting to LSU’s Joe Burrow, and found himself selected in the second round of the 2020 draft.

Now, here Hurts is, on the other side of the equation.

“You can tell when a guy comes in and he starts having success, he’s been ready, he’s been waiting on his moment, he’s been making sure he’s sharpening his sword until his moment came and that’s exactly what you get,” Eagles veteran defensive end Brandon Graham said of Hurts this week, via ESPN. “When he wasn’t in, he was supportive, he was out there working hard, out there trying to beat us every day and I think you started to see flashes of him getting better every day he was out there.

“The work you put in, you start to become that natural leader because of what you do every day. You’re not a pretender, you’re not faking it. People see the work you put in and now they’re seeing you produce on the field and then people start to respect you even more. You get that respect, and then eventually you become a leader without even knowing it because people want to be like who you are.”

Yes, this is tough for Wentz, but the Eagles can’t worry about that. They have enough to worry about. They’re somehow still in the NFC East hunt at 4-8-1, and if they are able to offload Wentz to another team, they’ll have to do it despite the four year, $128 million extension they signed Wentz to in June, 2019. That contract makes Wentz a $34,673,536 cap liability in 2021, per OverTheCap.com, and in a season where it’s expected that the per-team salary cap will drop from $198.2 million to about $175 million due to COVID-based revenue shortfalls, that number looms ever larger.

As for Hurts, he’s saying now what he said when he experienced his own benching.

“You’ve got to try to be the coffee bean,” Hurts said in August, 2019. “You’ve got the carrot [and] the egg. You put an egg in boiling water, it hardens up. It doesn’t affect anything. The carrot softens up. The coffee bean spreads and gets stronger and impacts the people around you.”

This week, it was all about bringing up the people around him, and positive actions that could be “contagious.”

Hurts knows the drill. Perhaps he could give Wentz a few tips on how best to handle it.