Former Pro Bowler explains why Wentz should return in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles have one game left in the 2020 regular season, but with their playoff hopes dashed, everyone has shifted focus to the offseason, where big questions abound.
The biggest uncertainty of all: who will start at quarterback when the team takes the field in Week 1 next fall?
Jalen Hurts has made three starts at quarterback to varying results, including a surprising win over a playoff-bound Saints team and an embarrassing and sloppy loss against the Cowboys in Dallas. What exactly he is as an NFL quarterback is unclear.
Carson Wentz, however, was so bad before Hurts took over that a segment of Eagles fans - and of professional football watchers - think the correct decision is to cut Wentz loose and go with Hurts next fall.
Former Pro Bowl safety Ryan Clark offered up his own take on Monday morning, and while he's not totally out on Hurts, he sees a clear decision on the Wentz front: keep No. 11 on the roster.
Clark gave a strong, NFL-educated take on the situation:
"The Eagles now know that they stink no matter who's playing quarterback. I think you've got to keep Carson Wentz. This is a very small sample size, over what we've seen from Jalen Hurts. I think some of the questions that kept Jalen Hurts on the sidelines for so long while Carson Wentz was struggling are going to continue to prevail in the mind of Doug Pederson, in the mind of Howie Roseman and this team.
"[...] I don't know if you've had enough of Jalen Hurts being successful to say he's your quarterback of the future. I believe Doug Pederson when he said this was going to be week to week, because I felt like he still had certain questions. Obviously [Hurts] played well in the first half, in the second half you see the turnovers in Dallas Cowboy territory.
"Those are things that are concerning, because if you're not going to have a quarterback that protects the ball better than Carson Wentz, you're then going to look at the skillset and some of the things that Carson Wentz has shown you, the MVP-caliber play, and say, 'Man, maybe we can get him back there.' I think not having a great performance from Jalen Hurts muddies the water, and makes this a much more difficult decision for Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles."
I think Clark hit the nail on the head here, at least when it comes to discussing Hurts. I'm less sure about his thoughts on Wentz.
Before Sunday's game against the Cowboys, I felt good about Hurts' upside as a Top 15ish quarterback in the NFL. He was mistake-averse, he was calm under pressure, and he could throw the ball downfield better than I expected.
On Sunday, though, Hurts' facade cracked a bit. He missed open throws while standing in relatively safe pockets. He made bad decisions with the game on the line. These don't feel like deal-breakers, considering it was his third start as a pro, but they should give Eagles fans a little pause about considering him a no-brainer QB1 option heading into next year.
As far as thinking Hurts isn't an obvious upgrade and bringing Wentz back next year... I don't know. Wentz looked truly awful this year. He was, arguably, the worst quarterback in the league who started a majority of his team's games. I'm just not convinced that gambling on him returning to Top 12 QB form next year is worth the potential downside of losing any and all trade value, and then having to pay out his full $128 million contract when you can't find a trade partner.
It's not an easy situation to parse. NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank gave some thought to the looming decision on Monday morning:
"Based on what we've seen? There’s just no way to make this call with any guarantee that you'll be right.
"So the only possible solution is bring them both back.
"You could have them compete in training camp, but what I think is most likely is that the Eagles make it clear to everyone Wentz is No. 1 going into training camp and that the organization is committed to him. Give him every chance to return to form.
"And if it just doesn’t happen? Hurts is waiting in the wings with a good month of experience from 2020 to build on, and Wentz’s cap hit is manageable if you trade him after next season."
It'll be fascinating to see where the organization lands.
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