- The Washington Times - Monday, December 7, 2020

With his team trailing the Green Bay Packers by 17 points in the third quarter, Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson knew he needed to do something. So he pulled quarterback Carson Wentz — struggling again Sunday — for rookie Jalen Hurts.

With it, the calls for a permanent quarterback change may have only intensified in Philadelphia. Wentz completed 6-of-15 passes for 79 yards, and while he avoided any giveaways, the North Dakota State product still leads the league with 15 interceptions.

Under Hurts, who the Eagles drafted in the second round, the team seemed to get a lift. Philadelphia still lost, 30-16, but Hurts showed some of what made him a standout playmaker while at Alabama and Oklahoma.

“We needed a spark. We needed something to go our way, so I put Jalen in the game,” Pederson said. “He did some good things, used his legs when he had to. He got us back in the game. I have to evaluate the film to decide how he played overall.”

Facing a fourth-and-18 midway through the fourth quarter, Hurts rolled out of the pocket to the right and fired a 32-yard touchdown pass to Greg Ward on the run. Earlier, Hurts dropped in a 34-yard completion to Jalen Reagor along the sideline.

After Hurts’ touchdown pass, Reagor returned a punt 73 yards to the house, narrowing the deficit to seven points. But Aaron Jones broke a 77-yard touchdown run to close out the contest, dropping Philadelphia to 3-8-1.

For much of Hurts’ rookie season, he had been utilized infrequently as a gadget-type player. Sunday was his longest outing, and he threw for 109 yards, completing 5-of-12 passes. He threw an interception late, with safety Darnell Savage making an impressive diving snag.

“I’m trying to do what I can do for this team,” Hurts said. “I think it’s as simple as that. Working hard every day, putting my best foot forward, and taking somebody with me. I’m trying to lead and just get this thing in the right direction. So, anything that can help this team.”

Hurts finished second in Heisman Trophy voting last season, posting 52 touchdowns — 32 of them throwing — for the Sooners. During his final season, he threw for 3,851 yards and ran for another 1,298, marks that rank eighth in Oklahoma all-purpose yards history despite just playing one season there. Hurts finished his college career with 80 touchdown passes and 9,477 yards between Oklahoma and Alabama.

Pederson hasn’t made a decision as to which quarterback will start under center next week against the Saints, though, according to Daniel Gallen of PennLive.

Wentz signed a four-year contract extension in 2019, but his performances have left much to be desired. The 27-year-old ranks 31st in completion percentage (57.4 percent) and 30th in yards per attempt (6.00). Still, Wentz said his confidence remains, even after Philadelphia benched him in favor of Hurts during Sunday’s loss.

“I know what I’m capable of,” Wentz said. “I know I can play better. I never have doubted myself or lost my confidence in my abilities.”

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