Craig Robinson is my favorite actor from the U.S. adaptation of the British TV sitcom series “The Office”. He played the warehouse manager Darryl Philbin best known for his cryptic honest answers to personal requests for advice. Whenever a fellow employee began an emotional rant over a deteriorating situation and got a little too judgemental or insulting, Craig’s character would bring the rant to a halt with two simple words spoken quietly: “Start over…”
A human re-set button…
To the thousands of Eagles fans and hundreds of Eagles media members calling for the ouster of Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman, EYE must invoke the spirit of Craig Robinson and matter-of-factly demand: “start over”…
True enough, it’s been a far fall for Wentz since his 2017 knee injury, then a back issue, then playing with a dearth of weapons and a sunk offensive line. His 2020 has been abominable. Wentz has lacked consistency, made awful decisions in throwing a league-leading 15 INTs, and held onto the ball much too long allowing for some of his NFL-high 50 sacks (10 more than the next closest).
The franchise QB has possibly played himself out of a job this season.
With the Eagles on the hook for a nearly $35 million cap hit next year, they are in a tricky situation moving forward with a QB who has a bad case of the yips and a second-round pick waiting in the wings. With Pederson reportedly on the hot seat, and the Eagles falling further behind in the woeful NFC East, Philly’s next move under center is anyone’s best guess.
To all this, EYE say “start over”…
And that does not rule out starting Jalen Hurts over Carson Wentz the rest of this lost 2020 season…
It just means everyone calm down, let’s look at the overall problems with the offense, and not reflexively blame the incumbent quarterback or the front office/coaching staff for what’s gone wrong.
In other words, the entire offense must be asked to “start over”, in terms of not just individual standards of performance but also systemic design engineering.
Trailing by 17 midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s eventual 30-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson turned to Jalen Hurts to, in his words, create a “spark.”
The spark will now set Philly ablaze with speculation about the future of Carson Wentz.
The working theory has been that the selection of Hurts in the second round of April’s draft sunk Wentz’s confidence. Despite the $128 million extension signed last year, Wentz has played like someone with sapped self-assurance.
The once-upon-a-time MVP candidate disagrees with that assessment.
“No. I’m not the type to worry about and look over my shoulder or any of those things,” Wentz said after Sunday’s loss, via Pro Football Talk. “I think at the end of the day, I can play better. We can, as a team, and as an offense especially, play better. There’s always going to be different things going on in the building or different chatter and all of that stuff. That’s part of this business. That’s what I signed up for. The scrutiny, the challenges, the adversity, all of it. I’ve got to handle it all — the good, bad and the ugly.”
EYE am not a Wentz defender or loyalist. But one thing he said there rings true. To paraphrase, the offense as a team has to play better to give Wentz or any QB in there a chance to do what his QB-style does best. Wentz is not the most mobile guy anymore, so you’ve got to improve the baseline protection scheme to account for that on passing downs. Funny how better QB decisions become when you’ve got time to make them…
Pederson benched Wentz at the 7:39 mark of the third quarter, inserting Hurts after five drives in which the incumbent netted a single field goal. Wentz completed six of 15 passes (40 percent) for 79 yards passing on 5.3 yards per attempt and took four sacks.
“I didn’t know what the plan was fully,” Wentz said of being replaced. “I was just told he was going in for the next play and the next series. I didn’t really know what was going on there. Obviously, that’s frustrating, as a competitor and the personality I have. I want to be the guy out there. It is what it is. They made the call today. At the end of the day, we lost. That’s the most frustrating thing.”
Hurts provided said spark on his first drive, but a penalty scuttled the possession. His second drive ended with a TD pass. A punt return score from Jalen Reagor closed the gap to seven points. The Packers then closed the game with a touchdown and game-sealing INT. Hurts certainly helped bring a dull Eagles offense to life, even if it was against a defense content to hold a lead.
Hurts is obviously way more mobile in the pocket than Wentz has ever been, but that alone does not solve the Eagles’ problem on offense. There are still gaping holes in the offensive line personnel, and incredible lacks of knowledge of the playbook on the part of supporting cast reserves filling in at RB and WR.
But okay, start Hurts at QB again… no matter how he shines in change-of-pace relief of the systemic flaws of the currently disemboweled offense, eventually he will be swallowed up by the same letdowns endemic to the system which exposed Wentz.
Imagine Big Ben trying to survive in the current Eagles mess of an offense… it would be even uglier. Wentz for all his hype is just a clone of Big Ben—and that is a good thing. But guys like that need pristine pockets on at least half of their dropbacks to be effective. Pristine ain’t happening much at all these days in Philadelphia. That’s the reality. Hurts’ mobility in climbing the evaporating pockets may be just enough to get the Eagles to the end of this miserable season with at least some credibility in their offense. But it’s not the long-term answer.
Good. Play Hurts, bench Wentz for the rest of 2020, and what the heck, give Nate Sudfeld a start or two while you’re at it. Just know that your individuals at QB aren’t the real problem. It’s the entire system on offense which is on trial.
The total offense needs a makeover. Once the organization buys into that theory, then positive changes can occur. This thought encompasses everything from players to coaches to general management.