Eagles to start Hurts at QB Sunday over Wentz

Eagles to start Hurts at QB Sunday over Wentz

1:41 PM ET

  • Tim McManusESPN Staff Writer

Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson is naming Jalen Hurts his new starting quarterback, and the rookie will start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Carson Wentz, the team’s franchise quarterback to this point, will back up Hurts.

“We’re not where we want to be as an offense,” Pederson said, according to the team’s website. “I looked at the whole thing and decided that for this week to look for that spark again to try to get the team over the hump, to try to get everybody playing better.”

Hurts came off the bench in the Eagles’ 30-16 loss to the Packers on Sunday and outperformed Wentz. Hurts finished 5-of-12 for 109 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing five times for 29 yards. Wentz ended 6-of-15 for 79 yards and was sacked four times.

“Carson is like all of us right now, he’s disappointed. He’s frustrated,” Pederson said. “He’s been a professional through it all. He supports his teammates and that’s what you want to see from him, the leader of the team. I know sometimes the quarterback gets a lot of the blame like the head coach does. It’s the good with the bad. It’s not about Carson Wentz. It’s not about one person. We know we have issues on offense and it has been a struggle for us all season. That’s where the frustration lies a little bit, but he’s been a pro and would expect nothing less.”

Wentz, 27, has been mired in the worst season of his career, entering Sunday’s game ranked first in interceptions (15) and sacks (46), 31st in completion percentage (58.1%) and 30th in yards per attempt (6.02).

Hurts played 33 snaps over the first 11 games, lining up all over the formation while being used mostly as a gadget player. With increasing calls for Hurts to take more snaps in recent weeks, Pederson has maintained that Wentz is the Eagles’ starter. Hurts, though, saw an increase in first-team reps at quarterback before their Week 12 game against the Seattle Seahawks, according to sources.

Hurts tossed the first touchdown pass of his career midway through the fourth quarter, hitting receiver Greg Ward for a 32-yard strike on fourth-and-18. Fellow Eagles rookie Jalen Reagor made it a one-score game with a 73-yard punt-return touchdown a little over a minute later, but the comeback bid ended there, as the Packers’ Aaron Jones broke off a 77-yard TD run and Hurts followed with an interception.

“Any experience and any opportunity to touch the field, it only kind of raises the value of that player. It’s kind of has been that way all year, and today Coach gave me that opportunity,” Hurts said after the game. “With all my heart, I had every intention of coming in and getting it done and winning the game, but we came up short, and that only lights a fire in everybody moving forward.”

Hurts racked up 52 touchdowns for Oklahoma last season — 32 passing and 20 rushing — while finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Joe Burrow. The Eagles surprised many by selecting Hurts 53rd overall in April’s NFL draft despite having given Wentz a four-year, $128 million extension in the summer of 2019.

The Eagles (3-8-1) have lost four straight games and are in third place in the NFC East standings.

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