Carson Wentz’s brutal day with the Commanders shows why the Eagles are better with Jalen Hurts

PHILADELPHIA – We all know that Carson Wentz has long since moved on from the Eagles, and so have the Eagles from Wentz.

But now that Wentz is back in the NFC East with the Washington Commanders, the Eagles must face him twice each season, starting Sept. 25 in Washington.

So a comparison is relevant here.

Sure, it’s a safe bet to say the Eagles are better off with Jalen Hurts than Wentz. It’s also pretty low-hanging fruit to reach that conclusion after watching Wentz’s three-interception debacle one day Monday during a practice at the Commanders’ training camp.

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Reporters at that practice described fans booing Wentz and mourning the fact that the team is picking up Wentz’s $28 million contract through 2022. That decision, in large part, forced the Commanders to part ways with veterans like Landon Collins, Matt Ioannidis and others because they had to fit Wentz’s contract under the salary cap.

But really, the reasons the Eagles are better off with Hurts run much deeper than a bad day during the first week of training camp.

We saw some of that Tuesday through a steamy morning practice in which Hurts connected on a deep ball with Jalen Reagor, continued to work his first target on AJ Brown and generally made good decisions with the ball.

Yes, the usual caveats certainly apply in both cases.

Wentz is definitely not as bad as his 3 INT day. And Hurts threw an interception in each of the Eagles’ first three practices, including a brutal decision in which he threw to his body while running to his left.

Hurts, however, is a student of the game and it doesn’t take much to see that he is not above criticism. He is also in a much better situation, with better players around him. And it’s in the same system, with the same coaches for the second year in a row.

This matters.

Wentz, meanwhile, is on his third team in three seasons. He was almost out of Indianapolis last season after a brutal finish to the season. That came a year after he reportedly asked the Eagles to trade him in large part because he didn’t want to compete with Hurts for the starting job after being benched for the final 4 1/2 games of the 2020 season.

“I think it’s in the details,” Hertz said of his improvement. “I think the details get better and fine-tuned over time. And from year 1 to year 2, running the same offense … installing the same things, tweaking them, trying to do the things that (the coaches) think are more profitable, you begin to refine even more.

“It just takes time. That’s how it’s going to be for years to come.”

Remember, Hurts just turns 24 next week. There is still plenty of room for growth. Wentz, meanwhile, will turn 30 in December. It is possible that he has already reached his ceiling.

It may appear that Wentz had a better 2021 season than Hurts. Wentz had 27 touchdown passes against 7 interceptions, compared to 16 and 9 for Hurts.

But look closer.

Completion percentages and passer ratings were about the same (62.4% and 92.4 for Wentz, vs. 61.3% and 87.2 for Hurts).

But you can argue that Hurts’ running ability should also be considered. Hurts led all NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards with 784 and scored 10 touchdowns, an Eagles record for TDs by a quarterback. Combine that with his passing yards and TDs, and Hurts’ totals reach 3,928 yards with 26 TDs.

Add Wentz’s rushing yards and TDs and he ends up with 3,778 and 27.

Sure, both teams finished with the same record, at 9-8, but the Eagles made the playoffs and the Colts didn’t. And a lot of that is on Wentz.

After all, the Colts were so disgusted with Wentz’s performance in those last two games, when they needed just one win to make the playoffs, that they traded him to Washington before they even knew who they were going to replace him with (it turned out to be Matt Ryan). .

Wentz was especially brutal in that finale against Jacksonville. He also missed the entire week of practice the week of the penultimate game against the Las Vegas Raiders after testing positive for COVID-19. He was unvaccinated.

Intangibles for a quarterback matter just as much as stats.

Hurts also had a brutal final game, throwing three interceptions in the playoff loss to the Buccaneers. But he spent the offseason traveling from Texas to California to Philadelphia and in between to work with QB coaches and teammates.

Sure, in the grand scheme of things, Wentz’s 3-interception day will become a distant memory. He will likely come back with some good days and post some impressive stats.

And Hurts could easily continue his strong showing on Monday and Tuesday with his share of tackles, turnovers and blocks.

It won’t be for lack of trying, though, as Eagles coach Nick Sirianni showed by knocking down every one of Hurts’ interceptions.

“Two of them were bad decisions,” he said. “One was a bad decision in the pocket. One was a bad decision in motion. The other one, he just missed the shot and Marcus (Epps) really made an unbelievable play. You’re going to miss some shots . . . but the ones you actually fix hard are the bad decisions.”

Contrast that with Wentz. His completion percentage last season, which ranked 25th in the NFL, just ahead of Hurts at 26th, mirrors his career percentage of 62.6 percent.

There is not much room for improvement. And that’s especially true for a young team coming off two straight seven-win seasons with only Terry McLaurin as the star.

With Hurts, much more is possible.

“Just take steps every day,” Hertz said. “Do better than I did last time. It’s simple. I don’t want to make it harder than it is. I’m just pushing myself, pushing the guys around me to be a better leader and a better quarterback for the team. “

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

This article originally appeared in the Delaware News Journal: Eagles’ Jalen Hurts improves as Commanders’ Carson Wentz has a rough day

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