The Philadelphia Eagles still are clinging to first place in the lowly NFC East and Doug Pederson doesn’t want to signal a last-place mentality to his team by making a quarterback change.
That was Pederson’s adamant message following Sunday’s 22-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns, in which starting QB Carson Wentz was intercepted twice – including a pick six in the first half – amid calls to switch to second-round rookie Jalen Hurts.
“If you get to that spot, whether you don’t start him or bench him, you are sending the wrong message to your football team that your season is over and that is a bad message,” Pederson said after the Eagles fell to 3-6-1, a half-game ahead of the other three teams in the East. “We have to work through this. When times get tough, sometimes (changing quarterbacks) might be the easy thing to do.
“This business is about work, this business is about detailing, having ownership, things I talk about to the team, that is what we have to do as coaches and players, it is not one guy, this sport is bigger than one guy.”
Pederson added that Wentz will start Sunday against Seattle, the second of a daunting five-game segment played against teams with a combined record of 35-15 (.700).
The 27-year-old Wentz has four years and more than $134 million remaining on his contract after this season. He completed 21-of-35 passes for 235 yards Sunday, but 57 of those yards and his second touchdown pass of the game came on the final drive with the Eagles down by multiple scores.
“With the way the game was going and the elements and we were just really a score from putting ourselves back into this, I did not consider (making a quarterback change),” Pederson said. “No questions about it, he’s our starter.”
Wentz now has 14 interceptions through 10 games this season, tying his career-high over 16 games during his rookie season in 2016.
Cleveland’s defense accounted for nine of their 22 points Sunday, a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown by Sione Takitaki and a safety on a sack by former Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon, one of his three sacks in the game.
“The media, you guys can ask whatever questions you want. I know that’s part of the deal.” Wentz said. “It’s always a scrutinized position, playing quarterback. That’s what I signed up for…going back to high school. So I can take it, I can wear it. It is what it is.
“Are we playing as good as we can as a team? No. Am I playing my best football? No…You guys can ask whatever questions you want, but I’m just going to put my head down and go to work.”
During his weekly radio spot Monday morning with WIP in Philadelphia, Pederson reiterated that the Eagles are sticking with Wentz.
“At that position, this late in the season when that happens, sometimes people take that as we are looking into next year or preparing for next season and giving some of these young guys an opportunity to play,” Pederson said. “Jalen is preparing himself each week to play and that’s what a backup quarterback should do.
“My perspective is we have to get it fixed with Carson Wentz. That’s where my trust and faith lies, we can get it done. That’s where I am at. By no means am I saying that I don’t have trust or faith in Jalen. It’s a matter of getting the corrections done with Carson.”
Hurts, the former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback, has thrown only two passes this season, completing both for 27 yards. He also has run the ball 12 times for 56 yards in nine appearances.
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