Eagles head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Monday, after getting a chance to review the film from Sunday’s (close) loss, and announced the starting quarterback for their Week 16 rivalry matchup against the Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Hurts.
This shouldn’t really be a big surprise given the rookie quarterback’s impressive win over the Saints in Week 14 and then leading the offense to come from behind and tie the Cardinals in Week 15 — even though they ended up losing by a score.
Here’s what the head coach had to say about the decision and more:
On Jalen Hurts starting vs. Dallas
Pederson wouldn’t say whether Hurts would be the starter for the final game of the season, but said he wants to see how he and the team rebound from yesterday’s loss. So, Hurts will start this week against the Cowboys.
He was asked if Hurts’ starts through the rest of the year, whether that would be enough to evaluate the QB and his potential. Pederson acknowledged that it would give them a good idea of what he can, but obviously, they don’t have a full body of work from 16-plus games and a preseason. But, if you go back to Hurts’ college days and how he led those teams and the success that he’s head, that is also an indication of who he is.
Pederson was sure to note, however, that there’s still room for improvement
He had mentioned a few weeks ago that he speaks to Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman weekly, but wouldn’t get into those conversations, only to say that neither of those guys have weighed in on the starting quarterback decision.
On Jalen Hurts vs. Arizona
The head coach noted that Hurts ran the offense and protected the football. He also pointed out that the guys around him have been playing better and have elevated their game which has helped with Hurts’ success.
“He led the team. He played mentally and physically tough, which was good to see.”
Pederson also talked about Hurst extended plays with his legs, and had to throw more from the pocket on Sunday because of the nature of the game and playing from behind. But, Hurts kept the guys engaged through the entire game and gave them a chance to win it at the end.
He was asked to elaborate on the guys around Hurts elevating their game, and mentioned that Jalen Reagor missed time early on and Alshon Jeffery is finally healthy, so this is the time of year when things really start clicking. He wasn’t sure about whether they would have seen the same level of improvement if Carson Wentz had stayed at QB, or if their improvement was related to Hurts being on the field.
Pederson later explained that things aren’t Wentz vs. Hurts in the locker room, but rather it’s one team fighting and scratching each week to see how they can end this season. He noted that Wentz has been a professional and has been helping with things on and off the field, and that the team doesn’t feel any sort of animosity between the guys.
- Pederson spoke a little about how COVID protocols have made it challenging to bring in new players needed due to injury. When asked specifically about punter Cameron Johnston potentially being in the concussion protocol this week, Pederson said that the NFL has released some new guidelines, and if a player has been within the testing environment — like with another team’s practice squad — they have an opportunity to get them on the field sooner.
- The head coach was asked about Matt Pryor and admitted that overall he played well, but did give up some sacks. Pederson said that after having gone back and looked at the film, he noticed that not all the sacks were on the OL, and are sometimes due to the QB. He mentioned that Jalen Hurts needs to know that on a 3-step drop, the ball has to come out of his hands — and that happened a few times yesterday.
- Pederson said that his message to the team this week is that they still control their own destiny through the rest of the season. He’s never been part of a season where winning the division was possible with just 6 wins, but they still have an opportunity with wins over Dallas and Washington to wrap up the year.