Doug Pederson is noncommittal on starting Jalen Hurts beyond Sunday

Thursday, December 10, 2020
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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson admits he did not expect to be in the current situation his team is in.

But after drafting Jalen Hurts in the second round and with Carson Wentz playing so poorly, Pederson has turned to the rookie quarterback.

"I didn't expect us to be here, no," Pederson said during a Wednesday morning press conference.

Even some Eagles players are surprised Wentz is being benched for Hurts. But the Eagles need a spark and we will see if Hurts can give them just that Sunday against the New Orleans Saints at Lincoln Financial Field.

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Pederson wants to see Hurts be himself and do nothing more.

"As a kid you dream of an opportunity like this," Hurts said after his first practice as the starter.

"Just go out there this week and obviously take control of the huddle and just lead, lead the way he knows how. That's my message to him: 'Be Jalen Hurts. Do the things you can do,'" Pederson said.

"I just want to earn the respect of my teammates," Hurts adds.

Pederson is noncommittal to Hurts beyond this Sunday's game against New Orleans.

As for Wentz, Pederson said he has no doubt that the former starting QB can regain form to the quarterback we saw from 2017 to 2019.

The coach still thinks Wentz can be an "exceptionable" QB in the NFL.

"He's proven that," Pederson said. "We've got to continue to battle, fight and work and just get back to being Carson Wentz, back on track. That's my focus with him."

Pederson expects Wentz to be the backup Sunday and be supportive and a leader as the Eagles look to end their four game losing streak.

Jalen Hurts, center, talks with Head coach Doug Pederson during a game, Sunday, Dec 6. 2020, between the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers as Carson Wentz looks on.
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

Pederson said Wentz needs to "embrace" and "understand" the benefit of looking at this difficult situation through a different lens as he reflects and tries to repair this situation.

Eagles rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor said Hurts has "swagger."

Reagor pointed out how Hurts competed for a National Championship as a freshman at Alabama as a 19-year-old.

Reagor said Hurts can lead the Eagles but also believes Carson Wentz can regain form.

"Whoever we rock with we rock with," Reagor said.

Eagles WR Greg Ward said he was surprised by the decision.

At the same time, he called Hurts "a natural leader."

"He is going to try to take control and make plays," Ward said.

Hurts says it's a great opportunity for him and do what he can do to help this Eagles team win and end their longest losing streak in four years.

Hurts says he tried to be consistent in his preparation and hard work behind the scenes leading up to this week and this game.

The Eagles play the Saints Sunday at 4:25 p.m.