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FIERRO: Doug Pederson made right call to go to Jalen Hurts. Now he must stick with him

NICK FIERRO
The (Allentown) Morning Call (TNS)
Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts runs during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 30-16. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

They couldn’t take it anymore.

The coaches, the players and all the fans who weren’t insane by the time Jalen Hurts trotted from the sideline to take command of the Eagles’ offense Sunday at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field had to be in lockstep with the painful decision to bench starting quarterback Carson Wentz.

The offense under Wentz had grown stagnant, with no sign of a recovery, for weeks and weeks.

So after a three-point, four-sack first half was followed by a four-and-out on the first series of the third quarter with the Eagles trailing 14-3, head coach Doug Pederson finally pulled the trigger on something he was desperately hoping he wouldn’t have to do.

He went to Hurts, their second-round draft pick, and left him in, for better or for worse.

A transformation: What happened after Hurts was inserted — even though the Eagles went on to lose the game — should tell everyone why Pederson was right to make the move when he did and why he shouldn’t even allow the thought of going back to Wentz next week against New Orleans to creep into his head.

Because the transformation was incredible and not a coincidence.

Hurts not only gave the Eagles’ offense a spark with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Greg Ward early in the fourth quarter, but the team responded in all three phases.

The defense held the Packers to a three-and-out to set up a punt that fellow rookie Jalen Reagor returned 73 yards for a touchdown.

Suddenly it was a ballgame at 23-16, with time left to complete the comeback.

That it didn’t happen should not take the Eagles off the path they chose on this night, because the spark was there, the belief was there and production from their rookie quarterback was there.

Guarded responses: So were the guarded post-game responses to questions about whether he should remain the No. 1 quarterback.

“I’m trying to do what I can do for this team,” he said. “I think it’s as simple as that. I’m working hard every day, put my best foot forward. ... I’m trying to lead and just get this thing in the right direction. So anything that can help this team.”

Did he think he should have had this chance earlier?

“Anything to help this team,” Hurts reiterated.

His numbers weren’t anything special. In fact, they were kind of lousy: 5 of 12, 109 yards, one TD, one interception; five carries for 29 yards.

But they were effective, unlike Wentz’s hollow numbers.

They gave the Eagles a chance to win — until Aaron Jones broke a 77-yard touchdown run to all but wrap it up.

Hurts’ interception came in garbage time when his arm was hit as he threw.

Hurts deserves his shot: Now he needs to have a chance to finish what he started in this game.

“I think [the TD pass] created some energy,” he said. “You know, as great as it was, as great a spark as that was, the energy that we had, it’s about what we do moving forward.

“I’ve always kind of had this saying I’ve gone by: ‘So what? Now what?’ Regardless of whatever it is, how it looks, it’s about how you respond,” he said. “So I’m telling you we’re going to be working our tail off and we’re going to find a way. Everybody has it on their mind to get this thing done.”

His teammates picked up their game with Hurts in it, which is something that has to be duly noted by Pederson, who wouldn’t say who would start next week against New Orleans.

“There’s a lot of a lot of things that I’m going to consider and evaluate before anything’s decided,” he said, “but, you know, opportunity arose and like I said, we just did we just needed that opportunity to get us back in that football game today. And we came up short.”

Pederson's take: Should be interesting to see what Pederson says after reviewing the game tape, because he claimed he couldn’t properly assess the play of Hurts (or Wentz, for that matter) until seeing everything over in slow motion.

“[Hurts] did some good things,” Pederson said. “He used his legs when he had to, made a really nice throw to Greg Ward, got us back in this football game that we needed. ... But I’ll really have to evaluate the film to decide how he played overall.”