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December 30, 2020

Eytan Shander: Wentz should start Eagles' finale for same reason Hurts replaced him

The team has now seen what they have in the rookie. Before the offseason, they must find out whether or not the franchise QB learned anything from his benching.

This season continues to amaze me. Every single week, it’s like the Philadelphia Eagles are tanking – not on the field, but rather with their front office. How is this even possible? How can people be so tone deaf to the very things they’ve put in motion?

These questions are the bare minimum dancing around my brain as I try to figure out what exactly this benching was all about. Here’s what I do know, the one thing I’m most confident about the final regular season game: IF the Eagles are dead set on starting Carson Wentz next year, he should start this week.

This isn’t anything negative about Jalen Hurts – rather quite the contrary, nor is it anything that blindly props up Wentz, demanding he come back after learning his lesson. This was never about demands, but instead about seeing what you have. Right? “Let’s see what we have in Hurts” was one. And my other favorite was, “Let’s see how Wentz bounces back from the benching.”

I’ve seen enough of Jalen Hurts to know he has the DNA to be an NFL quarterback. That doesn’t mean he’s going to Canton, but benching Wentz was also about seeing what the team has in Hurts. It’s clear the kid has the heart, mind, and at least the legs to lead, the same exact quality that was lacking with Wentz.

Unless the plan right now is to start Hurts next season, starting him this week is redundant. We’ve seen Hurts play in multiple scenarios, from being up big to a hail mary. Win or lose, it was about seeing what this kid can do with the opportunity.

Any team in the NFL who needs QB help would love to be able to work with and grow a player like Hurts. We will see if anyone feels the same about Wentz. Even if the team is unsure about Wentz' future and if he’ll even be in the running for the starting position next season, put him out there to remind people of what he can still provide.

Isn’t that what this whole thing was all about? Teaching Wentz a lesson from afar; especially since the messages clearly weren’t resonating in practice or during games. Go back and look at some of the quotes about why he was benched and how Wentz received it, how great his attitude was during practice and other similar upbeat descriptions of his mood.

We all need to see if anything’s changed. How could it not change? The young man saw an even younger man come in and play – at least – as well as he did all season. Was this all a sham because Wentz knew his contract would fully entrench him as the starter? Man… if any message like that was fully or even partially conveyed, we should expect to see little to no change with Wentz.

The Eagles need to start Wentz on Sunday night to see what truly has changed inside the QB’s mind. It’s the same beat-up team he’s struggled with earlier in the season that Hurts just played with the past three weeks. No excuses about injuries or anything like that, he doesn’t need to put up 300 yards and three touchdowns, he just needs to look like a damn NFL quarterback again.

Benching Wentz for the full-on remainder of the season is a mistake and takes him off the hook once the offseason begins. It’s like the old Simpson’s episode where Marge sends Bart to bed without dinner, after Bart moans about being hungry, Homer runs up the steps with a slice of pizza yelling, “I’m coming boy!”

This is full-on enabling and even worse coddling by an organization. We should be able to see a tangible change – or at least the start of it – in Wentz following the humiliation of being benched.

I’m not sure if Homer is Doug, Howie, or Lurie — but someone is running up the Rocky steps with a fat slice of pizza for Wentz. Lesson not learned.

Entertainment Pick of the Week

It’s back! But then again so is me watching new, non-bingeable TV shows. One thing that’s become painfully obvious in watching shows, specifically the ones where you have to wait a week for a new episode, is the serious pressure put on them to capture and keep our attention.

I’ve watched The Undoing and am now – thanks to Harry Mayes for making The Middle watch – locked in to Your Honor. While the first of the two fizzled out, the Showtime program seems to have much more potential. But while I strongly recommend watching Your Honor – leave The Undoing – it started to walk down the path that all of these week-to-week shows seem to travel.

Even if it’s only for an episode or two, we see how difficult it is to keep up with the binge element. So many people are binging now who simply couldn’t afford to pre-COVID. Watching The Office or Breaking Bad for the first time is a cinch because you can cover a season over a weekend, or two during the week. You can breeze past a slower episode knowing you will still cover the entire season or even series.

Slower episodes are killers in week-to-week series because you lose patience and interest. The writing needs to keep you locked in with any cliffhanger, but also deep plots and at least a little action. You can’t just take two weeks and develop plot or some ancillary character. We need to have our attention grabbed – different means for different genres – and sustained. We need to be talking about it all week on social media before the next episode airs.

I went through this with The Undoing as I saw the writing fall apart faster than Hugh Grant’s defense. It was a disgrace what they did to people who stuck out the final two episodes. This after two straight weeks of repetitive plot themes that did nothing to further the story.

While I am still enjoying Your Honor – the cast is strong and the show is shot really well – I tread a little lighter after two consecutive episodes of the show significantly slowing down. That’s just life now in the binge world. Again, I like Bryan Cranston’s role and how vulnerable he can be. It’s worth your time.

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Eagles Bet of the Week

Each week I’ll provide one big bet I like for the Eagles game. It can be a simple line bet or a more specific prop. Find everything you need at

Yikes. This week doesn’t really jump out with a ton of strong plays, but there’s still some value on the board! Let’s take advantage of one trend that seems to be consistent with Jalen Hurts, 1st half vs. 2nd half performance. For multiple reasons, the productivity has dropped in 2nd halves, so expect the rookie to come out firing in the first.

It’s really the only shot the Eagles have at beating WAS, jumping out early and holding a lead. Take a look at the first half lines and push it a little bit with the Birds. I love Hurts to lead this offense to a couple of early scoring drives, enough to lay a couple of points vs. WAS. Take the Eagles -3.5 to win the 1st half.

The Middle w/ Brooks, Mayes and Eytan

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Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

You can listen to Eytan on The Middle w/ Brooks, Mayes and Eytan right here on PhillyVoice (Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-1 p.m.) and on @foxphlgambler (Mon.-Weds., 6-8 p.m.). You can also catch him on FOX 29 Good Day and on his new show Props & Locks Thursday nights on FOX 29.

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