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December 09, 2020

Eytan Shander: Carson Wentz hardly the only member of Eagles to take a step back in 2020

This Eagles season has been a colossal waste of our time.

So many people across multiple levels of this organization were either exposed or took a significant step back this year. Those more fortunate saw stagnation, or were victims of questionable coaching decisions. If you strain really hard you will see one of the lone positives all year: the overnight growth of Jordan Mailata.

Key players and positions of need failed to grow, and in most cases took painful steps back, none worse than the quarterback, who looked like one of the better passers in the NFL up through last season and was among the worst in the league in 2020. 

But don’t let that distract you from how bad things are right up through the owner. Whether it's players who were misused or the people who were responsible for that misuse, let's take a look around the organization at some of the team's biggest issues this season.

Jalen Hurts

This young man was done zero favors right from the jump — and his play/ability is hardly the issue here. If anything, this is an indictment of those who thought it would be a good idea to select him in the first place. Taken so early in the draft, he was thrust into a QB controversy before putting on a practice jersey. He was also done a major disservice being pigeonholed into some “Taysom Hill type" player comparison. It completely erased so many of his ridiculous accomplishments at the QB position at Oklahoma and Alabama.

He represents friction between powers. He’s an unwilling pawn used in messages sent from owner to general manager to coach. Hurts is also a major source of frustration for Carson Wentz — it's hard for me to think otherwise.

To make all of this worse, the one true week where he gets the start comes against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Hurts is royally underprepared for what should be a major moment in his career. He’s been neglected as a gimmick and was given little chance before last week to fully run an offense. I think a lot of us are rooting for him, but we need to temper major expectations.

Carson Wentz

Benching Wentz for Hurts might be the best thing that’s happened to the franchise QB all season. This has been one of the single biggest seasons of regression we’ve ever seen in the NFL. There’s no need to continue to pound the long laundry list of issues with Wentz, instead let’s look at how little anything changed.

Every week someone out there was asking, “There’s no way this can get any worse, right?” And, almost on cue, every single week Wentz would prove why it indeed can. This benching is a result of poor play getting worse. There wasn’t anything at all that Wentz can build on from this season.

Whether he tuned out coaches or they couldn’t provide the necessary tutelage, Wentz defined how bad things could get for Philadelphia.

Jeff Lurie

The only way to truly fix the mess that’s below him is to revert back to the Chip Kelly days. No, I am not advocating for that despicable excuse for an NFL coach to return to this city. I am pushing for the owner to return to that mentality. Hire someone to run the team and prevent the owner/Howie Roseman from intervening. If someone needs to be tied down to a chair during draft day, so be it!

But, as we know, the meddling and warped power structure have been getting worse since winning the Super Bowl. If anything, Lurie is further empowered by doing what nobody else could do before him. Any change coming to this team will be cosmetic at best.

Howie Roseman

The team is in a tough spot cap-wise for next year. A lot of people brought in or paid to play haven’t lived up to anything close to reasonable expectations. Other guys were here for no reason, like Alshon Jeffery. There are no magical trades to squeeze out in order to continue hope for this team. He also brought on this QB controversy now that Jalen Hurts is starting for Carson Wentz. From inserting himself into personnel decisions to missing big shots in the draft, Roseman should have been out in most circumstances.

Beyond his connection with the owner, Roseman is emboldened by picks like Mailata. The longshot pays off, but this is negated by so many early to mid-level picks being botched. People are praying the Eagles finish with the 4th or 5th pick, but even that isn’t a guarantee with Roseman drafting!

Doug Pederson

This is probably the most bizarre one of all — not the worst, as that belongs to Carson, but just weird. Pederson took a battered football team to the playoffs for three straight years, and all of a sudden, he’s been exposed. In just one year his messages are falling on now-deaf ears?

It doesn’t add up like a normal piece of the puzzle, even in this organization. Pederson neglected Hurts two weeks ago, after insisting all week we would see more plays. Mike Kaye of said Wentz didn’t even know Press Taylor was calling plays against Seattle, as Pederson revealed to the media following the game. No matter how many times the coach tells us he needs to run more of the football, Miles Sanders and the rest of the running game evaporates after the first drive.

The play calling is constantly being called into question and it seems we have yet to see any real growth in the offense. It’s stagnant – even if that’s a result of Wentz. You can be optimistic all you want, but I don’t see how this magically fixes itself overnight.

Jim Schwartz

The defense has had brighter moments than the offense, that’s for sure, but it feels like the defensive unit’s blunders have been the biggest since the DC’s arrival. A bunch of hand-picked players aren’t working out. There is a ton on Darius Slay’s plate – one of those fortunate players who has simply remained stagnant. The ask of Avonte Maddox to play four inches taller than he actually is seems as ridiculous now as it did three months ago.

The team isn’t forcing interceptions – which at the very least could provide a little balance to a dysfunctional offense. We know the same old problems with the unit and lack of pressure. That’s why we acknowledge it as no growth, there wasn’t anything we can point to that improved this year on defense.

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Zach Ertz

Injury was a major problem for him this year, but the star tight end disappeared at the start of the season. In a huge year from a contract standpoint, Ertz went from security blanket to yesterday’s trash. What’s amazing is that Ertz couldn’t play himself out of funks, and that a struggling Wentz couldn’t escape his own issues by relying on Ertz.

Unfortunately, this could be the end for a pretty important piece of the offense, and Dallas Goedert hasn’t stepped in with an amazing resume. It’s not any ringing endorsement to go from two strong tight ends to one.

WR Position

It’s a disaster. Next.

Anyone Calling Plays on Offense

What the hell happened this year? This was supposed to be a breakout year with an innovative group of minds calling plays. They blew it. There is no way this thing would be any worse – or even this bad – if they just gave the reigns to Duce Staley.

So much for creativity, misdirection, and any major difference in the plays. If this didn’t become glaringly worse, then there’s absolutely zero growth, but it's hard to not see regression here.

Special Teams

Remember when this was a built-in strength every week? This year we’ve seen returners crumble at the sight of fielding punts (save for Jalen Reagor's TD return in Week 13). We’ve watched a kicker regress to the point where we hold our breath on extra points.

Everything on this unit feels a little off, and it’s the first time we’ve questioned a bunch of players under the arm of Dave Fipp. What might be the most frustrating part is how much of a step back these issues truly are. Something that could plague the team as they try and right other areas – like the offense.

Exhausting, right?

This isn’t happening elsewhere – especially when you look at it from the perspective of sliding back, not just being overall bad.

The Jags and Jets were expected to be low-level squads from the start of the season, something they willfully live up to each week. That's no surprise. Here in Philadelphia, however, the falling off the cliff of the QB mirrors the greater organizational setbacks.

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

Looking at a 7- or 7.5-point line here, it’s simply not enough. I do think Hurts allows you to have some fun with the bet. Look around the NFL, find a line that you can tease down along with the Eagles game. I’d take a hard look at the Titans laying 7. You could bust them down to -1/pick, while bumping the Eagles up to +12.5/13.

It’s the best way to take advantage of how wild the end of the game can be with Hurts running around, something we even saw Wentz able to do. Push the number up 6 points, find another patsy, and enjoy some cash!


Clip of the Week

This week we highlight Jalen Hurts being named the starting QB:

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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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