| Delaware News Journal
Joe Burrow injured, Taysom Hill proves he can play QB
SportsPulse: Week 11 early games were filled with surprises. From Joe Burrow’s season-ending injury, to the Saints dominant performance, to the Titans overtime defeat of the Ravens.
The questions started immediately after another two-interception performance from Carson Wentz, when he was sacked four times, including once in the end zone for a safety.
Did Pederson consider benching Wentz? And will he be the starting quarterback when the Eagles play next, on Nov. 30 against the Seattle Seahawks?
For the record, Pederson said he didn’t consider benching Wentz, who went 21 of 35 for 235 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the Eagles’ 22-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Pederson also said that Wentz will start against the Seahawks.
“He’s the starter,” Pederson said. “No questions about it, he’s the starter.”
Rather, Pederson had this to say when asked what kind of message a possible benching would serve:
“You’re sending the wrong message to your football team that the season is over,” Pederson said. “That’s a bad message. We have to work through this.”
Of course, that’s not necessarily an endorsement for rookie backup Jalen Hurts, the Eagles’ second-round pick.
But it also shows the precariousness of the Eagles’ situation. They’re 3-6-1, but still in first place in the NFC East. That’s why he didn’t consider benching Wentz.
“With the way the game was going, and the elements, and we were just really a score from putting ourselves back into this football game,” Pederson said.
That also shows how few options Pederson has.
The offensive line, which started its ninth different combination in 10 games, saw right tackle Lane Johnson leave in the second half with a shoulder injury, center Jason Kelce leave in the first half with an elbow injury (he returned, but with a heavy brace on his elbow that required a teammate to help him buckle his chin strap), and Jason Peters leave with an undisclosed injury.
But Wentz’s play continues to confound the Eagles.
He has thrown 14 interceptions this season, the most in the NFL. He tied his career high for a season, set as a rookie in 2016. That was after a full 16 game season. The Eagles still have six games left.
Wentz has also been sacked an NFL-high 39 times.
“The media, you guys can ask whatever questions you want,” Wentz said. “I know that’s part of the deal. It’s always a scrutinized position playing quarterback, and that’s what I signed up for … I can take it, I can wear it.
“Are we playing as good as we can as a team? No. Am I playing my best football? No. There are some circumstances out there today that we left some plays on the field … For me, I’m just going to put my head down and go to work.”
As has been typically the case, Wentz wasn’t the only one misfiring. The Eagles wanted to establish the run, and they did – at least in the first half.
But Miles Sanders’ fumble at the Browns’ 4-yard line ended the first drive after the Eagles ran on 9 of the 10 plays.
“I gotta be better. No excuses,” Sanders said. “Just gotta be better.
The Eagles got a break when the Browns drove 94 1/2 yards, but Kareem Hunt was stopped on 4th-and-goal from the 1, with the help of a replay review. But the Eagles couldn’t take advantage, and Wentz’s first interception, as his arm was hit while apparently trying for Sanders, was returned 50 yards for a touchdown by Sione Takitaki early in the second quarter.
Still, the running attack was working. The Eagles had 96 yards rushing in the first half and Wentz was 8 of 10 passing.
Until it wasn’t.
The Eagles went 2-for-12 on third down after going 0-for-9 the previous week against the Giants.
Sanders had 63 yards rushing on 11 carries in the first half, and just 3 yards on 5 carries in the second.
And a defense that held Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to a combined 17 yards rushing in the first half, saw Chubb end up with 114 yards.
The Browns came into the game fourth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 159 yards rushing per game. They finished with 137.
The Eagles tied the game early in the third quarter after Fletcher Cox’s strip sack on Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield gave the Eagles the ball at the Browns’ 19. On the first play, Wentz hit Richard Rodgers for a touchdown.
But the momentum was short-lived. The Browns answered with a field goal while the Eagles offense sputtered.
Then after the Eagles started a drive at their 2, Wentz tried throwing out of the end zone on third down. That’s when Olivier Vernon blew past Peters and sacked Wentz for a safety and a 12-7 Browns lead.
It was Vernon’s third sack of the game, all against Peters.
Still, Pederson said Wentz should have gotten rid of the ball. Wentz said he’s not hesitating.
“I’m trying to be smart and all that,” Wentz said. “But as far as hesitation, when I see a guy open, I’m cutting it loose … Ideally, I get the ball out there quicker (on the safety). It’s unfortunate to be in the end zone and taking that sack, but hat’s off to them, they made a good play.”
The Eagles crept closer with a field goal early in the fourth quarter, but the Browns’ running game, held in check in the first half, got going. Chubb ran 54 yards to the Eagles’ 7 before Hunt finished off the drive with a 5-yard TD run with 9:13 left.
The Eagles, trailing by 12, had one last gasp, driving down to the Browns’ 7 with 2 minutes left.
Wentz tried throwing the ball to Alshon Jeffery near the end zone. Jeffery mistimed his leap on the high pass and Denzel Ward picked it off.
“We are where we are because of the mistakes that we’ve been making,” Pederson said. “Coaches and players. That’s everybody included. But this will be a great test for our football team.
“This will be a great sign to see really who’s in and who’s out.”
If Pederson is asking that question, the answer can’t be a good one.