It’s been a busy week in Philadelphia. After 13 weeks of bad football and constant negative rumors regarding Philly, things managed to get even crazier. Franchise quarterback Carson Wentz has officially been benched for rookie Jalen Hurts. Yes, the thing so many fans have been calling for has finally happened. At this point, the Eagles’ direction is uncertain looking forward, and playoff contention looks a lot further away than it has in three years. However, let’s not get distracted by all of this. The fact is that the Eagles have a game this week. Unfortunately, that game is against one of the league’s best in the New Orleans Saints.
We’ve yet to see anything above mediocre from the Eagles this season. However, with a new man at the helm of the offense, we’ll see what kind of spark Hurts can ignite. It won’t be an easy one for the birds, but in order to fight for a playoff spot, the Eagles need this game. Ahead, we’ll discuss some of the key matchups and storylines heading into this week 14 matchup.
The Battle of Backup Quarterbacks
To begin the 2020 season, both Taysom Hill and Jalen Hurts were QB2 for their respective teams. However, both quarterbacks will be suiting up as starters this week thanks to some significant rib injuries and awful play.
Taysom Hill, who has made a name for himself as the Swiss Army knife of the league, has looked solid during his first three starts. He’s been able to use his dual-threat ability to beat opposing defenses both through the air and on the ground. Although nowhere near future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, Sean Payton has made do with what he’s been left with, going 3-0 without Brees. However, going into a game against a hot Eagles’ defense, it will be interesting to see the Saints offensive game plan.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the Eagles are still in the exploration phase. Pederson and co. have yet to see what they have in Jalen Hurts, so it will be interesting to see how they start him out. Earlier this week, Pederson committed to running a simplified playbook to ease Hurts into the game, so don’t expect too many fireworks from the Eagles offense.
This game will ultimately come down to which former backup can outplay the other. On paper, the Saints look like the much better team (granted, they probably are). However, until we see what Hurts can do, it’s impossible to count Philly out of this one entirely.
Eagles’ Defensive Line: The Lone Bright Spot in 2020
Although Philadelphia hasn’t been a good football team this year, one unit has been pretty exceptional: the defensive line. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Derek Barnett make for a dominant starting unit, and Josh Sweat, Malik Jackson, and Vinny Curry are great rotational pieces. Even when the rest of the team has struggled, this unit has continuously played well and is far from the Eagles team’s best part.
With all that said, they must play well yet again this week. Taysom Hill, as previously discussed, is as mobile as it gets. The key this week will be containing him and forcing him to stay in the pocket and win with his arm. Hill hasn’t shown himself to be a good passer, so the Eagles’ d-line must do everything to make him throw. If not, it will be yet another long game for Philadelphia.
How This Game Effects the Rest of the Season
For Philadelphia, this game means everything. With Washington and New York red hot, it’s looking unlikely the Eagles make it to the postseason. Throughout the 2020 season, the Eagles have done everything in their power to shoot themselves in the foot and knock themselves out of contention. Well, it looks like it’s paid off as, with only four games remaining, the Eagles sit one and a half games behind both the Giants and Football Team. Without winning out, the Eagles’ playoff hopes look all but gone.
However, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s probably best that Philly doesn’t win this game for the franchise’s long-term success. The Eagles currently sit at sixth in the 2021 draft order, and with holes all along the roster, it’d be nice for them to fill one of them with elite talent. Of course, this doesn’t mean hope for an Eagles’ loss–there hasn’t been much room for celebration this season, but a win over the Saints would certainly call for it. However, it may be time for Philadelphia to abandon 2020 and fully commit to the future.