For a team still struggling to correct its offensive woes, Monday night's 23-17 loss to the Seahawks did no favors for Carson Wentz and the Eagles.
With chatter of a potential shift at QB ringing loudly in the days leading up to the game, Wentz had a chance to send a message against a secondary that has provided little resistance all season. What followed ended up being as confusing as the game's deciding margin.
"Offensively, we've battled with a lot of injury. A lot of different moving parts up front with the offensive line, guys in and out. We haven't had the consistency and continuity that you would like week in and week out," coach Doug Pederson told reporters. "We just haven't had that this season. That's something that we don't make excuses for; it's where we are, and we have to get better."
The defense tried leading that charge by forcing two turnovers on downs and a punt in the first quarter, but the offense again stalled early. Miscues and stagnant play-calling led to five straight three-and-outs before the Eagles finally scored a TD just before halftime. Prior to that, Philly hadn't recorded a first-half TD since Week 8.
On their first play of the second quarter, the Eagles trotted out Jalen Hurts, who was reportedly in line for more snaps under center. After his first snap drew a Philly false start, Hurts completed a pass to Alshon Jeffery for a gain of six. Seconds later, Wentz was back in the game, only to get sacked another few seconds later, leading to a punt.
Despite the early indication that the rookie would see more work, Hurts saw the field on just three snaps, including the penalty. Pederson said he ultimately decided to use him how he did because of the bad start.
"The plan was to use him when we could," Pederson said when asked about playing Hurts more. "The way the game started, we just didn't have many opportunities, too many three-and-outs. I don't think we got a first down until the second quarter. We failed to execute so it just wasn't in the cards, so to speak, early in the football game. No more, no less than what we would use him each week."
Aside from the odd QB rotation, perhaps the most head-scratching decision of the night came midway through the fourth quarter at a time when the Eagles likely should've been completely out of things, but weren't thanks to the defense playing as well as it did.
Facing fourth down and a 20-9 hole on the Seattle 15, Wentz and Dallas Goedert failed to sync up on a play that saw the tight end veer inside as Wentz looked outside. The Eagles could only watch helplessly as his errant throw landed in Quandre Diggs' hands in the end zone and wonder what could've been had they gone for the field goal instead.
Pederson attributed the call to the team wanting to "stay as aggressive as possible" given the circumstances. The turnover, on top of the bevy of off-target passes and six times Wentz was sacked by a Seahawks defender, highlights a larger problem that wouldn't be fixed even if Wentz was benched.
"It's not about one guy. We had breakdowns across the board and it doesn't really matter who's back there," Pederson said. "The mistakes were still gonna be made and [that's] something we got to fix."
The state of the NFC East helps soften the blow of this latest loss, but, with only five games remaining, the Eagles better straighten up and fly right if they want to make the playoffs. Had their fluky late-game TD and two-point conversion never occurred, the final score would've more accurately represented their ongoing troubles.
Wentz said after the game that the team is frustrated and looking to turn things around and "surprise some people." Beating the red-hot Packers on Sunday would be a great place to start.