In a debate that’s as old as time — or what certainly feels that way — the comparison between two quarterbacks returns.
Recently Skip Bayless shared his opinion stating that “Jalen Hurts is everything that Carson Wentz never was for this [Eagles] franchise,” so we’re putting them both to the test. Who is/was the better franchise quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles?
CARSON WENTZ OR JALEN HURTS? WHO’S BETTER SUITED FOR THE EAGLES?
It’s not like we’re comparing apples to oranges here, but we’re certainly comparing red apples to green apples.
Quarterback Carson Wentz was a first-round draft pick in 2016, giving him four additional seasons of playing time compared to Jalen Hurts. Wentz became a starter from Day One, with an entire city rallying behind him as he became the face of the Philadelphia Eagles. Jalen Hurts, a second-round draft pick in 2020, started his career as back-up to Wentz. Though he eventually took over the role in 2021, there has been no shortage of mixed reviews stemming from his first full season as QB.
Regardless of how they started (or ended) with the Eagles, is there truth behind Bayless’ comment? Are the Eagles moving forward with the “better” leader?
Based off what we know so far, the passing game comparison is pretty hard to compare due to the lack of playing time Hurts has had. In his first year as quarterback, he played four games, only starting a full season in 2021. But for the sake of this article, let’s put them head-to-head anyway.
|Carson Wentz (2016-2017)
|Jalen Hurts (2020-2021)
|Average Passing Yards per Starting Game
|Average Passing Touchdowns per Starting Game
In addition to the chart, Wentz’s 2017 season was the best of his career. Despite a season-ending injury, the MVP candidate still managed to be selected to the Pro Bowl and led the Eagles to an NFC East championship before Nick Foles became the alternative. Without even looking at the chart, Wentz had and has continued to have a better passing game. With six seasons under his felt, he has completed 20,374 passing yards.
Wentz’s ability to see down the field also surpasses Hurts. With a slew of off-season training and a better receiving corps, it will be interesting to see what progress Hurts will make in 2022.
The tables turn here. Without question, Jalen Hurts excels in the run game.
In two seasons (19 starts), he has completed 1,138 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Hurts averages 59.9 yards per game. In comparison, Wentz totals 1,276 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns — in six seasons, including 85 starts. That’s an average of 15 yards per game.
Hurts’ run game is undeniable and an immense strength he will have moving forward until the 2022 season. Last year, he was the leading rusher on the Eagles with 784 yards, 30 yards more than running back Miles Sanders. After the run game started at a snail’s pass last season, it took off after Week 8, with Philadelphia leading the league.
If all of Hurts’ offseason passer training fails, at least the Eagles know they have a runner.
Quarterback Carson Wentz has suffered an injury every season, with the exception of 2019. Some would say his injuries caused his game to digress, and I don’t think those critics are too far off.
Carson Wentz’s Injuries
- 2016: Hairline rib fracture
- 2017: ACL tear (grade 3)
- 2017: LCL tear (grade 3)
- 2018: Back vertebral fracture
- 2020: Cranial concussion (grade 1)
- 2021: Pedal foot injury
- 2021: Pedal high ankle sprain (grade 3)
Wentz’s knee injuries in 2017 ended his season early, leaving Nick Foles to lead the Eagles in the franchise’s first Super Bowl win. After he returned in 2018, Wentz was still able to rise to the occasion in terms of his stats, but his back fracture came late in the season, causing him to miss the final three games. In 2019, he had no injuries and finished his first full season since 2017. With a b-squad crew, Wentz managed to secure the NFC East, giving fans a reason to support him before his fall would come the following season.
If Wentz’s injuries were the primary reason for his poor performance in 2020, it’s likely fans would have seen a dip in his gameplay earlier, but it’s possible his declining health caught up to him. The 2020 season was also different in terms of COVID-19 and the regulation preventing fans from attending games.
For the 2022 season, it’s estimated that Wentz has a 77% overall chance of injury, with critics thinking he will miss approximately 2.1 games.
Alternatively, Jalen Hurts is healthy. Seven years younger than Wentz, Hurts has only suffered one injury in his NFL career. Late in the 2021 season, he had a pedal high ankle sprain (grade 3), missing one game. Following Philadelphia’s post-season game, Hurts underwent ankle surgery. He was expected to make a full recovery by the start of OTAs, and has succeeded.
Hurts’ off-season training has occurred without any problems, and luckily for Eagles’ fans, there’s been no mention of his ankle. Hurts carries a 12% overall chance of becoming injured in 2022, and is projected to miss only 1.10 games.
When it comes down to it, both Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts are likable people. But, for the sake of this category, this needs to be divided into teammate-likability and fan-likability.
Both on and off the field, both quarterbacks have grown strong bonds with their teammates. Prior to Carson Wentz leaving the Eagles, he had a close relationship with tight end Zach Ertz, and guys on the O-line like Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce. Jalen Hurts has had similar friendships with Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and newcomer A.J. Smith.
However, when we discuss fan-likability, it’s a little bit of a different story.
Wentz has undoubtedly taken a lot of heat through his career. Fans praised him when he performed well, and were quick to turn their backs during his low points. He’s been named a selfish player and his every move has been criticized. There was a lot of drama surrounding Wentz’s apparent “bitterness” towards not playing in the Super Bowl, but any football-loving human would be disappointed if they were unable to play in the nation’s most popular game.
When it comes to Hurts, Joseph Goodman from AL.com said it best back in 2020. “Hurts is universally beloved because of how he responded to failure. Think about that. He inspired people through personal failure. That’s a rare thing, and why people are so moved by his story.”
In Philadelphia, Wentz and Hurts’ leadership has inadvertently taken a reserved role.
Following the 2015 season, the Eagles were finishing up with Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez. Then came a football stud out of North Dakota with immense promise — the No. 2 overall pick — Carson Wentz. Wentz gave Philadelphia a sense of thrill, and he proved that on the field during his rookie season. That carried over into a near-MVP year, and the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl championship. Wentz led the Eagles to another title in 2019, and despite numerous injuries, he returned without complaint.
Whatever the reason may be for his 2020 fall, Wentz allowed the stress to affect his ability to lead the Eagles. After he was benched for Jalen Hurts, he immediately wanted out of Philadelphia. His relationship with (then) head coach Doug Pederson took a hit, and he made no effort to address the situation with the fans who once supported him.
Hurts took over the quarterback position during a time where there was little to no hope remaining. He brought a spark back to the city of Philadelphia, and despite not being the best, his confidence has never strayed.
Again, Joseph Goodman explained it best back in 2020. “It is easy to lead people in victory. To lead people through loss resonates on a different level. It makes him [Hurts] the ultimate winner.”
Despite the criticism Hurts has taken for his inconsistencies in the passing game, he’s been committed to being a better player. He doesn’t just talk the talk, but he walks the walk. Hurts has been training in the offseason and his progress so far is undeniable.
— Thomas R. Petersen (@thomasrp93) July 15, 2022
SO, CARSON WENTZ OR JALEN HURTS?
Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts have their highs and lows, just like every other player across the league. But, when it comes down to it, Philadelphia is a rough, and equally rewarding place to play. Eagles fans don’t like quitters, and always expect more. Wentz is a great player, and he will likely do good things for Washington, but Jalen Hurts is better suited to lead the Philadelphia Eagles.
Both quarterbacks will meet when the Eagles take on the Commanders in Week 3 and Week 9.