Extra Points: Vote for Pedro
Maybe Ben DiNucci will develop into a competent NFL quarterback some day.
That day was not Sunday, however.
The Dallas Cowboys rookie struggled throughout a 23-9 loss to the Eagles at blustery Lincoln Financial Field. He completed 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards with no touchdowns, lost two fumbles and was sacked four times. Most of his 40 pass attempts were thrown with a funky, sidearm motion that conjured images of Uncle Rico from the movie, "Napoleon Dynamite."
"How much you wanna make a bet I can throw a football over them mountains?"
In his defense, he wasn't supposed to be playing.
DiNucci, a seventh-round draft pick from James Madison University in Virginia, opened the season as the third-string quarterback behind Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton. He was supposed to spend the year on the Cowboys' scout team with the idea that maybe he'd become a reliable backup who could maybe help out in a pinch in a few years, sort of like Chase Daniel.
Given all that, it was little wonder that he was overwhelmed against the Eagles.
"This NFL thing, it's hard," DiNucci said. "These teams are good."
But as bad as DiNucci played, he was better than Carson Wentz, who has regressed from an elite quarterback into a turnover machine who also makes questionable decisions.
Wentz completed 15 of 27 passes for a career-low 123 yards with two interceptions, two touchdown passes and two fumbles.
He now leads the NFL with 12 interceptions and 16 total turnovers. According to NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com, he's the first Eagles quarterback to throw at least 12 picks in eight games since Ron Jaworski had 16 in 1977.
His rating of 61.2 - DiNucci's was 64.6 - marked the eighth straight game he's been under 100. According to NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com, Wentz is the first Eagles' quarterback to have a rating below 100 in his first eight games of a season since current coach Doug Pederson did so in 1999 before giving way to rookie Donovan McNabb.
Not exactly what the Eagles envisioned when they gave him that $128 million contract.
"We understand we can't turn the ball over, bottom line," Pederson said. "We can't do the things that we're doing in order to really survive in this league."
It wasn't like Wentz was facing the "Doomsday Defense." Bob Lilly, the late Jethro Pugh, Lee Roy Jordan, Mel Renfro, the late Herb Adderly and others are/were in their late 70s/early 80s.
The four turnovers on Sunday night came against a Cowboys defense that had registered three total takeaways in their first seven games. They had given up 243 total points in that span and were considered a threat to break the league record for most points allowed in a season. The 1981 Baltimore Colts gave up 533.
Despite the injuries they've suffered, the Eagles should have been able to score more than seven points in the first half and manage more than two offensive touchdowns.
He was so bad Sunday night, no one would have blamed Pederson for sitting him in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts in the second half. Pederson, however, insisted Monday he never even considered benching Wentz.
"Listen, Carson is our starter and we got a lot of trust and faith in him that he can get the job done," Pederson said. "And by no means was I in a position to make a decision or make a move. My mind wasn't there. I wasn't going there. I was going to give Carson every opportunity to win that game for us, and he's capable of doing that, and I wasn't in that frame of mind."
Unless Wentz is able to turn his season around after the upcoming bye, however, Pederson might be tempted to change his mind.
Former coach Andy Reid did so in 2008. He benched McNabb in favor of Kevin Kolb at halftime of an eventual 36-7 loss to Baltimore. McNabb returned to the lineup the next week and wound up leading the Eagles to the NFC Chamionship game.
Pederson clearly needs to do something. Maybe that something is using rookie Jalen Hurts as something more than an ineffective decoy.
If Pederson doesn't bench his starter, it's incumbent up Wentz to start playing like a franchise quarterback.
At 3-4-1, the Eagles still lead the woeful NFC East but have a challenging stretch looming. They return from the bye to face the New York Giants (1-7), then have five games - at Cleveland (5-3), Seattle (6-1), at Green Bay (5-2), New Orleans (5-2), at Arizona (5-2) - against opponents with a combined record of 26-10.
"I have to be better out there," Wentz said.
He doesn't have to throw a football over any mountains, but he will need to move a few.
Maybe they need to call Uncle Rico, who was last seen whipping spirals outside his van in Idaho while waiting for another shot at glory.
"Back in '82, I used to be able to throw a pigskin a quarter mile."
Or how about the NFL quarterback who bears a resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite?
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