It’s official. The Eagles announced on Tuesday afternoon that Jalen Hurts will be the team’s starting quarterback for this weekend’s game against the Saints and likely the short-term future. It’s been a bumpy road up to this point and for Carson Wentz, an intersection lies ahead.
The story so far
Carson Wentz has endured just about everything since being drafted in 2016. An MVP-caliber season ripped away by a torn ACL ended up with him on the sidelines in Minnesota, watching his backup win a Super Bowl. A full offseason of Nick Foles being the QB1 later, Wentz returned early from injury and after settling back into a rhythm, had to deal with anonymous teammates criticizing his leadership and play, on top of battling another injury.
In 2019, Wentz received a $128M contract extension and after yet more anonymous sources throwing hissy-fits, Wentz made a statement by putting a broken offense on his back and dragging them to a divisional title and a playoff berth. One that was heartbreakingly ripped from him due to an illegal hit from Jadeveon Clowney.
Just as it seemed like the Eagles were poised to give Wentz all he could ever desire in terms of offensive weaponry, the team spent a second-round pick on a quarterback. Wentz had finally gotten his mojo back, received a new deal and was playing great football again, only for the team to stab a dagger into the back. No matter how you frame it, there is no way you wouldn’t take that personally.
What transpired next, as we all know, was a mess.
Carson Wentz regresses
The honest truth is that Wentz simply has not been good enough this year. You can use every excuse in the book and while many factor into his regression, Wentz was paid to be an elite quarterback. Elite quarterbacks overcome adversity, bad o-line play, and poor receiving play. Good quarterbacks can get by and sneak a few wins, and bad quarterbacks drown in a sea of desperation. Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson have all been sacked 40+ times in a season and were still able to use their talent to elevate whatever carcass they were carrying. Wentz wasn’t.
The reason Wentz plummeted from being an elite QB to someone who could rarely complete a checkdown is fully on the Eagles and only the Eagles, but the fact is, they had to make a change.
Completing just 57.4% of his passes, Wentz threw for 16 touchdowns and 15 picks in a year where he’s been sacked more than any other quarterback through the opening 13 weeks of the season. He became a statue in the pocket unless he was running for his life and the lack of accuracy was terrifying.
Again, there are a ton of factors that play into this, and not all lie on the shoulders of the former second-overall pick. From Press Taylor’s relationship with him to a porous offensive line, mundane playcalling, and a lack of receiving help, he hasn’t had it easy. But what matters now is what happens next.
What happens next?
After all Wentz has been through in his Eagles career, it’s easy to see why he’d lose confidence in his own ability or the faith the organization has in him. The frustrations were evident in the loss to Green Bay, with the North Dakota State product getting vocal with coaches and tossing balls at the ground in anger at the state of affairs.
It’s fair to assume Wentz didn’t take the drafting of his potential replacement well (who would?) and this could be the straw that breaks the Camel’s back. If he didn’t take the drafting as motivation to go and prove a point and ball out, it’s hard to imagine him viewing his own benching in the same way.
Time away to reflect on the season, his own play, and maybe play a greater role in helping Jalen Hurts may provide Wentz with a refreshed perspective and renewed desire. It could also suffocate whatever flame remains.
Whether or not he can be fixed is going to depend on a multitude of factors. Do the team still have faith in him and are they making that clear? Does Wentz have a burning fire to win a starting role back? Will he still have that if Hurts pulls a Nick Foles and Wentz is once again watching from the sideline while his team thrives? If Doug Pederson is indeed fired, would that impact his motivation to get back on the Horse?
Carson Wentz is a broken quarterback, not a bad one. How the Eagles handle the coming weeks and months will go a long way in determining whether he’s fixable or a lost cause. Whatever happens, it’s important to remember that Wentz really is the victim here. Not just of his own demise, but a demise caused by the team who are supposed to be helping him prosper.
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