Man. This really sucks. In what was an inevitable turn of events, Carson Wentz is moving on from Philadelphia following his trade to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday morning. The deal will re-unite Wentz with offensive guru Frank Reich, with hopes of resurrecting what was one of the NFL’s most promising careers as recently as 2019. The Philadelphia Eagles will receive a 2021 third-round draft pick and a conditional second-round pick in 2022. This second-round pick could potentially upgrade to a first-round selection should Wentz play more than 75% of the offensive snaps next year (which, barring injury, he will almost certainly do). Despite the addition of two draft picks, I can’t help but feel that the Philadelphia Eagles monumentally screwed up in their handling of Carson Wentz over the past twelve months.
Tracking Carson Wentz from 2017-2019
While scrolling through Twitter last night, I came across this highlight compilation of all the touchdowns that Carson Wentz was responsible for during his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles.
I think there’s an underlying narrative to this video that kind of puts into better perspective why the Colts would consider trading for Wentz. His rise and peak in 2017 is superb. No doubt they’d have still won the Super Bowl that year. 1/ https://t.co/so6dDfy6rl
— Ross Wheatley (@Ross_Wheatley) February 12, 2021
The video gave me pause to stop and think about Carson Wentz’s career. A lot of the hype surrounding Wentz stems from his superlative 2017 season. It makes sense. Carson Wentz was unbelievable that season, putting up MVP-type numbers prior to his season-ending knee injury in Week 14. Following his injury, in came Nick Foles and we all know how that story turned out…
Be that as it may, Wentz’s story did not end in 2017. He rushed back to the field, making it back in 2018 less than ten months after suffering his torn ACL and LCL. Statistically, Wentz performed exceptionally well that year, accounting for over three thousand passing yards in eleven games (69.6 completion percentage) and a 21/7 TD-to-INT ratio. It’s even more remarkable when you consider the fact that he played much of the season with a severely compromised back.
Criticism of Wentz’s 2018 season is asinine. Sure, go ahead and blame him for the team’s 5-6 record through his eleven starts, but was he really responsible for blowing man-on-man coverage on a 4-and-15 play versus the Titans (still haven’t forgiven you, Corey Graham)?
— Titans Film Room💎🙌 (@titansfilmroom) September 30, 2018
Was Wentz responsible for the referees blowing what has to be one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen in an NFL game?
There are only Eagles in this pile along with the fumbled football, and yet they rule no clear recovery after 54 stands up w the ball. pic.twitter.com/lmTH5l60PL
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) December 9, 2018
Of course not. Tagging wins and losses on a quarterback is ridiculous given the fact that the QB is involved in just one of the three phases of the game. A defensive miscue. A blown punt return or special teams coverage. We don’t apply wins and losses for those performances. A 5-6 record is not indicative of the type of season Wentz had in 2018. What perhaps hurt Wentz’s credentials the most, however, was the fact that the end of 2018 played out virtually identically to 2017. In came Foles, the team went on a run, made the playoffs, and was one dropped pass away from competing for an NFC championship.
2019 saw Wentz put forth what was, in my eyes, his best season as an Eagle. Surrounded by offensive players that were either plucked off the street or yanked off the practice squad, Wentz put up over 4,000 yards passing, a career-low 1.2% interception rate, and completed a full slate of sixteen games for only the second time in his career. While the Eagles were ultimately eliminated in the Wild Card round after Wentz was knocked out early by a cheap shot by Jadeveon Clowney, the future was bright. We had a franchise QB. He helped lead the team to the playoffs on the back of plays like this…
This Carson Wentz to Miles Sanders play still blows my mind. Amazing!pic.twitter.com/rhanJsAdTA
— Kyle Carney (@k014c) March 25, 2020
What more could we have asked for?
A Self-Inflicted Destruction
What is most frustrating about this situation is that this was wholly unnecessary. Now I get why some people are angry at Carson Wentz. I can track their argument. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. He played terribly in 2020. It was a historically bad year for him. Unprecedented, if you will. You wanted to move on because he sucked in 2020. I get it…but you’re wrong. People making this argument are placing a whole lot of their thinking in recency bias; stop acting like 2018 and 2019 never happened. Wentz wasn’t great just in 2017. He has a track record of success in the NFL. Why are we so willing to throw in the towel on Wentz for what was, admittedly, a terrible 2020 season? What brought us to this point?
We’re in this situation because of the ineptitude of Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie. It’s laughable when people say that Carson Wentz is weak-willed because he didn’t like the Eagles drafting Jalen Hurts in the second round. A real athlete, a real leader, would rise to the challenge, they say. How would you feel if you were rewarded for dragging one of the league’s least explosive offenses into the playoffs with a potential replacement?
Did we ridicule Aaron Rodgers when he bristled at the Green Bay Packers drafting Jordan Love in the first round last year? No, we didn’t. We understood why he’d be upset given the persistent need for playmakers in the early rounds. Why were we so quick to judge Wentz for expressing those same feelings? Here Wentz is, having put his body on the line again and again, forced to make plays with the likes of Mack Hollins and Deontay Burnett, and your solution is to draft a QB in the second round? Give me a break.
The Eagles front office sent mixed messages to Wentz from the moment they signed him to that long-term extension. Make no mistake, big-money contracts almost never work out in the NFL at the QB position; you hamstring your ability to sign other free agent talent and must rely on the draft to keep your team competitive. It’s why teams like the Green Bay Packers are still able to challenge year after year in the NFC despite having broken the bank for Aaron Rodgers. They draft exceptionally well. The Eagles on the other hand…yeah. We all know how Howie rolls. The Eagles failed to construct a roster that could be successful around Carson Wentz. They then chose to scapegoat him for their shortcomings. Carson was not the problem. The problem lies in the management (or mismanagement) of the Philadelphia Eagles roster.
Dark Clouds on the Horizon
The future does not look bright for the Eagles. Make no mistake, I expect Carson Wentz to return to form now that he’s away from the toxic mess that is the Philadelphia front office. Does he return to that MVP form he showed in 2017? Maybe, maybe not, but honestly, if he plays as he did in 2018 and 2019, the Indianapolis Colts just made out like bandits. It’s going to suck, but I’m going to root for the Colts and for Wentz to succeed. Why? Because maybe, just maybe, Howie will get his comeuppance and get kicked to the curb. Am I willing to lay money on those odds, though? No chance.
Maybe we have something in Jalen Hurts. I’m going to try to remain open-minded and give him a chance. He didn’t have much of an opportunity to play in 2020 and flashed both good and bad when he did make his way onto the field. Will he ever be as good as Wentz was in 2017, though? Absolutely not. Hurts does not have a ceiling like that. Not even close. Doug Pederson foretold this turn of events a few years ago while talking to John Lynch. “As long as we don’t screw him up.” As long as you don’t screw him up, you’ll find yourselves in position year in and year out to compete in the NFC. Well, Philadelphia, Howie, and company really screwed up and we better get comfortable. The next few years are going to be a rough ride.
“As long as we don’t screw him up.” pic.twitter.com/ODz7qDBAJd
— Andrew Salciunas (@asalciunas975) February 18, 2021