Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and Philadelphia Eagles beat reporter Jeff McLane came out with an article on Saturday, January 16 titled “Inside Carson Wentz’s turbulent season and the forces behind his regression.” It gave a detailed account of what led and contributed to Carson Wentz’s alarming regression in the 2020 season.
Inside Carson Wentz’s turbulent season and the forces behind his regression.
A perfect storm of organizational hero-worship, dubious coaching, injuries, poor roster management and Wentz himself led to one of the NFL’s worst-ever QB declines.
The story: https://t.co/nNWn0VNwUh
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) January 16, 2021
There’s a ton to unpack and come away with, so I wanted to break down and give my thoughts on certain excerpts of McLane’s piece that jumped out to me.
“Roseman, owner Jeffrey Lurie, and other Eagles leaders, however, treated Wentz as if he had won that championship. They allowed him too much influence in the draft, free agency, and coaching decisions.”
I think McLane is reaching a bit here when he says the Eagles allowed Wentz to have too much influence. This would be the first I’ve heard of Wentz having too much say in team decisions compared to other franchise quarterbacks. McLane cited an article he wrote back in April of 2020 where he went into more detail regarding the matter, but most of it seemed like a stretch. It isn’t anything new for franchise quarterbacks to give their input or thoughts on certain roster decisions, at least to some extent. And it’s also hard to believe that Wentz had a huge say in the team drafting Jalen Hurts in the 2nd round.
“The forces behind Wentz’s regression were manifold and in many ways there for years. He didn’t always take to hard coaching. He struggled with accountability… The 28-year-old had increasingly rebuffed advice, defied criticism, and clashed with former coach Doug Pederson last season, Eagles sources said.”
This is something I do believe there may be some truth to. There have been other reports that have said the same regarding Wentz’s stubbornness and unwillingness to accept coaching. However, I also believe the extent of these rumors is being overblown considerably. Wentz certainly looked to be coachable in his first two seasons. But can we chalk up his inability to get back to that elite level he showed in 2017 to him thinking he’s the smartest guy in the room all the time? And if it’s all true, then we must ask whether Wentz doesn’t take well to coaching in general, or if he just didn’t take well to Pederson’s, Groh’s, and Taylor’s coaching.
I have no hard evidence to prove my point, nor am I saying that Wentz is without fault. But even Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have clashed with their coaches. And while Wentz isn’t on the same level as either of them, the point remains that having a franchise QB with a type-A personality isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“There was a disconnect even before Wentz was benched, though. Pederson would call a play only for his quarterback to occasionally kill it for apparently no other reason than his personal distaste, sources said. It became “a pissing match” between the two, one of the sources said.”
This has been brought up by others, but let’s think a little deeper here. Wentz has almost always had the liberty of adjusting play calls at the line pre-snap, that’s a fact. But unless you’re a current player in that offense, does anyone really know how many of the play calls were changed in this manner? Wentz likely changed into a “bad” play call at times, but it’s also highly likely that he changed into a “good” play call at other times. This feels like another narrative that is being overblown by not only McLane but from many others.
“The information in this story was compiled from reporting from team and NFL sources with direct knowledge of the inner workings of the Eagles in relation to Wentz. The sources requested anonymity because they were either unauthorized to speak publicly about the subject or they feared retribution.”
This is the part of the article I took exception with the most. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there that has a huge issue with players not putting their names on their quotes. If someone requests anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly then I guess I can understand that. Although maybe they shouldn’t even be speaking in the first place. But what’s worse is when someone just chooses to remain anonymous because they fear retribution. That’s just a fancy way of saying they’re a coward, plain and simple. If you’ve got something to say, then put your name on it. Don’t hide.
“He doesn’t understand that he lost games for us,” a veteran player said. “He will never admit that and that’s a problem because he can’t get it corrected.”
I don’t know what’s being said behind closed doors and in the locker room. But Wentz has repeatedly said in press conferences that he owns up to his mistakes and accepts responsibility. He’s said “I need to be better” so many times that fans and media are now annoyed with him saying it.
“In the quarterback room, when his errors were pointed out, Wentz would sometimes make irrelevant excuses and Taylor wouldn’t correct him. For instance, there would be a play when he didn’t throw to an open receiver. The read was drawn up as designed, the coverage played out as expected, and he would be asked why he didn’t pull the trigger.
And Wentz would say the look wasn’t there, or he would overemphasize the pass rush, and when it was suggested the play be run again in practice as to get it right, he would object.”
This could be true. Again, I’m not there during these meetings or at practice so I wouldn’t know for sure. But at the same time, this take feels a bit one-sided. For one, we don’t know the exact play in question here. Maybe Wentz should have thrown to an open receiver on the play and was wrong for deflecting blame. But until you show me the exact play(s) then how can we know for sure. This could be just one example where Wentz was wrong compared to a ton of other times where he was right or did own up to being wrong on the play. Also, isn’t it common for players to disagree and discuss what they have seen on a play with their coaches?
Countless Eagles publicly went to bat for Carson Wentz after his demotion, even going so far as to downplay his 2020 issues. He had a bad year (and may benefit from leaving!), but to suggest his “personality” was a bigger issue than organizational/coaching dysfunction feels off.
— Cody Benjamin (@CodyJBenjamin) January 16, 2021
There are quite a few more interesting things that McLane pointed out. Overall, I do applaud his attempt to provide a summary of everything that factored into getting to the point we’re at now with Wentz and the Eagles organization based on everything he knew. It was informative and helpful. But after reading it a few times over I spotted certain things that painted Wentz in an unfair light. So, while I do put a lot of weight into some of what McLane wrote, there are other parts that I take with a grain of salt. It’s up to you whether you want to do the same.