Eagles

Carson Wentz finally opens up about season-ending concussion

Carson Wentz finally opens up about season-ending concussion

Carson Wentz had finally made it through a playoff season healthy and led a dangerous Eagles team riding a four-game winning streak into the playoffs.

And then it happened again.

The image of Wentz walking off the field with a trainer, into the tunnel at the Linc and toward the locker room in the first quarter of the Seahawks playoff game is one that Eagles fans won’t forget for a long time.

On Monday, four months after it happened, Wentz spoke publicly for the first time about his concussion and his decision to report his symptoms to medical staff, essentially ending his own season.

It’s scary stuff,” he said. “It kind of changes a lot of things in your brain, and you only get one of these brains and you’ve got to protect it. It was tough to see the finish of that game. That was the end of our season. It was frustrating not to be out there.

Wentz, in his playoff debut, had completed one of four passes for three yards when Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney hit Wentz late, causing the concussion that knocked him out of the game.

Josh McCown replaced Wentz, becoming the oldest quarterback in NFL history to make a postseason debut. He did some good things – despite tearing his hamstring - but five trips inside the Seattle 30-yard-line netted just three field goals, and the Seahawks won 17-9.

Wentz of course missed the 2017 Super Bowl run with a knee injury and the 2018 playoff run with a back injury.

He’s 27 and still hasn’t made it through the first quarter of a playoff game.

Obviously, I’ve had some time now to reflect on that and it’s frustrating,” he said on a conference call with Philly media Monday. “A head injury is something that’s just out of your control and it’s just the really frustrating part. I know the league is doing everything they can to take the head injuries out of it, but we as players know what we’re signing up for and we know there’s risks involved. For me I was just frustrated A) to have to deal with a concussion, because that’s never fun - I don’t wish that on anybody - but B) to not be able to finish that game with my teammates and not give us the best chance to win and to do everything I could.

Wentz didn’t have his most consistent season in 2019, but he finished very strong, and his final numbers were impressive: 64 percent completion, 27 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a franchise-record 4,039 passing yards.

He became the first quarterback in NFL history with three straight seasons of 20 or more touchdown passes and seven or fewer interceptions.

And the Eagles – despite an almost unbelievable rash of injuries - became only the eighth team in NFL history to start out 5-7 and reach the playoffs.

“We did some amazing things to get to that point,” said Wentz, whose wife Madison had a baby girl a week ago Monday. “I was extremely proud of the team, the way we rallied late in the year, so there’s a ton of positives from the season that I think everybody can look back on and grow and learn a lot from. Just how we weathered a lot of that adversity. But obviously just disappointing in how it finished both as a team but then personally with a head injury. It’s a bummer. I hated not being out there. But overall, after I took some time reflect on the season as a whole, extremely proud of the guys. And it makes me that much hungrier to get back to work so we can go do something bigger.”

Wentz's career so far has been defined by outstanding play when healthy but an alarming series of injuries, and those injuries are so concerning to the Eagles that they drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round last month. 

Maybe one day that narrative will change, and the focus will be on Wentz's touchdown passes and postseason wins. But for now, for a third straight offseason, the focus is on the disappointment and frustration of yet another season-ending injury.

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Eagles' new coach thinks team's WR corps is underrated, can be among NFL's best

Eagles' new coach thinks team's WR corps is underrated, can be among NFL's best

They're tired of being known as the worst group of wide receivers in the league.

And they may finally have a coach who can help them get rid of that tag.

"We have an expectation to be one of the top groups in the league," new Eagles receivers coach Aaron Moorehead said Thursday. "That's what we expect. This group is coming out with a little bit of a chip on its shoulder I think because of last year, and that's a good thing."

Eagles receivers last year combined for just 137 passes for 1,488 yards and nine touchdowns, the worst WR numbers in the league.

It was the fewest yards by an Eagles receiving corps since 2000, when Charles Johnson, Torrance Small and Friends had 1,481.

For the first time since 1966 no Eagles wide receiver even had 500 yards.

Out with Carson Walch, in with Moorehead, the Eagles' fifth receivers coach in five years under Doug Pederson.

It doesn't take much time with Moorehead – even on a Zoom call – to sense his confidence, passion, dedication and communication skills.

And he's already instilled a hunger in this wide receiving group to go from one of the worst in the league to one of the best.

"At the end of the day, a little added extra motivation (doesn't hurt)," he said. "In this day and age (with) social media, you can try to ignore it, but people hear what (critics) say, and I think guys understand that we do have something to prove, and that's OK. There's nothing wrong with that, and I enjoy a good challenge and I enjoy coaching a group that has something to prove."

DeSean Jackson is 33 and managed one healthy game last year. Alshon Jeffery struggled then got hurt and has been largely disappointing since he signed here. Second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had a miserable rookie year. And rookie Jalen Reagor keeps hearing how the Eagles should have taken Justin Jefferson instead.

You can understand why this group feels disrespected.

"I think that's good," Moorehead said. "I've coached groups that people believed were the best [...] and I've coached groups that people disrespected and felt like they weren't very good, so it's not anything new to me. I think we have a really good group. I know we have a really good group. It's just up to us to stay healthy and prove it week in and week out."

The Eagles haven't had a wide receiver with back-to-back 100-yard games since Jordan Matthews in 2015.

They haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.

On paper they should be better. How can they not be?

Their goal isn't just to be better. It’s to be among the best.

"So far they've taken the approach that [they're] ready to go out there and prove every day why we should be one of the top groups in the NFL," Moorehead said.

You have to love Moorehead's approach and his personality.

If his receivers can match his confidence and swagger, the Eagles just might finally have a receiving corps to get excited about.

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Eagle Eye podcast: Is Zach Ertz next in line for a contract extension?

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Eagle Eye podcast: Is Zach Ertz next in line for a contract extension?

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro take a look at Zach Ertz’s contract situation after George Kittle and Travis Kelce got huge extensions. 

The guys pick some things they would have watched in the preseason opener, talk about Doug Pederson’s structure for practice and give their first impressions on a couple of new Eagles coaches. 

Plus, remembering the great Howard Mudd, who died at 78 this week. 

  • (1:02) — What Travis Kelce and George Kittle's contract mean for Zach Ertz.
  • (16:45) — Things we would have watched tonight in preseason opener.
  • (23:08) — Doug Pederson details Eagles’ 2020 training camp structure
  • (28:45) — Aaron Moorehead and Matt Burke speak on their roles. 
  • (36:54) — Remembering Howard Mudd
     

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