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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