Eagles

Carson Wentz proclaims confidence in himself to turn things around

Carson Wentz proclaims confidence in himself to turn things around

Carson Wentz knows you’re frustrated. 

He’s frustrated too. But he is also confident he’s going to turn it around. 

Things haven’t gone to plan this year. The Eagles are 5-6 with five game remaining and Wentz is coming off one of the worst games of his NFL career. Sure, the offensive line struggled on Sunday and his backup receivers ran sloppy routes, but Wentz needs to play better. He knows that. 

In the summer, Wentz talked about the importance of letting go of stress and playing with a sense of freedom. He hasn’t looked very free recently. 

On Wednesday, I asked Wentz if it has been harder to play stress-free over the last couple of weeks. His answer was interesting. 

Not really,” Wentz responded. “Just because, shoot, there’s always stress, there’s always pressure, there’s always that stuff. For me, just to be confident in who I am, the good, the bad, the ugly. I don’t really get caught up in what people say, think, whether it’s good, whether it’s bad. I’m confident in who I am as a player. 

“You’re going to go through highs and lows, you’re going to go through peaks and valleys. For me, just being confident in who I am as a person, as a player and as a man of God. That’s really all that matters. 

“I have so much confidence in my ability to turn this around and do my best and get these things fixed, that I don’t get too high or too low going through these things.

This is definitely a valley for Wentz, but he’s trying to keep his routine. 

That means that on Sunday night, he spent time with his family and then watched the game tape before he went to sleep. 

“I try to stay the same whether we’re undefeated or completely defeated,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter.” 

When Wentz watched the game tape on Sunday night and then again on Monday morning, he had the same takeaway: He can’t cough the ball up. Against the Seahawks, he fumbled three times, lost two, and threw two interceptions. 

Wentz acknowledged that it’s a constant learning process to figure out when he should try to extend plays and when he should concede them. No matter what he does, Wentz insisted, he needs to learn how to make sure he doesn’t turn it over. 

It can sometimes be a trap that players and coaches fall into, saying, “If we take away X, it wasn’t that bad.” But in this case it makes some sense. If the Eagles don’t turn the ball over on Sunday — at least not five times! — they have a much better chance to win. Taking away turnovers wouldn’t solve all their offensive problems but it would be a good start. 

The next three games — at Miami, vs. New York Giants, at Washington — are extremely winnable for the Eagles. Those three teams are all 2-9, so the Eagles have a chance to turn things around. 

For now, though, Wentz heard your boos on Sunday. And he understands them. 

“They have a right to be frustrated,” Wentz said. “They play money to sit in those seats, they pay money to cheer us on and they are so passionate about it. And I’m the same way. When they’re frustrated, I’m frustrated too. So, for me, just to walk that fine line and not get too high or low no matter what it is. 

“Without a doubt, they have the right to be frustrated when we’re slumping the way we are these last two weeks. At the same time, I’m excited to go forward and hopefully they’re excited to see us turn this thing around.”

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Eagles waive DT Bruce Hector and DB Prince Smith

Eagles waive DT Bruce Hector and DB Prince Smith

The Eagles on Friday released two players, including a defensive tackle who played in 11 games over the last two years and a Philadelphia native trying to make the team as an undrafted rookie.

The moves, along with the additions of Vinny Curry and Marcus Green, leave the roster right at the 80-man training camp limit.

The team released defensive tackle Bruce Hector and cornerback Prince Smith, an undrafted rookie who played at New Hampshire.

Hector originally made the Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent out of South Florida in 2018. He bounced up and down between the active roster and the practice squad three times and played in eight games, with 82 defensive snaps and 19 more on special teams. 

Hector, 25, was with the team in last year’s preseason but was traded on Aug. 22 to the Cards in exchange for safety Rudy Ford. But when the Cards released him nine days later, he rejoined the Eagles on Sept. 1 on the practice squad. 

He had two more stints on the practice squad and two on the active roster last year, playing 53 defensive snaps and 20 special teams snaps in three games. He was active for the Seattle playoff game and got five defensive snaps and seven on special teams.

After cutting ties with Hector, the Eagles have six defensive tackles remaining on the roster - Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway and Anthony Rush, who were all with the team last year, Steelers free agent Javon Hargrave and undrafted rookie Raequan Williams.

Smith grew up in Philadelphia and played high school football at Imhotep Institute Charter in West Oak Lane. He signed with the Eagles on April 30, just after the draft.

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How does Zach Ertz rank himself compared to Kittle and Kelce?

How does Zach Ertz rank himself compared to Kittle and Kelce?

His Madden rating dropped. His ranking among the top 100 NFL players plunged. He didn’t make all-pro. He caught 28 fewer passes than a year before.
 
Zach Ertz, who has more catches than any tight end in NFL history after seven seasons, is largely seen as No. 3 in the league these days behind George Kittle and Travis Kelce. 
 
Ertz laughs about all of it, and if there’s a sense he’s declining as a player, he sure doesn’t share it. Neither do the numbers.
 
“I do consider myself in that upper echelon of guys, in that same tier with all those guys,” he said on a Zoom call Friday. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but I think a lot of guys in this building feel the same way about me. I’m never in the business of comparing people. I think all three of us are at the top of our games, and I think we’re all perfect in the offense that we play in, honestly. I think we all have unique skill sets. We’re all very different, with some similarities. But overall I don’t think my game is any less than any of their games.”
 
Kelce is an incredible down-field threat. Kittle is a remarkable blocker. But Ertz just keeps putting together Pro Bowl season after Pro Bowl season.
 
And in the two years that Kelce, Ertz and Kittle have all been regular starting tight ends, Ertz has more catches than either of them.
 
You can argue that Kittle or Kelce is the best tight end in football, but you can’t argue with Ertz’s seven-year body of work.

It's unprecedented.
 
It includes the biggest 4th-down conversion in Super Bowl history, a 4th-quarter game-winning catch in the Super Bowl, an NFL-record 116 catches in 2018. 
 
He’s one of only four tight ends with six straight 700-yard seasons and one of only three with five straight 70-catch seasons.
 
He’s not even 30 yet, but he’s already 13th in NFL history among tight ends with 525 catches.
 
Just 68 catches out of 8th.
 
“The goal when I was a rookie was to (be) in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “I sat with my trainer growing up training for the combine and he said, ‘What are your goals when you get into the NFL?’ And I said, ‘I want to be a 1st-round draft pick and I want to go to the Hall of Fame.’ Unfortunately, I was not a 1st-round draft pick - three picks later - but I came to the best situation for me here in Philly. But the Hall of Fame goal is always something that I’ve strived for.”
 
Every eligible tight end that’s caught 600 passes is in the Hall of Fame. 
 
Ertz is 75 short, and he’s 29.
 
Four more seasons averaging 75 catches puts him behind only Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez. Pending what Kelce does.
 
“You talk about accomplishments, you talk about progress, it’s never something in my opinion you look at as you’re playing,” Ertz said. “It’s always the next season. How can you become a better football  player, how can I become a better teammate? Even when we won the Super Bowl, that next offseason my mentality didn’t change and I broke the record for catches. My mentality didn’t change. It’s always, ‘How can I be better this year than I was last year?’"
 
“I feel the best I ever have going into Year 8. I don’t think I’m slowing down by any means. Doug and my tight ends coach (Jason Peelle) said last year was my best year as a pro that they’ve seen. So overall I’m excited with where I’m at. The end goal will never change. I’m just fortunate and blessed to even have my name in those conversations this early in my career.”
 
What about his contract?
 
Ertz has two years left at $6.6 million this year and $8.25 million next year. What if the Eagles get into cap trouble? What if Dallas Goedert continues to establish himself as an NFL top-10 tight end? What if Kittle’s forthcoming deal redefines tight end salaries?
 
Who knows what the future holds, but Ertz is clear about one thing.
 
“From the moment I got here as a rookie … my goal was to be like Kobe Bryant or Jason Witten, play for one organization their entire careers,” he said. “I’ve made that known. I’ll let my agent and Howie (Roseman) handle the rest, but I know for sure I want to be here the rest of my career.”

Is he Kittle? Nope.

Is he Kelce? Nah.

But he's Zach Ertz, and that should be good enough for every Eagles fan.

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