Eagles

Carson Wentz responds to PhillyVoice hit piece: 'I can be selfish'

Carson Wentz responds to PhillyVoice hit piece: 'I can be selfish'

You have to give Carson Wentz a tremendous amount of credit for one thing.

He took what was essentially a one-sided, agenda-driven hit piece and instead of dismissing it, he decided to learn from it.

Wentz could have lashed out at the writer of the recent PhillyVoice piece. He could have lashed out at his anonymous teammates.

Nobody would have blamed him.

Instead, he made up his mind to confront himself honestly and take steps to become a better person and teammate.

"I know I'm not perfect," he said in a recent interview with half a dozen Eagles beat writers. "I know I have flaws. So I'm not going to sit here and say it was inaccurate and completely made up. I'm not going to do that."

Wentz said that while some anecdotes in the PhillyVoice story were factually inaccurate (see story), there's some truth in the characterizations of him as aloof, stubborn and selfish.

That's probably true of every NFL quarterback to an extent, but Wentz thought it was important to take whatever strands of truth were in the piece and grow from them.

I'll be straight up," Wentz said. "It hasn't been the easiest last year for me on the physical level, just battling the injuries, but then just personally going through it, sitting on the sideline and then playing and then sitting on the sideline again. So I realize like I maybe wasn't the greatest teammate at times because I was emotionally kind of all over the place. To the outside world, I probably didn't show it much. But internally, I mean, you're definitely fighting some sort of emotions. So there's things to learn just about how to handle myself in certain situations.

The reality is that all successful quarterbacks — all successful people — are probably hard-headed, want to do things their way and aren't universally liked.

The challenge for Wentz has been to determine whether his personality really is an issue in the locker room.

"It's never fun to read, but to an extent, you look at it and (think), 'Well, if someone did have this perception of me, why? What have I done wrong? What can I get better at?'" he said.

"I realize I have my shortcomings. Yes, I can be selfish. I think we all have selfishness inside of us."

It's important to note that the Carson Wentz who went 4-6 this past year while dealing with a balky knee and a broken bone in his back is the same guy who was worshipped in the locker room during his record-setting MVP-caliber 2017 season.

The number of teammates who came out in support of Wentz following the story's appearance speaks volumes.

And still, Wentz is mature enough to sort through all of this to figure out how it can make him a better person, a better teammate.

But during this conversation (see full transcript) we can't lose sight of just how successful Wentz has been:

• He's one of only six quarterbacks in NFL history with consecutive seasons of 20 or more TDs and single-digit interceptions.

• He's one of eight QBs in NFL history with back-to-back seasons with a passer rating over 100.

• His 70 touchdown passes are 5th-most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first 40 games. And none of the QBs with more has fewer interceptions.

So if he really does have some character flaws, they sure haven't limited him a whole lot.

Wentz said the reality is that he is who he is, and that's not going to change. 

I'm 26 years old," he said. "My personality, to some extent, ain't going to change. What's gotten me here, what's gotten me successful, I'm not going to say, 'Oh, now I'm going to have this free-spirited, Cali-guy vibe.' That's just not going to change. … Any time you're a Type-A guy, there's a fine line (between) being pushy and shovey and humble. And (learning to) walk that line. Definitely learning to navigate that and never trying to look down on anybody or make it seem like I'm better than anybody. But at the same time, as a Type-A, so-to-speak, confident person that's confident in off-the-field things and then on the field with what we like, that's not going to change. That's not going to go anywhere. I think that's something that is a positive if used correctly.

It would be impossible to find any NFL player that's liked by all 52 of his teammates. That's just the reality of 53 personalities in one room.

Wentz is a proven leader, overwhelmingly popular in the Eagles' locker room and one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the NFL.

And if he's got some things to work on? Join the club. So do all of us. 

The fact that he recognizes this and accepts it says a lot about what kind of leader he really is.

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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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