Carson Wentz is right: He has to be better

Carson Wentz is right: He has to be better

Carson Wentz said it around a half dozen times about several topics during his 8 1/2 minute postgame press conference following Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Patriots.

“I have to be better.”

He’s right.

Sure, Wentz went into Sunday’s game without Jordan Howard and without Alshon Jeffery. Then it certainly hurt to lose Lane Johnson in the second quarter. And, overall, his teammates aren’t giving him enough help.

But forget all those excuses for a second. Wentz is right. He needs to be better. He certainly needed to be better on Sunday.

Sometimes the franchise quarterback has to put the team on his back and win a tough game. Wentz had that chance on Sunday night and he didn’t come through.

Even after all their offensive pitfalls on Sunday, Wentz was able to lead the Eagles’ offense down the field late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game. The Eagles began a drive at their own 6-yard line and got all the way to the New England 26.

That’s where the drive stalled.

Down seven points, the Eagles had a 1st-and-10 from the Patriots’ 26-yard line with 1:18 left on the clock and Wentz threw four straight incompletions. By the time the Eagles got the ball back, the game was basically over.

“I have to be better in those situations,” Wentz said. “I have to be better and give them a chance. They made a couple of good plays on the other ones. Like I said, it’s frustrating to be right there and fail to execute four straight times.”

On first down, Wentz overthrew Zach Ertz. On second down, he soared a ball over Nelson Agholor in the flat. On third down, he missed Ertz again. On fourth down, he threw an impressive deep ball into the end zone that Agholor couldn’t pull in.

Ertz had caught every ball thrown his way on Sunday night until this crucial drive. And then that normally reliable connection failed the Eagles at the worst possible moment. One was just a bad throw from Wentz. On the other, Ertz had an option route and explained he should have been more “definitive” for Wentz.

“There are two definitely to Ertz that I think we both want to have back,” Wentz said. “We just weren’t on the same page a little bit. And one I definitely missed.”

While his teammates didn’t give him a ton of help, Wentz missed far too often against the Patriots.

Wentz on Sunday completed just 20 of 40 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked five times — on some of them he held the ball too long — and also lost a fumble.

“I have to get rid of the ball,” Wentz said. “They had some good coverages and stuff, but I have to get rid of the ball and be better with that.”

His 50 percent completion percentage against the Patriots tied his single-game NFL low. (He completed 11 of 22 passes against Washington in Week 6 of his rookie season.)

While Wentz definitely made some great plays on Sunday — like the first play of the penultimate drive, when he escaped pressure and hit J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for a big gain — he wasn’t consistent enough.

Now, this doesn’t have to devolve the way most debates around Wentz usually do. It’s possible to criticize Wentz’s performance on Sunday without saying he’s not a franchise quarterback. It’s possible to criticize Wentz’s performance without mentioning a certain former Eagles quarterback who helped win the Super Bowl a couple years ago.

But it’s also completely fair to expect more out of Wentz.

On Sunday night, Wentz spoke at the lectern in the bowels of Lincoln Financial Field wearing a camouflage sport coat, but it certainly didn’t help him disappear.  All eyes are always on No. 11.

I give Wentz credit for owning his mistakes on Sunday. He could have passed off blame to a lack of weapons or a lack of protection or a lack of production from the guys around him. None of that would have been wrong.

But Wentz was right. He needs to be better. And it’s fair for us to agree with him.

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Greg Ward is the receiver Malcolm Jenkins wanted all along

Greg Ward is the receiver Malcolm Jenkins wanted all along

While the Eagles were busy trying to cobble together a wide receiver corps with Mack Hollins and Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Jenkins was campaigning for somebody else to get a shot.

Greg Ward.

“I’ve been calling for him to get called up to the active roster since training camp,” Jenkins said Thursday.

Nobody listened.

Instead, Ward spent nine of the first 10 weeks of the season on the practice squad. The one week he was on the active roster, against the Lions, he only got two snaps on offense. 

Then it was back to the practice squad.

Once Ward finally landed on the 53-man roster for good and actually got a chance to play and the Eagles saw what he could do, the Eagles released both Hollins and Matthews in the span of nine days.

Hollins played 473 snaps and had 10 catches in 11 games. That's a catch every 47.3 snaps.

Matthews played 137 snaps and had four catches in two games. That's a catch every 34.3 snaps.

Ward has played 145 snaps in three games and already has 11 receptions. That's a catch every 13.2 snaps.

Ward's eight-yard catch in overtime Monday night got the Eagles down to the two-yard-line, setting up Carson Wentz's game-winning TD pass to Zach Ertz.

How did the Eagles not realize for 2 1/2 months that Ward was a better option than Hollins or Matthews?

It’s not like he’s new here. Ward was on the practice squad all year in 2017 and in training camp in 2018 as well before leading the ill-fated AAF in receiving.

Boston Scott, Josh Perkins and Ward, who were all on the practice squad for a good chunk of this season, had 15 catches for 140 yards (and 59 rushing yards and a TD) in the Eagles’ win over the Giants.

Hollins? Hasn't caught a pass since September. 

Matthews? He's back with the 49ers, who've already cut him twice this year (without a catch).

Scott, like Ward, was buried on the depth chart while the Eagles went out and got Jay Ajayi, who is averaging 3.0 yards on 10 carries. Not until Miles Sanders had to leave the game briefly Monday night did the Eagles finally let Scott play. And that was the last we saw of Ajayi.

On the one hand, it’s good that these practice squad guys are contributing because it shows that the Eagles at least liked them enough to sign them and keep them around.

But why they stuck with guys like Ajayi, Hollins and Matthews for so long before finally letting Scott, Perkins and Ward play remains a mystery.

How could they not tell they could play?

“Not necessarily surprised because we see it every day,” Jenkins said. “These are guys who make us better and challenge us. I’m just excited to see them, No. 1, have the opportunity but to take full advantage of it and really help us get a win. I don’t think we get the win without them. To see them get the opportunity, I’m definitely proud.

“It does create some energy when you see them make plays. When guys you expect to make plays make plays, it’s one thing. But all of a sudden you have Perkins and Boston and G. Ward making plays, it adds a little juice to the team.” 

You just have to wonder why it took so long for them to even get the opportunity to add a little juice to the team.

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Kamu Grugier-Hill admits to lying about concussion to stay in game

Kamu Grugier-Hill admits to lying about concussion to stay in game

Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill on Thursday admitted that when he suffered his concussion in Miami two weeks ago, he lied to medical personnel to stay in the game.

He told them he hurt his shoulder.

“I just basically lied to them,” Grugier-Hill said. “I thought it would just go away. Just didn’t really say anything about it. It got to the point where I really couldn’t lie to them anymore.”

The concussion happened on the first play from scrimmage in the game against the Dolphins, when the starting linebacker collided with receiver DeVante Parker. That means he played a total of 54 combined defensive and special teams snaps with a concussion that game.

Eventually, when the headaches didn’t subside, Grugier-Hill reported the concussion symptoms to trainers on Thursday, four days after the head shot. He was put in the NFL’s concussion protocol and missed the Giants game. He has since been cleared and will return to action in Washington this weekend.

Grugier-Hill, 25, said he had never had a concussion before and didn’t know exactly what it felt like. Last week, head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles encourage all their players to report concussion symptoms and self police.

Does Grugier-Hil regret his decision?

“No,” he said. “I mean, I wish we would have at least got a win.”

There’s no questioning Grugier-Hill’s loyalty but lying to medical staff about a brain injury is nothing to be praised; it’s dangerous. But at least Grugier-Hill was honest about his decision — plenty of players aren’t.

And this certainly wasn’t the first time — nor will it be the last — that a player decides to stay in a game even though they know they might be concussed.

Back in 2015, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins admitted he played through more than an entire half against the Cowboys with a concussion. After eventually getting through the protocol, Jenkins said he felt “foggy” for the entire second half.

That’s the hole in the NFL’s concussion policy. The league has concussion spotters in the press box at every game and has made strides to prevent and detect these head injuries earlier, but players are still willing to put their long-term health on the line to stay in games. And Eagles medical personnel can’t treat a concussion they don’t know exists. It’s a hard problem to fix.

As far as the league has come, concussions are still far too normalized in the sport.

“I think it’s just part of the game,” Grugier-Hill said. “You get rocked a little bit every once in a while.”

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