The only Bird to feel more heat than Carson Wentz this Thanksgiving was the turkey in the oven.
Wentz has handled the heat considerably better.
“He does not let that affect him mentally,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “He continues to work in practice, work with his guys. He’s been great in the meetings. As they say sometimes, iron can sharpen iron. This is one of those situations where he gets sharper. He lasers in, focuses on his job and helping our team win.”
This is probably the most criticism Wentz has faced during his four years in the NFL. In 2016, he was a rookie, so he was kind of given a pass. In 2017, he was playing at an MVP level before getting hurt. And in 2018, everyone was still living in the afterglow of the Super Bowl.
But expectations were high in 2019. And while injuries have really hurt the offense, Wentz hasn’t returned to MVP-candidate form. Right now, he’s coming off one of the worst games in his career.
Against the Seahawks, Wentz missed open targets, took bad sacks and turned the ball over as the Eagles fell to 5-6 on the season.
Even if you haven’t been listening to sports talk radio, you know what’s being said. You know how critical — some of it warranted, some of it not — folks are being of Wentz. And the franchise quarterback was likely a hot topic of conversation around your Thanksgiving dinner table on Thursday.
Through it all, it seems like Wentz is holding up very well. On Wednesday, he proclaimed his confidence in turning the season around. He claimed he was just focused on keeping his even keel.
Pederson said there are a few ways he knows if outside criticism is bothering a player. One can be a tip, somebody saying Player X is reading too much. Or sometimes a player’s body language in the building and at practice gives him an indication that their focus is wavering.
He hasn’t seen those things with Wentz.
And it’s a trait the Eagles probably noticed early on with Wentz, even when they were scouting him out of North Dakota State.
“Well, you never really know until you’re in it,” Pederson said. “But it is part of his chemistry and his makeup and that’s what we really appreciate about him and his leadership and how well you can block … it’s no different than a game. You go into a game and something negative happens in a game, you just have to go to the next play. It’s no different. You just gotta block it out the best you can and move on to the next play.”
Any starting quarterback in Philadelphia is going to be under a lot of pressure, but Wentz is under even more than usual. He’s the franchise quarterback, who watched his backup win the Super Bowl and then got paid $100 million.
The heat is on Wentz right now. The good news is it appears he’s far from cooked.
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