It’s probably not fair, but it’s probably not going away either.
Carson Wentz knows it too.
Even though Wentz is clearly the Eagles’ franchise quarterback, even though the team took him at No. 2 overall just a few years ago and even though he was playing at an MVP level in his second NFL season, the comparisons to Nick Foles aren’t going to stop.
Within the framing of the PhillyVoice piece that painted Wentz as a selfish teammate, the comparison showed up too. This time it wasn’t necessarily about their play, but their personalities: everyone likes Foles, not everyone likes Wentz, to oversimplify the gist of that story.
During his interview with a handful of select reporters last week, Wentz addressed that inevitable comparison with Foles.
Again, it’s something there’s nothing you can do about it. For one, I love Nick. Nick and I are great friends and strong believers and we have the same values and everything. We’ll be the first to say that we are different. Like how we go about our days. I’ve learned some things from him. I know he’s learned some things from me. But we’d be the first to say our personalities are kind of different. But that’s why I think we were such good friends to some extent as well. And so, that’s off-topic a little bit but that stuff, I can’t worry about that.
That so-called shadow or whatever you want to call it, I can’t let that bother me. I know what I’m capable of on the field. I know what I’ve done in the past, and I know where I envision this team going. And so, I don’t really worry about what’s happened in the past — the shadow, the pressure, the stress. There’s plenty of it. Whether that’s from living in, quote, that shadow or whatever, there’s plenty of stress and pressure here that you try and block out as much as you can.
Foles is a folk hero in Philadelphia. There’s nothing Wentz can do about that now. Imagine being a franchise quarterback but the other guy has a statue out front of the stadium. It can’t be easy.
Just after the playoff loss to the Saints, speaking for the first time since going down with a stress fracture in his back, Wentz even admitted Foles’ success could put more pressure on him (see story). There’s really no avoiding that. There’s a large group of fans in this city who would very much prefer the Eagles keep Foles instead of Wentz. That’s just not going to happen.
But at some point, Wentz is going to make a bad throw, have a bad series or a bad game. Those things are unavoidable and it seems likely the Foles comparison will pop up again in those instances, especially if Foles goes elsewhere and has success.
This has been a unique situation for over a year now. We’ve said it a million times, but it really is a testament to Wentz and Foles that it worked for as long as it did. Maybe Wentz can be selfish at times, but there’s no question in my mind he was happy when Foles found success, the same way Foles was happy for Wentz.
During a season in which he came off of an ACL tear and suffered a back fracture, Wentz actually improved his passer rating from an MVP-level season in 2017. He threw 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions and still wasn’t anywhere near the level we’ve seen him play before. That’s been lost on many. Foles is a hero, after all.
But, ultimately, Wentz is right. He can’t worry about it. I don’t know what it’s going to take for him to escape that shadow — an MVP, a couple MVPs, is another parade the only thing that does it? — but I do think he has all the talent and mental fortitude to persevere and still become the best quarterback in franchise history.
It’s just not going to happen overnight. So even when Foles leaves Philadelphia, his shadow won’t.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.