The Eagles might try to fix Carson Wentz but on Saturday morning we got a better sense of how deep some of the issues between him and the organization go.
A report from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane surfaced that again brought into question Wentz’s coachability and his accountability, two themes that were at the forefront of a PhillyVoice story after the 2018 season.
Where there’s smoke, there’s often fire.
Some of the details of this latest report are concerning, although not at all surprising. In recent weeks we learned of the deteriorating relationship between Wentz and former head coach Doug Pederson. And there have long been concerns about Wentz’s inability to take criticism, apply coaching and even accept blame for failures.
The report on Saturday didn’t necessarily bring a lot of these issues to light, but it certainly confirmed them with troubling detail.
Here are a few particularly concerning passages directly from the story and some thoughts on each passage:
- There was a disconnect even before Wentz was benched, though. Pederson would call a play only for his quarterback to occasionally kill it for no other reason than his personal distaste, sources said. It became “a pissing match” between the two, one of the sources said.
My take: This, to me, was the most troubling part of the entire report. Of course, this is just opinion from those sources. If true, though, it’s damning. Because it’s one thing to disagree with a coach and to push back against scheme or play calls, but it’s another to essentially go rogue. That’s a level of insubordination that is tough to come back from. You simply can’t have a quarterback making calls out of spite. The only person who really knows if this is the case is Wentz himself, but you’d really hope it isn’t. I don’t know how, if the organization believes this to be true, he can be their quarterback in 2021.
- Wentz’s Type-A personality could be credited just as much for his past success. Many top quarterbacks share the same trait. But the 28-year-old had increasingly rebuffed advice, defied criticism, and clashed with former coach Doug Pederson last season, Eagles sources said.
“Every great quarterback wants to be coached and they want to be coached hard and by the best, and it doesn’t seem like [Wentz] wants that,” one source said. “It’s kind of like whoever’s coaching him is working for him. But it can’t be that way.”
My take: Here’s that Type-A personality again. Jeff’s right about it being a big part of Wentz’s success, but it was also a huge part of why they initially identified him as their franchise quarterback during the pre-draft process in 2016. They liked his confidence, his ability to take command of a situation and a room. But Wentz’s inability to take coaching has been well-documented and there have been legitimate fears about whether or not Press Taylor was the right man for the job, especially with this particular quarterback.
Wentz is a player who has had success at every level and it takes a level of humility to be willing to get better. It’s fair to question if he has that. This idea kind of goes with the next part.
- Wentz does want to win. He is tireless. He is dedicated. No one publicly has ever suggested otherwise, and the same seemingly holds privately. But his resistance to hard instruction made him lose faith from coaches and an unwillingness to accept blame for his mistakes hurt him in the locker room.
“He doesn’t understand that he lost games for us,” a veteran player said. “He will never admit that and that’s a problem because he can’t get it corrected.”
My take: The reason the lack of accountability and the refusal to take coaching go together is simple: If you don’t think you’re the problem, why would you try to change? The lack of accountability, at least publicly, is something that I remember being concerned about dating back to Wentz’s rookie season. That team was improving but it wasn’t very good. I remember a lot of “we” talk from Wentz that year. It was always “we” as an offense weren’t good enough. Eventually, throughout the years, he’s been more willing to say he wasn’t good enough individually. And he had no choice but to do that in 2020 as he was turning the ball over an NFL-leading pace. But you have always been able to see the hesitance from Wentz to accept blame. Sometimes a quarterback has to stand at a microphone (or in front of his teammates) and say, “That’s on me. I wasn’t good enough. I’m the reason we lost. I have to get better.” We haven’t seen that enough from 11.
- Around the break, one offensive lineman had gone to management and requested a switch to Hurts.
My take: My guess is that if an offensive lineman went to management, it was someone with a little clout. I’ll let you take your own guesses, but I don’t think it was Sua Opeta banging down Howie Roseman’s door. And, honestly, I can’t blame an offensive lineman getting frustrated by Wentz in 2020. There were far too many times he made them look bad because his sense of the pocket was completely lost.
- Pederson made the call on his own, according to a source familiar with his thinking, without input from Lurie or Roseman. He said as much publicly and there was some skepticism. But after he was benched, Wentz went to the owner and GM to voice his frustration, a team source said.
My take: This isn’t a good look for Wentz. This kind of reminds me of DeMarco Murray’s plane ride next to Jeff Lurie in 2015. And if Wentz is mad at Pederson for benching him in Week 13, that’s outrageous. There was a case to be made that Pederson should have benched him long before that and actually did Wentz a favor by waiting that long. For what it’s worth, it does seem like Wentz ultimately handled his benching like a professional.
Overall, the fact that most of these details don’t really surprise me isn’t a good sign. It shows how bad things have gotten with Wentz and the organization over time and it’s really fair to wonder if the Eagles will — or even should — try to make it work with Wentz.
I think a lot of that decision will be based around the new head coach and the organization’s faith in that person to fix Wentz. But a lot of this is clearly on Wentz. If he decides he doesn’t want to be here anymore, then it probably behooves the Eagles to cut their losses and trade him. Because Wentz needs to be all-in and he needs to take some responsibility in his failures and also in the process it’s going to take to get him back to playing at a high level.
There’s still a talented quarterback in there somewhere. Maybe the MVP candidate from 2017 is long gone, but I still think Wentz can get back to playing at a high level in the NFL. The question really becomes: Is it going to be in Philly or somewhere else?
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