Yesterday a report came out that – as the article puts it – paints Wentz as “selfish,” “uncompromising,” and “playing favorites.” This is obviously very problematic for the organization and Carson’s image. After the report came out, some very prominent Eagles players came to his defense publicly. Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Nate Sudfeld, and Fletcher Cox are among some of the teammates who have spoken out, and even ex-teammates such as Torrey Smith have offered support.
The others posts had a similar sentiment. They all praised Wentz as both a leader and a teammate. That doesn’t mean the report doesn’t hold some semblance of truth though.
The article, posted by PhillyVoice, claims that Wentz “bullied” offensive coordinator Mike Groh. The report stated that Wentz is not “universally loved” like Nick Foles is in the Eagles locker room. The sources in the story paint, or are at least used to paint, a picture that plants the offensive issues this season on Carson Wentz’s shoulders. The author, Joseph Santoliquito, points to few different areas Carson was particularly at blame. The sources are quoted as saying that Wentz overcomplicated the offense instead of letting the offense dictate what he should do, as Foles apparently did. This led to Wentz taking unnecessary sacks or throwing interceptions. They credit the Jordan Matthews signing to him being “a buddy” of Wentz, and that Wentz would play favorites when over-targeting Zach Ertz.
Where Have We Heard That Before?
A lot of these issues have at some point or another come up already in Carson’s career. At the end of last season, the previous OC Frank Reich said that when telling Carson to avoid contact, “it definitely went in one ear and out the other early on.” It’s been reported before that Wentz would argue with Reich on play calling, but nothing out of the ordinary or alarming like this. The over-targeting Zach Ertz thing certainly seems like it had legs, but Foles targeted Ertz almost equally as much per game (9.63 targets per game with Wentz versus 9.28 with Foles). Jordan Matthews might be a “buddy” of Wentz, but he was also familiar with the offense and the QB at a time when the Eagles desperately needed someone they could plug in there.
When it comes to deviating from the play and taking sacks, Jason Peters has a quote from earlier this season that fits that bill.
“Right now, we’re kind of struggling at offensive line because we have to block longer,” said Peters postgame. “We have a quarterback that’s coming off an injury and he wants to make a play. We just have to block longer for him to make the play.”
As you can see, a lot of the issues the article mentions have been at least touched on in the past. It’s not hard to see that the Eagles have a well put together and cohesive locker room. If there was an internal issue with Wentz and the offense, it’s not surprising at all that it would stay internal for most of the season and only come out through anonymous sources. The issue with anonymous sources and this article though, is that the context of these quotes are missing.
How Much of the Report Should We Believe?
A lot of what was reported is likely true. Wentz looked like he came back less than 100%, and that showed particularly in his mobility. He held onto the ball too long trying to make a play. Based on previous reports, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear that he’s arguing with the OC. None of the events or instances the report mentions are surprising, but what is is the framing of Carson Wentz.
A season ago Carson was compared to Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Up until this point, his image was crystal clear. Here’s the thing though, how many great QB’s have had similar tendencies to the ones described about Wentz? Aaron Rodgers played all season banged up. Peyton Manning took a lot of liberty at the line with audibles. Brett Favre held onto the ball all day with hopes to make a play. Tom Brady argues with his coaches and teammates on the sideline. That is not to excuse Carson for it, because it clearly did not have the results this season that he was expecting. It does however sound rather similar to how other “alpha” leaders have done things in the past.
In Carson’s second season he led an 11-2 football team while up until that point being the favorite to win MVP. This past year was only his third season, and he played while hurt. It’s easy for us to forget that Wentz, despite his immense talent, is not a finished product yet. He is still prone to make mistakes. He may have been compared to all-time great QB’s, but those guys didn’t become who they were overnight. Neither will Wentz, but there is a good chance based on what we’ve seen that he will eventually.
How the Eagles Should Move Forward
So what do we make of it? It’s alarming that someone on the team was concerned enough to talk. Maybe they needed to vent about it and simply chose the wrong path to do so, but it’s clear that this will be a talking point leading up to next season. Is Wentz a “selfish” and “uncompromising” teammate? It doesn’t appear that way to me. To the numerous Eagles players who have come out to support Carson, it doesn’t appear that way to them either. Someone(s) in that locker room felt strongly enough to talk though. While their quotes may have been exaggerated or spun a certain way, it should prove as a wake up call to Wentz.
One thing I know is that these kinds of leaks and reports don’t happen often with the Eagles. That locker room seems as close knit as they come. Doug and the guys will address it, put it behind them, and move on. If you’re stuck contemplating where the exact truth is in this whole story, we likely won’t ever know. If I had to guess I’d say it’s somewhere between the reported article and the statements released by teammates. Rather than being selfish or uncompromising, odds are he’s a young leader who made a few mistakes. Most of which by the way probably stem from one mistake: coming back too soon from injury. It will be up to Carson to take that criticism and come back better (and healthy) next season.