Carson Wentz: An Unfortunate Failure
A 2016 draft commodity, a raw talent out of the FCS Champion North Dakota State University, and a gifted athlete. A former MVP candidate and NFL star. One of the most efficient QBs when it comes to passing and decision making. Is this what comes to mind when you think of Carson Wentz? No. You probably think about the guy who lives in the shadow of Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, or the guy who is constantly injured, or the guy who takes easy sacks and turns the ball over at an alarming rate. Whichever way you dice it up, he has had signs of greatness, and stretches of mediocrity.
Carson Wentz was a late bloomer out of NDSU. He got minimal playing time his freshman and sophomore year. When he took over as the starter his junior year in 2014, where he shined and showed his capability to be an NFL quarterback. In 16 games, he had 3,111 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions. These numbers don't jump out at you, but his dual-threat ability is where he made his mark. That same season, he ran the ball for 642 yards and 6 TDs, while catching a 16 yard pass for a TD. He came back prepared for a strong senior season, only to be derailed by a wrist injury that sideline him for eight weeks. In 7 games, Carson threw for 1,651 yards, 17 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, a much better TD to INT ratio than the previous season. He dominated in the run game for a second year in a row with 294 yards and 6 TDs. After getting surgery on his wrist, he came back for the FCS Championship game. He had a rough game passing, hitting 16 of his 29 passes for 197 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. He did, however, have a great game running the ball, with 9 carries for 79 yards and 2 TDs. NDSU would go on to beat Jacksonville State 37-10, winning their 5th straight championship. Carson was awarded the MVP trophy for this game.
Photo: North Dakota State Athletics
Carson Wentz's name shot onto scouting radars with his massive size at 6'5" and 237 pounds. He wowed teams at the NFL Combine with a 4.77s 40 yard dash, while posting a 4.15s 20 yard shuttle, and 6.86s three cone drill time. His passing was on full display as well, but his Pro Day is where he really stood out. On all passes, Carson hit 62 out of 65 passes, including one drop in the red zone (per ESPN). With this incredible performance, his draft stock shot up from a mid-first round prospect, to a top 5 talent. About a week before the 2016 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles traded with the Cleveland Browns to move up to the 2nd overall pick in the draft. The Los Angeles Rams, who were also searching for a QB, traded with the Tennessee Titans for the 1st overall pick a week earlier. Knowing LA had their sites on University of California stud, Jared Goff, Philly had to make a move to get one of the most raw athletes in a decade. On draft night, that just happened. With the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams selected Jared Goff; just how the Eagles expected. Without hesitation, the Eagles put their pick in. With the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Carson Wentz.
In 2016, the Eagles brought in a few new faces along with Wentz. Doug Pederson, the former Kansas City Offensive Coordinator, took over as the Head Coach for the Eagles. He teamed up with Frank Reich, who was named the Offensive Coordinator for the Eagles that same season. Prior to Week 1, Carson Wentz won the job from Chase Daniel and was named the starter. Carson had a typical rookie season; he threw for 3,782 yards, 16 TDs and 14 INTs, while posting a quarterback rating of 79.3. He ran the ball effectively, tallying 146 yards and 2 TDs. He did lose 3 out of his 14 fumbles, for a total of 18 TDs and 17 turnovers on the year. The amount of total fumbles were disturbing, but then again, he was a rookie. Wentz went into the off season with a mission and brought it to the field in his sophomore season.
Carson had a pretty solid first four weeks, totaling 1,058 passing yards, 6 TDs, and only 2 INTs, obtaining a QBR of 90.5; while rushing for 97 yards and 0 TDs. The fumbles were still a concern, as he lost 1 out of 4 fumbles in four games. Once Week 5 came around, Wentz took off. Over the next four games, Wentz put up 1,005 passing yards, 13 TDs, 2 INTs, and a QBR of 115.5. He also ran for 106 yards, 0 TDs, and lost another fumble after fumbling 3 more times. Over his last five games, Wentz threw the ball for 1,233 yards, 14 TDs and 2 INTs, giving him a QBR of 102.3. He ran the ball for 96 yards and 0 TDs, while only fumbling the ball twice and losing it once.
Photo: Pasadena Star-News
In Week 14, against the Goff-led Los Angeles Rams, Wentz was having the best game of his career. Through three quarters, Wentz had 291 yards, 4 passing TDs, 1 INT, and a QBR of 100.8. With roughly 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Eagles were knocking on the door of the Rams. From the 1 yard line, Carson took the snap from All-Pro center Jason Kelce. After making his first two reads, Wentz scrambled to the right side and dove for the end zone. As he reached across the plane, Rams defensive end Morgan Fox and hybrid linebacker/safety Mark Barron came in and sandwiched Carson's legs between them. Wentz got up like it was a normal play and celebrated with his teammates. As he looked up, yellow flags scattered the field, and the play was brought back due to a holding penalty. Wentz remained in the game and thew a TD to Alshon Jeffery to end the drive. Wentz walked his way over to the sideline, where he was then escorted to the locker room. As he walked off, you could see his kneecap shifting from side to side. It was later revealed that he had a Grade 3 ACL and LCL tear, a complete tear of both ligaments. Nick Foles would take over and the rest is history. Foles led the Eagles to the Super Bowl and took down the defending champions, the New England Patriots. Wentz finished the season with 3,296 passing yards, 33 TDs, 7 INTs, and a QBR of 101.9, while fumbling 9 times and losing 3 of them. Carson was the clear cut MVP until this injury, and lost out on the award after missing the final three games. After this season, Frank Reich left for the Head Coaching job for the Indianapolis Colts. Mike Groh, who spent the previous season with the Rams, took over as the new Offensive Coordinator for the Eagles.
In 2018, Wentz missed two games in the beginning of the season as he recovered from his leg injury, and then missed the last three games with various back injuries. He played in 11 games, finishing with 3,074 passing yards, 21 TDs, 7 INTs, and a QBR of 102.2. He fumbled 9 times again, but lost 6 on the season. Nick Foles, who posted a playoff record of 4-1 in two seasons, would be awarded a big contract to become the Jacksonville Jaguars starting QB in 2019. Wentz rebounded in Year 4 and played his first healthy season since his rookie year. He finished with a career high 4,039 passing yards, 27 TDs, 7 INTs, and a QBR of 93.1. He fumbled 16 times, but lost only 7 on the year. He also became the first QB in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards and not have a single wide receiver eclipse 500 yards (tight end Zach Ertz had 916 yards). The Eagles reached the Wild Card round and played the Seattle Seahawks. In the first quarter, Wentz ran with the ball and took a nasty hit from Jadeveon Clowney. This sidelined him for the remainder of the game; the Eagles would go on to lose 17-9. After this season, Groh was relieved of his duties and moved on to Indianapolis. Pederson would take over play calling duties for the 2020 season.
Eleven weeks into the 2020 season, there are red flags all over Carson Wentz. He has played some of the worst football in his career and has not shown any flashes of greatness like he normally does. Through 10 games, Wentz has 2,326 passing yards, 14 TDs, 14 INTs (tied for his career high and most in the NFL this year), and a QBR of 73.3, the lowest mark of his career. He also has taken a whopping 40 sacks, which leads the NFL and is a career high. He has run the ball pretty well, totaling 216 yards and 5 TDs, however, he's fumbled the ball a league-leading 10 times and lost 4 of them. This gives him his worst TD to turnover ratio, 19 total TDs to 18 turnovers, since his rookie season.
Stat Source: Pro Football Reference
So, who is to blame for Wentz's struggles over the past few seasons? Here is a list of realities the Eagles have faced since Wentz was drafted:
3 different Offensive Coordinators in 5 seasons
Multiple injuries that sidelined him for multiple games
Starting offensive players constantly being hurt
The toughest schedule in the NFC East over the past five years
A subpar defense, especially the secondary
Are these reasons enough to keep trying with Wentz? In my opinion, no. You would expect more out of a 2nd overall draft choice. Russell Wilson, who has had one of the worst offensive lines the league over his career and minimal weapons until the last few seasons, has continued to dominate the league and be the best QB on a play by play basis. Oh, by the way, Wilson was a 3rd round draft choice who had to learn from Matt Flynn. Granted, Wentz learned from Chase Daniels, but Wentz was still the 2nd overall player taken in the draft. In addition, Wentz had a great offensive line from the start and got a great supporting cast throughout his career. Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, and Jason Peters are all Hall of Fame bound. In 2017, the Eagles added Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jay Ajayi, and LeGarrette Blount to their offense. Since then, they brought back DeSean Jackson, and added other studs like Miles Sanders and Golden Tate along the years. Wentz has also had one of the best tight ends over the past five years in Zach Ertz. Is Wentz completely to blame? No, but he should share the majority of it. Coaches don't throw the ball, quarterbacks do.
Something I should mention is that there is talk about Carson's mental health situation. If that truly is the case, then shame on me for showing judgment throughout this article. All of the factors above have had some impact on his mental health; it would be irresponsible of me to not mention a growing issue in this country, especially among men.
Eagles fans have defended Wentz for years, blaming the constant injuries to the offensive line and skill position groups, a lackluster defense, the shuffling of their offensive line, and the offensive schemes being adjusted. A big chunk of the Eagles failures rests on his shoulders, but there are smaller parts that are not his fault. With all of that said, he is a former 2nd overall pick; you expect a lot more out of a player with that caliber. Wentz, over 4 seasons, has never stayed healthy to finish or even play in a postseason game, which is also troublesome given his potential.
The Eagles are going to have to make some tough decisions over the next couple of seasons, especially if they cannot win the abysmal NFC East. Is Doug Pederson worth keeping around? Is Carson Wentz worth all of the $128 million he is being paid? We'll have to wait and see. If there is truly a mental health concern around Wentz, then he and the Eagles need to put their efforts towards helping their quarterback in that aspect. If Wentz can turn it around and Pederson can make better play calls, then it will all be worth it. If not, Wentz will go down as another bust and finish his career as a backup.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Have a safe and healthy holiday!