Photo Source: Robert Deutsch - USA Today Sports
Watching the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles led by Quarterback Carson Wentz has led me to feel indifferent towards them. It's not worth getting upset over a team that just isn't good. There are several factors that have contributed to the Eagles being bad; substandard draft classes, inconsistent coaching, terrible injury luck, etc. However, I believe that the primary reason for the Eagles' poor play is QB Carson Wentz's regression into one of the worst QBs in the league.
The year was 2017. I was a sophomore living on the beautiful campus of Central Connecticut State University. On one particularly bright September Sunday, the Eagles SuperBowl season began with a game against Washington. Like a kid on their very first snow day, I distinctly remember Wentz throwing an absolute missile to Nelson Algholor for the opening touchdown. I was excited, happy, and hopeful for a future in which I got to watch Wentz drop bombs like that every week. For thirteen weeks I watched a single-player energize a fanbase in ways I never thought possible. When, against the LA Rams, Wentz tore his ACL, I was obviously distraught. But, I had faith that he would be able to return to form in 2018. I, like every Eagles fan, was ready to embrace the seemingly bright future with an MVP caliber QB at the helm. We were all smitten.
The Issues Become Amplified:
In my mind, the defining characteristic of Philly fans is their passion. If you're a bad player, we'll let you know by making that loud and clear. If you're a good or beloved player, we'll defend you and any mistakes made as if our own reputations are on the line. Many may not see Philly fans this way, but I truly believe that there isn't a more loyal fan base. It's this loyalty that can sometimes shadow a player's true ability from fans. I believe that this is the case with Carson Wentz.
Since his season-ending injury in 2017, Carson hasn't had the same magic that he had during that Superbowl season. In 2018 & 2019, Eagles fans made plenty of excuses for this drop in performance, and for good reasons! In both of those years, Carson was plagued by injuries both to himself and his entire supporting cast, and although he wasn't as good as he was before, he was good enough.
However, the rose-colored glasses with which Philly fans viewed Wentz began to dim. Anonymous player reports began to surface that Wentz was an ineffective, uncaring, and selfish leader who didn't like to be challenged. Players who had played with Wentz and were no longer with the Eagles also began to criticize him. Wentz's entire persona and work ethic fell into question.
His stats weren't helping his case either. In 2017, Carson Wentz posted the highest QBR rating of all eligible quarterbacks, even with missing the last three games of the season. Yet, his rating dropped to outside the top 10 for both the 2018 & 2019 season. Concerns about his character and a drop in efficiency were some of the first warning signs that presented themselves to Eagles fans.
Why weren't the early warning signs taken more seriously? Because of loyalty. Sure, there was noise coming from within the organization about the issues surrounding Wentz, but the majority of it was coming from the outside. Media personalities like Max Kellerman had some of his most viral moments publicly roasting Wentz, even when he was playing good. Eagles fans watched as Wentz became the but end of seemingly every joke within their group of friends. Strangers on social media found delight in harassing the QB and his supporters. In one instance, someone made a Twitter and Instagram account dedicated to commenting a negative stat line about Wentz to every Eagles fan out there.
All of the outside noise made fans want to ignore the inside noise. Wentz was an Eagle, and all of the outside hate just made us love the guy even more. Everything that could go wrong for Wentz was going wrong, he just needed something to go his way so that he could reset to his 2017 version. Well, that something happened in 2019 when the unimaginative Offensive Coordinator, Mike Groh, was fired and the Eagles finally drafted a dynamic Wide Receiver in Jalen Reagor. Heading into his fifth year in the league, Wentz was primed to return to his 2017 version.
It's hard to overstate just how bad Wentz has been in 2020. Even without the painful eye test, Wentz is ranked at the very bottom of nearly every conceivable statistic that aims to measure QB efficiency. My colleague & fellow BBB writer, Jordan Laube, recently posted an article detailing Wentz's' historic decline in play. So, I went get too deep into that here. But, I do want to mention that Wentz's 2020 performance has left him with his lowest QBR rating since entering the league, the highest number of interceptions in the league, and the highest number of sacks taken (46!) by a country mile.
This was supposed to be the season Wentz returned to form, but it hasn't happened. He's regressed beyond anyone's wildest imagination and fans are tired of the excuses. Not to say, that the excuses aren't there. The offense is unimaginative (but before you put all the blame on the head coach, Doug Pederson, remember that Wentz reportedly has a major influence on schemes). The O-line is terrible. The Eagles's receivers are underperforming. Nothing is working well around Wentz. But here's the thing; when you're getting paid, on average, $40 million dollars a year, you're supposed to be the guy that hides some of those deficiencies. Not only has Carson not made this bad team better, he's made this bad team steadily worse.
Loyalty for people only goes so far, and despite Philadelphia being one of the most loyal fan bases in the country, I think time has all but nearly run out for Wentz.
For cap reasons, no matter what, Wentz will be on the Eagles roster next year. If the Eagles were to cut him in 2021, they would face a dead cap hit of $59 Million dollars. If they traded him, this hit will still be a very high $34 million dollar hit. So if you can't get rid of him, what's the solution?
After losing on Monday night football to the Seattle Seahawks, and with only five games left for this team, I think it's time for the Eagles bench Wentz. This accomplishes two goals. First, you get to see what you have in second-round draft pick, Jalen Hurts. If Hurts plays well, then that makes the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft much easier for you because you can find a receiver that might mesh well with him. Secondly, if you still think Wentz is the guy, benching him for Hurts will hopefully light a fire inside of Carson. A move like this isn't unprecedented for the Eagles. In 2008, starting Eagles QB, Donovan McNabb was playing some of the worst football of his career. After starting a game against the Ravens with two picks, then head coach Andy Reid, benched McNabb for his backup. What'd McNabb do in response? Go off. Mcnabb started the next game and had one of his best offensive performances of his career, throwing for four touchdowns. The hope is that benching Wentz would ignite this same drive and he'd be better for next season.
I don't have all the answers for the Eagles, no one does. But, myself and all of Philadelphia, know that something needs to be done about Carson Wentz. Keeping the status quo isn't going to work any longer.
I just wanted to take a quick second and apologize to the readers for not posting as frequently as I had been. Some personal reasons and grad school being well... grad school, has made it hard to find the time to write recently. However, I expect some of that to change soon, so hopefully, I can bring you more opinions and news about Philly Sports. Thank You all for being patient.
P.S. - If you haven't read Jordan Laube's article about Wentz, I implore you to go ahead and do so. It's really well written and you'll learn a ton.