I used to play soccer in grade school. My team was pretty horrendous (myself definitely included). During one year, my final in grade school, we tied a game with the opposing team. Ties happen all the time, especially in soccer, you might say. To that I would laugh and respond: you didn’t know our team. Over the four years I had played, we had lost every single matchup that we played. Like I said, horrendous. But that day, we didn’t lose. For once, we had something to celebrate. However, when the 2017 Superbowl champions, supposed ‘next dynasty,’ Philadelphia Eagles tie a game with the worst team in football so far, there’s nothing to celebrate.
As if 2020 couldn’t get any worse, Philadelphia fans have all sorts of questions to face. The largest and most astounding is if the Eagles will land the number one draft pick this season. Call that an overreaction, but the stats may very well prove it be a legitimate concern. Philly just tied to the AFC’s version of the Washington Football team (ya know, the team we also couldn’t beat?). Both of these teams are among the bottom of their respective conferences not only in record but also in talent and coaching. If the Eagles were a playoff contender, these two games just don’t happen. If Doug Pederson is the coach we remember from years past, these games end in a victory. However ugly it may have been, he finds a way. If Carson Wentz is the 128 million dollar man this franchise believes in, these games should have been blowouts in favor of the birds. The list of sheer disappointment could go on, but this fact has become crystal clear: change is necessary.
The game started out alright with the defense forcing Joe Burrow and company to punt. Then Wentz threw an interception, and all hell broke loose. The game would eventually fall back in favor of Philly 13-10 until the Bengals scored a touchdown to take the lead following halftime. Wentz and the birds struggled as the quarterback threw two interceptions and dealt with the loss of DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert. As for the defense, the pass rush took advantage of a porous offensive line to rack up eight sacks. However, the linebacker corps reminded us of their own porosity alongside an injured secondary, which lost Avonte Maddox. The game ended after being sent to overtime, which saw Jake Elliott set up for a long field goal, only to be negated by a false start. The fourth-and-12 play went from a field goal attempt to a punt by an uncharacteristically conservative Pederson. The score: 23 all.
If you were left screaming your head off at your fifth-year quarterback not seeing a middle linebacker and proceeding to throw right to him on the first offensive drive of the game, you were not alone. Wentz has become a tragedy for Eagles fans, and he is not offering any glimpse of hope to say otherwise. From his awkward footwork to his terrible mechanics, he is regressing at a rapid pace. The exact reason for this is not 100% clear. Is it a lack of accountability by Wentz? Too much of a hands-off approach by Pederson and the offensive coaches? Arrogance? Laziness? Stupidity? Bad juju? It’s truly anyone’s guess at this point what’s wrong with Wentz, but the face of the Eagles franchise is folding faster than you can say “Wentz is better than Nick Foles.”
Speaking of quarterback comparisons, while Wentz was busy imploding at the hands of the lowly Bengals, former Eagle hero Foles was spearheading a seemingly improbable comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. Foles came off the bench (as he seems to do so well) and replaced a disgraced Mitch Trubisky, who had pinned his team down multiple scores in what looked like a surefire victory for the Falcons. Then again, nothing can truly be considered a ‘surefire’ win for Falcons fans nowadays. (If you’re a Falcons fan, I’m so sorry.)
Foles threw an interception early in his time on the field but quickly shook it off and carried the Bears to the win, thus providing an arsenal of weaponry to those who called for Foles to start over Wentz just years ago. Having given up on Saint Nick, these same fans (and more) are making the case to insert Jalen Hurts to the top of the depth chart, usurping Wentz.
Foles not only won the game on Sunday, he displayed the most crucial element of being a franchise quarterback: poise. Despite throwing an interception early, Foles let it roll off of him and was able to step up and lead his team to victory. This is what the greats are able to do with consistency. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and all the notable quarterbacks of NFL history hold that one trait in common. Yes, players will make mistakes — and they will look horrible at times — but it is how that player responds to adversity that determines greatness. Wentz used to play this way. Just last year we saw a three game run that sold us on Wentz as the franchise quarterback. His ability to face adversity and play as he did was a glimmer of greatness, and one we hoped he would continue to expand upon.
Wentz’s struggles are merely the tip of the iceberg of the issues plaguing the Eagles as Week 3 rolls into the rearview mirror. Pederson has become a cheap imitation of the coach who outdueled both Brady and Bill Belichik in 2017. The offensive line has struggled to consistently protect Wentz. This is especially the case for left tackle Jason Peters, who had the audacity to demand more money to switch positions when Andre Dillard went down prior to Week 1. His performance has not made him worth the money that he squeezed from the organization in their time of desperation at a blindside protector.
The Eagles can miraculously still make the playoffs as the rest of the NFC East continues to struggle. The birds now face a stretch of difficult games which will be against the league’s most elite offenses. If they don’t wake up soon, they will be buried before the bye week. Fly Eagles Fly.
Joseph Gill is a second-year English writings major. JG923276@wcupa.edu