“Philadelphia Eagles iPhone/iPod Touch Wallpaper” by Brian Wilson licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2
The year was 2016. The Eagles had recently parted ways with three-year head coach Chip Kelly and were beginning the new era with former Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. Sam Bradford was the expected starter, and the roster was in shambles. Questions dominated every position, and returning General Manager Howie Roseman set his sights on a reconstruction.
Roseman’s strategy to rebuild the roster was solid and ended up working for at least two or three years, andit did enough to propel the ravenous Philadelphia fanbase to their first Superbowl victory. His primary focus was set on three position groups: quarterback, offensive line and defensive line. Roseman solidified the latter two with depth in both veteran and young talent. Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan and Brandon Graham headlined these two groups and several more pro bowl players dug on either side of the trenches. Now, to the quarterback position.
Roseman ended up making his first investment in the Wentz Wagon by making a trade up in the draft to acquire Cleveland’s second overall selection. At the time, the two quarterback prospects that dominated headlines were Jared Goff and, of course, Carson Wentz. Goff was the pocket passer. Supposedly more accurate and less mobile than his counterpart, Goff was also believed to have less arm strength, but was viewed as the safer pick with a high floor and, perceivably, a limitless ceiling. Wentz was the North Dakota gunslinging, cannon-armed mobile passer. While his accuracy issues were a concern and his mechanics were abysmal, his ceiling seemed astronomical due to his raw talent and athleticism.
Five years later, these two top draft picks are likely to be shipped off to a new team. Goff was already traded to Detroit, as the Rams seemingly saw Stafford as the superior player. But my focus is not on Goff; my focus is on the man who was said to be Philadelphia’s savior: Wentz. Wentz started the 2016 season, despite expectations that Bradford would be the returning number one quarterback. Philly dealt the former Ram to Minnesota, however, shortly before the season began and after Teddy Bridgewater (then Vikings QB) suffered a torn ACL. The Carson Wentz era had begun.
And it began with a bang.
Philly roared to a 3–0 start, which marked the first time a rookie Eagles coach had done so. The biggest and most shocking win was against the state rival Pittsburgh Steelers, in which Wentz and company dominated their way to a 34–3 victory. Frantically, fans fell in love with the North Dakota State University product and couldn’t get enough of his highlight reel escapes and amazing off platform throws. As the season progressed, Wentz and the birds fell to 7–9, but his status as ‘QB of the future’ was bright.
No one expected what would happen the next year.
Perhaps the zenith of Wentz’s career lies in this season, but also the beginning of his unraveling, which would only grow worse with time.
Wentz was dominant. He was flawless. He was tough as nails and his talent seemingly blossomed a new branch with every game. Third downs were nothing to him, and no amount of pressure could stop him from heaving the ball 40 yards down the field. 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions filled his resume that year as the Eagles plowed ahead into the number one seed of the National Football Conference (NFC).
It all came to a head in Los Angeles, where Wentz met his former predecessor in the draft a year ago: Jared Goff. The two duked it out in a shootout that would end up determining the NFC’s number one seed and answer the question (at least for the short term) whether Wentz was better than Goff. Both QB’s showed up huge, but Wentz looked the best he had all year. His pocket poise and toughness were sharper than ever, and his accuracy was better than what anyone could have expected. Wentz was seemingly exploding into another level after throwing three touchdowns by the third quarter. His fourth, however, would be upon two torn knee ligaments.
As he walked off the field, his face obviously red in agony, Carson Wentz left what would be the greatest version of himself to be imprinted in the minds of millions of Philly loyals.
Though he never returned to form, Wentz was still believed to be the future of this franchise and Roseman proved that belief by extending the quarterback in a (then) smart contract of $128 million. He knew the market was about to explode with Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes nearing lucrative extensions, so he acted quickly to lock up his quarterback.
Most analysts (not Skip Bayless) and fans lauded this move and prepared for greatness ahead.
Flash forward to 2020 and Wentz is now on the trade table as likely the next piece to be moved in a very active “QB Carousel.” What’s worse is he is considered as one of the weakest options, given his alarming regression and negative rumors of his locker room presence.
How did we get here?
Well, it is the culmination of several factors that led us to where Wentz and the Birds stand. In short, the Eagles’ responsibilities lie in their inability to acquire a young, legitimate threat at wide receiver for five years now, their inability to let go of the aging and regressing SB champion roster and their stubborn propensity for drafting terribly. Add on an injured offensive line and you get the 2020 Eagles offensive woes and a rightfully frustrated quarterback.
Now to Wentz’s side. His injuries have obviously affected his psychological outlook on the game and his panicking and shoddy accuracy personifies that. It doesn’t help when you hear that he didn’t want coaches’ help or even Pederson’s playcalling. To further damage his case, Wentz never improved his mechanics and constantly struggled to not fumble the ball. His aforementioned locker room tensions were not ideal and, while never factually proven, were a massive stormcloud over the past two years.
Now where will he go? Well, the options seem to be either a reunification with Frank Reich, Eagles former OC, in Indianapolis, or with John DeFilippo, former Eagles QB coach, in Chicago. What the compensation may be for Philly? God only knows.
Wherever he goes, I will wish him well and I hope many fans can follow me on that. I’ve watched nearly every snap of Carson Wentz’s young career and never have I seen a tougher, or more dedicated quarterback. While he may be in a funk right now, I do not doubt that he has the ability to rise from the ashes to become great once more. We will miss you, Wentz, and I wish it didn’t have to end this way. Fly, Eagles Fly.
Joseph Gill is a second-year English writings major. JG923276@wcupa.edu