Now that the 2020 season has come to its merciful ending, we will all have plenty to think and talk about when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles. As a Carson Wentz supporter, I have come to his defense more often than not, including in one of my previous posts. However, with the performances we saw in 2020, I have to take an honest look and truly wonder why everything Wentz downhill for the franchise QB (see what I did there?).
During his time in Philadelphia, Wentz has consistently talked about how he “will not change his style of play” because he has “to be aggressive and make plays for his team”. While this attitude is commendable and perhaps even worthy of respect at times, it is also egotistical and selfish. Change does not always have to be a bad thing. We cannot become complacent with mediocre play and poor decision-making for a supposed franchise quarterback in his fifth year on the verge of making more than $30,000,000 per year.
We hear the same post-game talk after each poor game and it is natural to wonder why has he developed such a stubbornness to changing this aspect of his game? Yes, taking chances and being aggressive is a highly coveted skill for a quarterback. However, there is a difference between aggressive and downright reckless.
During the Week 8 contest versus the Dallas Cowboys, Carson began scrambling to the left and found no one wearing a green jersey on that side of the field only to fumble the ball (clip ends at the 0:15 second mark). That is not Carson “being aggressive and making plays”. That is being reckless and setting your team up for failure in a tight divisional game. While this is just one example, it perfectly displays the poor-decision making that has plagued the former starting QB all year.
Sooner or later, you have to be open to adjusting and being better to help your team be more successful. Every week cannot be a struggle to come back from early-game mistakes (more like habits). Winning should be the priority. The coaching is there, although coaching has sometimes been a question mark in its own ways. The opportunities to have big leads and wins have been there. Unfortunately, with each opportunity, there was a bone-headed decision attached to it.
Should the Philadelphia Eagles really have struggled to beat the lifeless Dallas Cowboys in Week 8? The Cowboys were starting Ben Denucci, a seventh round rookie quarterback making his first-ever professional start. If not for Carson’s reckless play, which included four turnovers, would the Cowboys have stood a chance in this game? Granted, a win is a win. However, having seen how the 2020 season unfolded, against better teams with better coaching, you cannot expect to win on a consistent basis when you insist on playing the same reckless way every week.
This is not to call Carson’s character or talent into question. For all of his issues, he has had his fair share of positives and has had to deal with tons of injuries and obvious roster-building issues around him. We can certainly applaud him for his valiant effort to keep us in games and his late-season 2019 heroics. Contrarily, we cannot continue to brush the legitimate issues under the rug for a franchise quarterback who is now in his fifth year.
Perhaps we can say Carson has not been receiving the right coaching. We can attempt to give him any number of excuses or justifications. Ultimately, he is in his fifth year and seems to be progressively slipping into a Jameis Winston-esque turnover problem. This issue seems to be less about coaching and more about a player with too much pressure on him, most of which is coming from himself. Not every throw needs to have so much weight on it. You do not and cannot win the Super Bowl in November on a 1st and 10 at the Dallas 34-yard line (he threw an interception into double coverage on this play).
While the 2020 season was once again riddled with injuries and questionable coaching decisions (punting in overtime in Week 3 versus the Cincinnati Bengals???), if you had to pinpoint the primary issue that plagued the Philadelphia Eagles this season, it was most likely poor quarterback play. Jalen Hurts looked exciting and promising in his limited action, the final four games of the season, but his turnovers and mistakes are not considered an issue because he is in his rookie year and was pushed into a putrid offense devoid of any balance or premier talent.
With recent reports that Carson wants out of Philadelphia, the Eagles may benefit more from parting ways than Wentz would. However, Wentz may need to take this offseason as a chance to reflect on what the future holds for him as an NFL quarterback. Whether Carson plays in Philadelphia again or not, whether the benching was the final nail in a volatile marriage between the Eagles and Wentz or not, it was a very disheartening and odd sight to have watched his regression in 2020, especially considering the highlights we have seen from him earlier in his career.
Ultimately, this experience can perhaps become a moment in his career he will hopefully look back on and be thankful for. The questionable decision making and turnovers we have seen in 2020 were merely a symptom of a much bigger problem, one that has been briefly discussed, but one that does not exclude anyone in the organization. A lack of honesty and accountability at all levels of this franchise. This benching and this season as a whole should serve as a warning to Carson Wentz or any player who begins to feel invincible despite their poor habits.
“When a defining moment comes along, you can either define the moment or let the moment define you”. Well that moment has come for Carson Wentz. This can either bring him back to his 2017 form or cause him to fold. The pressure is on, Carson. The same way it has been since former Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles raised the Lombardi trophy on February 4, 2018. If Carson ever wants to win a Lombardi of his own, this moment has to be instrumental in his resurgence. Whether that is in Philadelphia or elsewhere…well only time will tell.