There is no doubt as to where blame should be placed for the Eagles 0-2 start. Carson Wentz’s 64.4 QB rating through two games ranks 33rd out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks, and his four interceptions is tied for most in the league. Poor pre-snap reads, poor decision-making, and poor mechanics have all played a role in his struggle, and while there’s certainly blame to be shared around the locker room, the bulk of it needs to fall on Wentz.
I understand the inclination to parcel out blame to the rest of the roster, but for the purposes of this conversation that’s beside the point. Ever since his near-MVP campaign in 2017, large factions of the fan base and media have pushed the agenda that Carson Wentz is an elite quarterback, befitting of a top-5 ranking and belonging in the same breathe as Mahomes, Wilson, Rodgers, etc…; and for a brief moment, that may have seemed rationale, if not obvious. Now it sounds silly.
The truth is, we’ve seen glimpses of elite play from Wentz at moments in his career, but stretches of inconsistent football have become far too common over the past three seasons, and
inconsistent terrible quarterbacking has put the Eagles in an 0-2 hole here in 2020. The comparisons that we once declared “settled” (Wentz vs Watson, Wentz vs Dak, Wentz vs Goff) are pretty clearly up for debate. Carson isn’t discernibly worse than those names, but he’s obviously not better—that much has been made clear over the past two plus seasons.
It’s high time for the Eagles fan base to accept Wentz for what he truly is: an average starting QB, who, for the most part, ebbs and flows in relation to the offense around him. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—only the leagues premier QBs are able to elevate middling rosters—but it’s certainly a sobering reality for a fan base that’s been flying-high on Carson since day one.
Doesn’t a lackluster receiving core deserve some blame?
For sure, Howie Roseman (first through negligence, then ineptitude) failed to surround Wentz with real weapons on the outside. Without a body at WR who can consistently separate, the offense is always going to be somewhat contracted. While Doug’s West Coast system relies heavily on TEs, RBs, and a quick-hitting screen game, the lack of threats at WR (at least for the time being) really knee caps our potential offensively. Without a true X-wideout on the roster it’s fairly easy for defenses sit on Reagor/Desean over the top, and once that‘s been denied our offense is really reduced to a series of TE crossers, misdirection screens, and underneath looks.
However, as I mentioned earlier, this discussion is completely beside the point as it pertains to Wentz. The dearth of talent at WR needs to be acknowledged, sure, but the league’s elite quarterbacks aren’t dependent on talent around them to move the football and score points. So while his current struggles can be chalked up to difficult circumstances, the headline for me is that Wentz isn’t the type of player who can transcend adversity—not some suggestion that he be absolved of criticism.
Is this an overreaction to two games of Wentz’s career?
This is a fair question. We shouldn’t judge Carson based off the worst two-game stretch of his career, obviously, but this sort of inconsistent play has become a trend with Carson over the last three years, not an exception. There is no stretch of games that are as statistically bad as the past two—stats don’t tell the full story—but there have been stretches of similarly lackluster play from Wentz in the past.
Last season’s middle eight-game stretch (after the Green Bay win and before the four-game win streak vs the division) yielded a 3-5 record, with Wentz posting an average QB rating of 87.2, to go along with 5 INTs, 23 sacks taken, and 9 fumbles (9!!!). The portion of the fan base that isn’t so quick to forget our struggles will remind you that blown pre-snap reads, blatant poor decisions with the football, and at times downright bad mechanics were all prevalent in Wentz’s play through that stretch.
Or perhaps you remember 2018, when a four game stretch saw our offense stagnate in a loss to Carolina in which we blew a 17-0 lead, stagnate early in a skin-of-our-teeth win against a poor Jacksonville team, then again a week later in a loss vs Dallas, before capping it off with a 48-7 loss to New Orleans. That 1-3 stretch in which Wentz tossed 5 picks, surrendered 13 sacks, and fumbled 3 times cost the team the division.
Again, in each season there was blame to be shared all throughout the organization, but that didn’t mean Wentz should be excused. For a while it seemed as if the fan base was holding Wentz in high regard without holding him to a higher standard. This 0-2 start feels like the first time a majority of evaluators in this city are being confronted with the reality that Wentz is a bigger part of problem than they’d like to believe.
We all know what ‘Bad Wentz’ looks like—his lower half falls out of sync, his arm motion becomes loopy, and he starts forcing balls. Problems that we once wrote off as growing pains are beginning to look more and more like indelible flaws in his game, and we can’t continue to ignore them despite other holes on the roster.
When things are going well Carson has legitimately looked like one of the best players in football, but that’s true of probably 20 quarterbacks in this league—it’s the nature of the position. There’s a small handful of QBs who are good enough to transcend the talent around them, but if these last two-plus seasons are any indication then we should accept that Wentz isn’t one of them, and the evidence is overwhelming. Put that in perspective with his massive contract and injury history, and maybe it’s time we start re-adjusting our perception of our “star” quarterback.