Chris Long will always be one of the most respected Eagles of all time in my book. For the short period of time he was here (2017-’18) he impacted the Philadelphia community so profoundly and was a key part to one of the most improbable Super Bowl runs in NFL history. He’s one of the more thoughtful athletes out there and always has an interesting perspective on nearly every topic.
So when he speaks, I listen.
On his most recent episode of his podcast “Green Light with Chris Long,” Long decided to weigh in on the state of the Eagles. At 0-2-1, there isn’t much positivity from anyone covering this team right now. Long didn’t provide any silver linings, but he had a few interesting points that are worth discussing.
Before diving into the state of the Birds, Long prefaced his segment by saying, “it’s time to panic.” He then went onto say this:
“The roster has fallen off, really suddenly. It’s compounded by being the most snakebit team in football, when it comes to injuries. I get that. Reagor, DeSean, Goedert yesterday – they’ve gone youth, and the youth hasn’t stayed healthy. I know I’m biased, I’m the old guy who moved on and it might sound like sour grapes. I’m only airing this out because I’m analyzing the game. You know? 2017 was fucking lightning in a bottle, and that’s maybe magic we can only recreate. We didn’t build to that. I say we, I wasn’t there before. We didn’t build to that, it just happened. Then there was a regression to the mean, and now it looks like the window’s kind of closed. They’re not a good football team right now.”
There are a few things to dissect from this snippet, but it’s impossible to overlook the “2017 was fucking lightning in a bottle” line. Most Eagles fans shy away from talking about 2017 being a fluke, but with how the team has regressed the past two years, and now sitting at 0-2-1 to start 2020, it’s pretty clear that that was not the ‘new norm.’
The ‘norm’ is what we’ve seen the past two season — an average football team that has shown glimpses of being elite. There are a lot of factors that played into why 2017 was so special, and Long pretty much hits on all of them in his pod.
As for who’s to blame for where the Eagles are currently at? Long didn’t shy away from stating the obvious, Carson Wentz has not played up to par. “The reason Carson’s not playing well, part of it’s on him, part of it’s because they’re (the Eagles) not good.” He continued by saying, “As we saw last year, even a cratered roster can be carried by a rare quarterback talent, and that’s what I think Carson is. But for some reason in 2020, Carson isn’t getting it done. The throws aren’t there … He went from a top-5 fringe guy last year to a guy I don’t recognize so much this year and it sucks.”
It’s no secret that Wentz has struggled this season, and I agree fully with Long’s assessment on it. Yes, he needs to make the throws when they’re there, but when Greg Ward is the best receiver you have at your disposal, the margin for error is razor thin. DeSean Jackson has been in and out of the lineup, Jalen Reagor will be sidelined for about two months. Alshon Jeffery should be back any week now, which should help a bit, but it’s pretty clear that this group of skill position players is not very good right now.
Not to mention the battered offensive line that Carson is playing behind.
Long then went on to say something that I think every Eagles fan should hear.
Unfortunately, I worry that the heat upstairs is going to cause people to make out of character decisions, and Carson is a rare talent. He’s much rarer, in my opinion, than some of the people upstairs, and that’s nothing against the people upstairs … If you’re thinking in the back of your head, and your a Philly fan, and I said this last year, we’re moving on from Carson: for what, and are you comfortable with him ending up somewhere where things are rolling and him getting it going? You have to ask yourself that question. Somebody’s job is going to be on the line soon, I don’t know who it’s going to be.”
Long doesn’t say Howie Roseman by name here, but ‘people upstairs’ is a clear indicator that Howie is who he’s referencing. I do think Wentz is more valuable to this franchise than Howie, and I don’t think it’s particularly close either.
Howie can’t control who gets injured and who doesn’t, but despite the numerous injuries this team has faced over the past few seasons, it’s still clear that Howie hasn’t built a good football team. From the lack of depth on both sides of the ball, the complete negligence of the linebacker position, his inability to bring in difference makers on offense, to his countless whiffs in the draft, Howie deserves the bulk of the blame for where this team is at right now.
So ask yourself what Long stated, are you comfortable getting rid of Wentz when his value is low and watching him join a team that’s just a quarterback away from competing for a title? The first team that comes to mind is the Indianapolis Colts, where former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich is currently 2-1 with Philip Rivers at the helm. They have the best defense in football and a solid group of offensive skill position players, not to mention a top-10 offensive line.
Do you really want to give up on Wentz just to watch him go compete for a title with a team like the Colts? And with the coach who played a huge role in Wentz’s MVP season? If you think watching Markelle Fultz magically start hitting threes once he left the Sixers was bad, just imagine watching Wentz resurrect his career and get back into top-5 QB form under the right coaching.
You don’t give up on a guy with this much talent, you just don’t. And this isn’t a defense of Wentz, he has played poorly this season, but let’s not act like getting rid of him and moving to Jalen Hurts or someone else will fix this team. The only way this team can get back on track is finding the right coaches and right guys upstairs to develop Wentz and put the right pieces around him.
I still have faith Wentz will be a really good quarterback in this league, I just hope it’s with the Eagles and not someone else.
As always, I appreciate whenever Chris Long gives his opinion on the Birds, he always brings a nuanced point of view to the table. Hopefully he’ll have something positive to say next time he talks Birds.
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