It’s hard to put into words how stark Carson Wentz’s decline has been since his 2017 campaign. He seemed like the next young quarterback to take the league by storm. He made countless unbelievable throws, found ways to win games late, and he made it all look so easy.
So, what’s happened since then?
It’s really not that hard to see from an objective point of view, but Eagles fans often carry their bias with them whenever they analyze the team’s starting quarterback.
I’ve always been a fan of Wentz, I mean, how can you not be? The guy puts it all on the line for his team, but his back breaking mistakes, game in and game out, have been frustrating to say the least this season. In year’s past, for every errant throw he made, Wentz would usually follow it up with a handful of solid plays, sprinkling in the eye popping play every so often. That hasn’t been the case this season, as the bone-headed plays have far outweighed the dazzling ones.
Now that we’re eight games into the 2020 campaign, it’s abundantly clear that this offensive coaching staff — or the lack thereof — isn’t capable of helping Wentz fix these mental issues. He’s turned the ball over every week, often doing it in egregious fashion. You simply can’t convince me that these mistakes aren’t correctable with a solid coaching staff.
Wentz has the work ethic required, and he’s never rubbed me as a ‘dumb’ guy. These mistakes are obvious, anyone with a semi-competent football mind can see that.
Press Taylor has been the quarterbacks coach here for the past two and a half seasons. In that time, we’ve seen no development in Wentz’s game. We’ve actually seen the opposite. He’s gotten worse on things he used to be good at, even when he tries to improvise, Wentz either holds onto the ball too long and takes a sack, or makes an ill-advised throw across his body. He’s still at his best in those improvisational moments, but he’s not as ‘elite’ as he used to be.
Doug Pederson has also clearly lost his play calling ways. There’s no creativity in what he does, his situational awareness is all out of whack. And above all else, his offense has lost its identity.
Doug deserves credit for continually rallying the troops, especially when his team’s back is against the wall, but I can’t overlook the in-game idiocy we see every week.
It’s fair to question if Doug or Taylor are working towards helping Wentz fix his flaws in an effective manner. I know I’m beating a dead horse when I say this, but when Wentz had a competent offensive coordinator (Frank Reich) and a competent QBs coach (John Defilippo) these mental errors rarely happened.
In theory, bringing in a bunch of offensive guys this offseason, all of whom come from different offensive backgrounds, was a solid plan. But in practice, it just hasn’t worked. We haven’t seen any of the concepts that guys like Rich Scangarello or Marty Mornhinweg were supposed to bring to this team materialize on the field. Bringing in a wide variety of offensive ideologies has led to an identity-less offense, like I mentioned earlier.
Wentz’s failures and regression this year is an indictment on this coaching staff. Wentz shouldn’t be playing as bad as he is, he’s too talented.
Of course, Philly fans have been floating the idea of benching Wentz for Jalen Hurts all season. For those of you who are in this mindset, just ask yourself: if Pederson and this coaching staff failed to make Wentz even an average starting quarterback this season, what makes you think they’ll have any success molding Hurts into one? Hurts is the definition of a ‘project quarterback.’ Pederson has had trouble even incorporating him in Taysom Hill-like ways. How can we expect him to build his entire offense around him?
The idea of benching Wentz is a bit misguided. If this coaching staff has really done all they can to try and bring the best out of Wentz, and he’s just failed every step along the way, the trigger on his benching should’ve been pulled already. But I don’t believe that’s the case.
Pederson made some interesting comments during a press conference last week when talking about possibly benching Jordan Mailata in favor of Jason Peters. Here’s the full quote:
“Jordan has played well and I’ll say this: I go back to Nelson Agholor a few years ago and an opportunity for him to kind of see the big picture himself. And don’t take me wrong here, I love where Jordan’s at, I love where his growth is. But at the same time, if Jason Peters starts at left tackle it allows Jordan to see the big picture as well and kind of step back and observe that way, and sometimes that helps young players, too.”
I don’t think the idea of letting Mailata sit so he can ‘see the big picture’ makes any sense, but applying that thought to Wentz does actually make some sense. Essentially all of Wentz’s issues this year have been mental, so maybe sitting him down and letting him see the game from the sidelines would help him see things from a different angle. Wentz has been the starting quarterback here since the year he was drafted, he’s never had the opportunity to watch the game next to his coaches and see how things unfold from that perspective.
I go back to 2008, when Donovan McNabb was benched halfway through the team’s Week 12 game at Baltimore. It was obviously a wake up call for McNabb, who finished that season as the starter, going 4-1 down the stretch and getting his team into the playoffs.
At the very least, the threat of being benched has to be there for Wentz. He needs to be held accountable for how poorly he’s been playing. But truthfully, I’m not sure if this coaching staff is willing to pull that card with Wentz just yet.
The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for Wentz and this team. Every single day of this bye week should be dedicated to analyzing film, and working towards fixing these mental blunders that have plagued Wentz’s 2020 campaign.
Will it ultimately be fixed this season? Your guess is as good as mine. If Wentz and his coaching staff take this regression seriously, there’s a chance.