Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman have certainly played their role in everything that’s transpired with the quarterback position in Philly. At nearly every turn, they propped Wentz up as the face of the franchise. At the height of his career with the Eagles, Wentz was almost a god-like figure among the fan base.
He was going to be the messiah who would eventually become the best quarterback in Eagles history. Early on in his tenure, all was going according to plan.
Then Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14 of the 2017 season, ending his MVP-esque year. As we all know, with Nick Foles leading the charge, the Birds marched their way to Super Bowl LII and dethroned the greatest dynasty in the history of professional sports.
Despite not playing a single play in the Super Bowl or the playoffs, Wentz was one of the three players chosen to stand on that Super Bowl podium. Alongside Zach Ertz and the Super Bowl MVP Foles, Wentz stood in street clothes hoisting a Lombardi Trophy that he didn’t earn.
Now, I know what you’re going to say. “But he’s the reason we had the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, if it wasn’t for that the Eagles probably wouldn’t have even reached the Super Bowl!” I totally agree with that. But looking back on that Super Bowl and the players that had a hand in winning that game. Not players who helped the team get there, players who actually made plays to win that game. Brandon Graham, Malcolm Jenkins, among others, deserved to be on that podium instead of Wentz.
At the time, it really didn’t seem like that big of a deal. This injury was just a bump in the road for Wentz, then only 25 years old. He was still the franchise quarterback moving forward, and I think everyone realized that.
What we didn’t understand at the time, is that gesture towards Wentz foreshadowed the way the organization was going to treat their quarterback for the next three years. Handing him a huge contract extension before it was necessary, constantly firing and hiring coaches to benefit Wentz, giving him power in the organization despite his play steadily going down after 2017.
When a player is told he’s the best for his entire life, it’s nearly impossible to change that mode of thinking. Especially at 28 years old, the age Wentz is at now.
This constant admiration of Wentz dated back to his time at North Dakota State, where he remains a larger than life figure for that fan base.
This isn’t to say Wentz didn’t work hard at his craft or that he didn’t want to win, I just don’t believe he understood the value of critical coaching. Wentz reached his peak by doing things a certain way, and when that type of preparation started growing stale and the product on the field grew worse, he couldn’t accept it.
That’s why coaches like Press Taylor, who’s always been close to Wentz personally, was propped up within the Eagles organization. Taylor told Wentz what he wanted to hear, not what he needed to hear. And when coaches approached Wentz with a more critical lens (i.e. Mike Groh) they were replaced accordingly.
How the drafting of Hurts changed everything
Up until last year’s NFL Draft, the organization didn’t dare to do anything to mess with Wentz mentally. Like I said earlier, everything they did was an attempt to prop Wentz up.
That all changed in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, when the Eagles selected Jalen Hurts as Wentz’s backup. It was the first time Wentz didn’t feel like the clear cut face of the franchise. And his insecurity clearly manifested itself on the field, as Wentz continually tried to play hero ball.
It amounted to his worst season of football in his entire life, and once he was benched in Week 13, his mental state was completely shot. He never spoke to the Philadelphia media again and probably never will now that he’s in Indianapolis.
The Wentz experiment in Philly was always destined to fail. Wentz was the product of a collegiate program that absolutely adored him, and once he got to Philly he was given the same treatment. Even if his worst games, Wentz was still given the benefit of the doubt by the majority of the fan base and his organization.
When you give a guy all the love and admiration in the world, even the slightest moves that go against that can completely fracture a man’s mental state. Wentz has never had to face true adversity throughout his football career. He’s never had to fight for anything, everything was given to him because of his immense physical talent and great work ethic.
And once Wentz was faced with just a little bit of adversity after the Hurts pick, he crumbled. He couldn’t handle the pressure, and that’s why he’s no longer in an Eagles uniform.
Will he finally realize the error of his ways with a fresh start? Maybe. But, again, he’ll be in a situation where he’s clearly valued and working with a coach that loves working with him too. Only time will tell.