Quotes Courtesy of Jeff McLane’s article on Wentz’s turbulent season
The only thing more certain than Jeffrey Lurie avoiding the word “rebuilding” is a Jeff McLane article with a ton of leaks on the back of the firing of a head coach. He has a ton of nuggets this year, many of them from the previous regime’s coaching staff, so let’s take a moment to discuss the legitimacy of the criticisms directed at Carson Wentz.
Roseman, owner Jeffrey Lurie, and other Eagles leaders, however, treated Wentz as if he had won that championship. They allowed him too much say in the draft, free agency, and coaching decisions. And while he played a large role in getting to the title game, and to the postseason the next two years, he has only six playoff snaps in five years to his name.
It was always possible the Eagles Super Bowl triumph would produce an inferiority complex in their franchise QB. Coming off the back of an MVP-calibre season, cruelly cut short by injury, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that the organisation aggressively backed their long-term solution at signal caller. Every game he walks past a statue of one of the league’s most iconic moments, yet the bronzed face staring back is not one browned by the North Dakota sun. Instead, it is Nick Foles enshrined in franchise history. The claim that Wentz has significant say in coaching and personnel decisions appears ludicrous. The other figure alongside Foles no longer resides in Philadelphia, in large part because he was unable to reassemble the quality staff he composed in 2017. The selection of Jalen Hurts doesn’t speak to a QB with his fingerprints all over the draft.
But Hurts was just one piece to the puzzle. The forces behind Wentz’s regression were manifold and in many ways there for years. He didn’t always take to hard coaching. He struggled with accountability. He could shrink back into a tight-knit group of teammates he trusted or become isolated.
“He doesn’t understand that he lost games for us,” a veteran player said. “He will never admit that and that’s a problem because he can’t get it corrected.”
There are Eagles who supported Wentz throughout the season, and some who continued to defend him after the season. But there was a sentiment among various coaches and players that he needed to do a better job taking the public blows for the team even if he wasn’t always at fault.
Perhaps the biggest concern to emerge from McLane’s piece surrounds Wentz’s accountability amongst his teammates. It is the job of the face of the franchise to impartially drive the success of the team. They must take responsibility for failure. He would be well within his rights to lament the lack of receiving talent acquired during his tenure, but he must ensure personal pity does not spill into the public domain. This isn’t the first time reports have surfaced of Wentz shirking blame. Regardless of culpability he must front the virulent criticism of the team after losses.
Pederson’s offense also had become predictable. And Press Taylor, who had been given the keys to Wentz and the passing game, had been considered by many on the team to be the wrong coach for the job.
No one quite knew what to make of Scangarello’s role, including himself.
Scangarello would be more directly involved with scheme and Wentz, while Mornhinweg was brought in to consult Pederson and help train Taylor.
The offense was downright terrible last year, and it sure sounds like Press Taylor was unanimously considered a poor selection by players back in 2019. The coaching carousel was more like a Ferris wheel in 2020; tons of movement but very little change. Scangarello arrived, and didn’t know his role, while Mornhinweg brought the same lack of initiative that saw the offense decline dramatically when he briefly called plays under Andy Reid in 2012. Taylor refused the advice of the pair, and the lack of an offensive coordinator provided no individual capable of synthesising disparate voices.
[Wentz’s] resistance to hard instruction made him lose faith from coaches and an unwillingness to accept blame for his mistakes hurt him in the locker room.
In the quarterback room, when his errors were pointed out, Wentz would sometimes make irrelevant excuses and Taylor wouldn’t correct him.
There was a disconnect even before Wentz was benched, though. Pederson would call a play only for his quarterback to occasionally kill it for no other reason than his personal distaste, sources said. It became “a pissing match” between the two, one of the sources said.
John DeFillipo, Wentz’s first quarterback coach with the Eagles, coached him hard. Former offensive coordinator Frank Reich did as well. They had years of experience, though, and Wentz was just entering the NFL when he worked under them.
Wentz would at times fight back and Groh, who had never previously been an NFL coordinator, eventually learned when to pick his battles. But they struggled to see eye to eye, with Wentz focused more on playing to his strengths, and Groh scheming plays to counter a defense, the divide a prominent reason why the latter was fired last offseason.
The logic here is entirely flawed. On the one hand, he doesn’t respond well to hard coaching. On the other, he responded well to hard coaching on entering the league. The issue here is not with Wentz but with his coaches. As McLane readily acknowledges, the quality and respect earned by the combination of Reich/DeFillipo garnered good results. When the coaching standard declined, it is understandable that Wentz responded negatively, even if his methods sound entirely inappropriate. Every quarterback wants the scheme to tailor to his strengths, but must also understand that exploiting coverages is fundamental to offensive efficiency. As for changing plays at the line, claims regarding Wentz’s thought-process are baseless. Short of self-sabotage, I don’t imagine Wentz switching to inferior plays intentionally.
Pederson also struggled with communication and being more open about decisions he had made. His decision to play third stringer Nate Sudfeld in the season finale without directly telling Hurts, or the team as a whole, was the example most recently cited. But there were others.
This is just bizarre. Pederson told the NBC crew he planned to switch quarterbacks, but decided to surprise his team with the substitution at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Nothing speaks more to Pederson’s decline than the obfuscation of another QB change from his team.
Wentz implemented an intricate warm-up program three years ago. It isn’t much different than other quarterback routines, but its 45-minute length seemed extreme to some Eagles staffers.
Did he need that much time to get loose, they posited?
Speaking of bizarre, the idea that Wentz deserves criticism for lengthening his warmup after a sequence of injuries is confounding. Broadly, he should be encouraged to do whatever makes him feel most comfortable.
By the bye week, Wentz had been sacked an NFL-high of 32 times. A coaching analysis deemed the quarterback responsible for almost two-thirds. Around the break, one offensive lineman had gone to management and requested a switch to Hurts.
By far the most significant issue with Wentz’s game is his movement in the pocket. It’s been a problem throughout his career, exacerbated by miraculously escaping sacks early in his career. It generated a tendency to extend plays unnecessarily, and a metric ton of negative yardage. In turn that resulted in the forced throws, the interceptions and the ultimate benching.
Wentz can become an exceptional quarterback once more, but he needs the right support structures around him. A coach that tailors the offense to his strengths, exploits coverages and chastises his failures has achieved elite-level performance. If the Eagles find the right guy, you can bet he’ll get back there again.