Carson Wentz was traded, and the very same punditry that declared he was en route Chicago in exchange for Tarik Cohen, Nick Foles, and that giant reflective bean statue are now berating your Twitter timeline with more misinformation.
As Eagles fans, we carry a civic duty — dare I say a divine right — to “angry react” any and all news stories. Bon Jovi could cure COVID and some Joe Schmoe tailgating on Packer Ave would be like, “he couldn’t cure the Albany Empire in the Arena Bowl two summers ago,” between slurps of Miller.
But the last few years of football deserve a bit more nuance. Just 3 calendar years removed from Super Bowl Glory, our head coach is gone, our franchise quarterback is the face of Indianapolis, and our general manager is the laughing stock of 97.5 WIP. The last 12 months have been a finger-pointing-convention in South Philly, with everyone and their mother trying to parse out which rumor, which offseason storyline truly sank the ship.
The reality is, the ship was leaking from a million different places, and until we recognize that we will have neither peace nor a solution.
Enraptured as we all are in our passions, let’s take a minute and open our eyes to how we really got here.
1) Howie Roseman
They don’t teach this in school, but two things can be true. The “Fire Howie” camp can be entirely justified in sharpening their pitchforks just as the Roseman Stans are right in acknowledging his role in building the city’s only Super Bowl roster. So…
Howie Roseman helped win Philadelphia its first Super Bowl. He got Alshon Jeffery, he snagged Jay Ajayi, he brought in LaGarrette Blount and Chris Long, he drafted Carson Wentz, he welcomed Nick Foles back in, and he landed a deep threat who could stretch the field in Torrey Smith.
Since then he brought in Mike Wallace and DeSean Jackson to fill that role, built a stacked defensive line, and signed then-hopeful quarterback Carson Wentz to a deal that, if we’re being honest, we all really liked at the time. In his time as GM, he drafted Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Nick Foles, Jason Kelce, and Fletcher Cox.
He signed Carson Wentz to a $128 million deal, and a year and 8 months later traded the kid for 2nd and 3rd round picks. Either the initial deal was bad, or the return is embarrassing — one of these things must be true. Either way, the Eagles are set to take the biggest dead cap hit in NFL history ($33.8 million). We got more in exchange for Sam Bradford. We even got a 2nd and a 3rd for a washed-up Donovan McNabb.
Roseman also left DK Metcalf, Justin Jefferson, and others on the draft board in favor of JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor. He took Jalen Hurts in the second round the year after he made Carson Wentz the franchise guy. We have no linebackers because of Howie. He has shown an inability to be aggressive or successful in free agency since 2017.
2) The Medical Staff
This issue is often overlooked in the offseason, but the Eagles were criminally injured over the last three seasons. The offense was flat largely because injuries to Mike Wallace and DeSean Jackson halted our ability to stretch the field. Alshon Jeffery played with a torn rotator cuff. Brandon Brooks, for his unbelievable resilience, has been relegated to PT the last two seasons, leaving a gaping hole in our offensive line. At one point last year, Wentz and Jason Kelce were the only healthy offensive starters.
Howie Roseman can bring in whatever talent he wants, but if the team can’t stay healthy, who cares? No team has had as extensive of a weekly injury report as the Eagles over the last three years. Frankly, a division title and two playoff berths are a miracle.
3) Doug Pederson
Another “two things can be true” situation.
Doug Pederson out-coached the greatest coach of all time, and in the Super Bowl no less. He navigated injuries and locker-room drama to make the playoffs three of the last four years, only falling below .500 in the season there was a pandemic. His gutsy play-calling in the red zone and on fourth down has set the standard in the NFL, justified entirely by analytics. By all metrics, he was — and is — a good coach.
Doug’s play-calling lost its creativity when Frank Reich left, begging the question: who was really responsible for Carson Wentz’s MVP-caliber season? He criminally under-utilized Miles Sanders while the receiving corps looks more like the Marx Brothers than an NFL team. He refused to hire an offensive coordinator, put too much faith in Press Taylor, and demonstrated an inability to manage his relationship with Carson Wentz, a huge no-no for an NFL Head Coach.
4) Carson Wentz
Oh, Carson. The most divisive player in Philadelphia since… Terrell Owens? Some love him, others hate his guts. Whether he is your Jesus Christ Superstar or the Judas to your Godspell, he has been the centerpiece to the fall of Rome.
Carson Wentz was once an MVP-caliber quarterback, and in the ensuing years fought tooth and nail to get to the playoffs.
He can deliver a dime on a frozen rope (see here) when it matters most.
He makes passes only Mahomes can make. He is elusive in the pocket, making time when plays seem dead. The Colts very well see his 2017 production manifest itself again.
HE WAS SO, SO BAD IN 2020. LIKE, REALLY BAD. DO NOT FORGET THAT. His QBR was a tenth of a point better than Sam Darnold, making him just the second-worst QB in the league (among qualifying starters). His name is next to Jared Goff and Jameis Winston for most interceptions in the last two years. He took FIFTY — F I F T Y — sacks last season despite not starting 16 games. How many times did you scream “JUST THROW IT AWAY” at your TV last year, only to watch a sack for 12 and an ensuing 2nd and 22? At least twice a week. Worst of all, despite his embarrassing play, he had the audacity to request a trade and shut off communications with his coach. He is reportedly difficult to coach and shows an unwillingness to learn, but maybe his daddy Frank can get something out of him.
UNFORTUNATELY, ALSO TRUE:
In 20 years Carson Wentz will either have his number retired in the rafters of Indianapolis or be 15-years removed from the NFL after bouncing from team to team.
5) Final Truth: It Didn’t Have to Be This Way
In an eerily predictive soundbite, Doug Pederson once said of Wentz, “This kid’s unbelievable, the way he prepares, the way he practices, and for this city? It’s unbelievable. It’s been fun. As long as we don’t screw him up, right?”
Well, they screwed him up. Rather, everyone screwed everyone up. From the front office’s inability to surround Wentz with weapons to the medical staff’s inability to keep anyone upright, the Eagles have been bound for failure. Everything that could have gone wrong since the Super Bowl, has. Until 2020, Wentz was the exception, dragging a broken roster across the finish line with awesome December performances. This year just brought him up to speed with the rest of this toxic franchise.
Our secondary can’t intercept, our receivers can’t catch. No one knows if Jalen Hurts is the guy, or if Howie is really bone-headed enough to draft a quarterback at 6th. We have no cap space to pursue players in free agency.
This didn’t start with Carson Wentz, but it ends with him. Stomaching the $33.8 million and letting Carson go is the fifth stage of grief: acceptance. We screwed up, our team is a mess, and no one should want to come here. But by accepting that, we can start to fix it. Finger-point all you want, but everyone is to blame here. Some more than others, but the path back to the Super Bowl is not paved with vindictive pundits, it is paved with honesty and accountability.
If you need any counseling, Phillies fans have been living this nightmare for 13 years — ask them what to do.
Featured Image: Michael Bryant/Philadelphia Inquirer