PHILADELPHIA - The autopsy on the Carson Wentz era in Philadelphia has come back undetermined.
Maybe the former No. 2 overall pick just wasn't the same physically after his torn ACL and LCL, a stress fracture in his back, and a concussion Wentz himself labeled as "scary." Then there were the perceived mechanical issues in which the QB's technique and footwork seemed to slide once John DeFilippo left the organization.
Finally, there was the Eagles' then-curious selection of Jalen Hurts with the No. 53 overall pick in the 2020 draft, either an attempt to acquire a cost-effective backup for a player they agreed to give $107 million in guaranteed money 10 months earlier or an insurance policy for the oft-injured QB or what was unthinkable at the time: Wentz regressing to the point the organization would jettison him and eat nearly $34M to do so.
The latter was either bad luck or a self-fulfilling prophecy that created doubt in Wentz's mind.
What we do know is that Wentz was both surprised and befuddled by the selection of Hurts considering he was 27 at the time and presumably in the prime of his career.
You know the results now and perhaps if we did get the Dr. Michael Baden of football to offer up an official cause of death for the Wentz era it would be filled with co-morbidities - the injuries, the fast and loose attitude toward technique, and the mental aspect of being spooked by the sudden appearance of another young signal-caller with promise in the organization.
Wentz, now the starting QB in Indianapolis, recently spoke to Valley News Live in North Dakota while back in the state for his annual AO1 softball game and talked passionately about mental health.
"I think that’s so important for everybody, but especially in the NFL with all the pressures and all the things that get thrown at us it’s definitely been acceptable," said Wentz. "You see guys being honest and open and vulnerable, not all the time, but it’s becoming a little bit more normal and OK and I think it’s encouraging for people to see that, you know, us big strong football players can be vulnerable, can be real people that go through real stuff and that it’s OK to say ‘I’m struggling.’”
Whether Wentz was speaking about himself and what went on in a frenzied football market like Philadelphia last season where every throw is put under a microscope can be debated, but it's becoming more and more evident that the now sixth-year player is feeling more comfortable back in the Midwest with the Colts and his former offensive coordinator with the Eagles, Indy head coach Frank Reich.
“I really feel like I have a new passion for the game,” said Wentz. “I’ve been high, I’ve been injured, I’ve been benched, I’ve been traded, I’ve kinda seen a lot in five years, so whatever the game throws at me I’m ready.”
And mental health seems to be a big part of the plan for Wentz.
"It’s sad that it wasn’t socially acceptable, but I think it’s more understood because I think everyone can relate,” the QB said. “I think it’s OK, and people are realizing that it’s OK, to not be OK and to talk about it.
"Everyone’s got somebody in their life, whether it’s a counselor, teammate, friend, brother, wife, pastor, whatever that is, and if they don’t have that hopefully they can find that. I’ve been fortunate to have people in my life when things are going south or I’m struggling, to have an honest conversation, to refocus and reframe my mindset."
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.