PHILADELPHIA - Carson Wentz Week is here.
The former Eagles franchise quarterback is back in the NFC East after a one-year sojourn in Indianapolis, this time as the QB for the 1-1 Washington Commanders, who will host 2-0 Philadelphia on Sunday.
In the short sample size that is the 2022 season, Wentz is No. 3 among quarterbacks in total yardage with 658 and second in passing yardage with 650. Only Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa (740) and Wentz’s successor in Philadelphia, Jalen Hurts (723), have generated more offense.
The narrative of Wentz vs. Hurts is the obvious one that you’ll be reading about this week from all angles and there is sure to be revisionist history now that Hurts has developed into an early MVP candidate with a blistering start.
On Monday against a woeful Minnesota pass defense, Hurts became the first player in NFL history to throw for 300-plus yards (333) with a completion percentage above 80% (83.9%), and also produce two rushing touchdowns in the same game.
The actual story of Hurts as the 53rd pick in the 2020 draft to Philadelphia was about a cost-effective insurance policy for what had been an injury-prone player who didn’t finish the prior three seasons.
Wentz, who signed what was then the largest contract in franchise history in June of 2019, didn’t exactly take the selection well and the Eagles probably should have communicated the plan a little better as well.
The social distance of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help matters either and the disaster of the 2020 season ultimately cost coach Doug Pederson his job while Wentz demanded a trade.
When Nick Sirianni was hired in January of 2021, the original goal was to try it one more time with Wentz until it became clear that the QB wasn’t open to reconciliation.
The new coach’s marching orders only became clear after Wentz was dealt to the Colts in mid-March.
"Obviously, I was thinking about all the guys on the team and what the team was going to look like, what we were going to build and how we were going to build with [General Manager] Howie [Roseman],” Sirianni remembered when asked about the time frame by SI Eagles Today.
“Obviously, he was on the roster when I first got here, so I reached out to a lot of different guys, but it was the same process at every position.”
Sirianni’s first core coaching value is connection.
“Trying to get to know the guys first, the connection, and then trying to get to know what the guys could do when I was watching the tape,” he said. “But then everything is going to come back to, all right, I have to get my hands on the guys and figure out what they can do in person.”
Sirianni never got the chance with Wentz and he’s done wonders for Hurts so far.
Wentz seemed aloof toward Hurts, a player others generally gravitate toward.
That's by design as Hurts goes out of his way as the on-field leader to welcome players to Philadelphia.
"I think it’s something you have to do as a leader," Hurts told SI Eagles Today. "It’s something that you have to do. That’s something I always tried to do, whether it be [James] Bradberry or Chauncey [Gardner-Johnson] or anybody who comes in.
'Just welcome them because it brings you so much more comfort, and it’s easier to build that relationship that camaraderie, the type of team bonds that you need."
Hurts defaulted to the high road when asked about Wentz on Wednesday.
“I think any time you have the opportunity to be on a team like that with a player like him and coaches like we had, with their experience, it’s always a learning and teachable moment,” said Hurts. “And that’s every opportunity I have, I try to learn from everything that I put myself into, or every position that I’m in. And I learned a lot.
“It’s something that I preach to my teammates a lot, the younger guys now. Take advantage of the opportunities you have when you’re not playing because it pays dividends in the end. You just have to be patient, be a sponge and soak it all in.”
It’s clear, though, that the two aren’t all that close personally but there’s no ill will either.
“There’s definitely a mutual respect between the two of us,” Hurts insisted. “When he went to Indy and now here, definitely a mutual respect and I wish him nothing but the best.”
When pressed about the personal relationship Hurts kept things in-house: “I’m just going to say, I think we’re focused on the now. I’m focused on the now.”
For his part, Wentz expressed regrets from his new place of employment.
“There’s always things I look back on, ‘Man, I could’ve been better here, better as a person, better as a teammate,” he said.
Set to turn 30 late this year, Wentz now looks back on his time in Philadelphia with some reverence.
“It’s quite the city, it's quite the fanbase, it’s quite the experience,” he said. “I cherish my time there.
“... So I’m excited for [the game]. But again, you try not to make the game bigger than it needs to be."
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Sports. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talker Jody McDonald, every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube.com and JAKIBSports.com. You can reach John at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen