What's Wrong with Carson Wentz?
Something is off with Carson Wentz.
The Eagles quarterback has not looked like he did prior to the previous two games.
“I felt good mentally,” said Wentz, following Sunday's 17-9 loss to the Seattle Seahwaks.
“Mentally, I think that everything was good. We were right there. Physically, I just missed some throws.”
Missed some throws, threw two interceptions and fumbled three times, losing two, and now the hometown crowd is showering him with boos. Wentz heard the boobirds after several empty possessions and after his costly turnovers.
“You never want to hear it, but it is what it is,” said Wentz. “That’s this city, that’s the fan base. I’m frustrated too when we’re playing like that, so they have every right – how when we are playing poorly – to let us know.”
There are excuses that could be made for Wentz’s substandard play the past two weeks: Injuries, windy days, pass catchers who struggle to catch, lack of weapons, and a wrist or hand injury that forced Wentz into the locker room during the game for an X-ray, which came back negative for anything broken, though more tests will be done on Monday.
An excuse that cannot be used is that Wentz ran into a good defense on Sunday.
Against New England, you write off the struggles because they came against the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
Not so with Seattle. The Legion of Boom days are over, and the Seahawks entered the game ranked 24th as a defense.
Head coach Doug Pederson said last week that Wentz could be pressing, and pretty much said it again on Sunday.
“It’s hard sometimes,” said Pederson. “Playing that position is tough, anyway. Obviously, a lot of pressure and a lot of – we ask a lot of our quarterback and a lot of Carson, and the one thing you can’t do in that position is just put pressure on yourself to perform
“You’ve just got to let things unfold, and sometimes you can do that. I think sometimes you feel like the offense is struggling, you feel like you have to make a play, and you’ve just got to let kind of the game unfold, let the offense unfold, just let everybody work for you and don’t feel like you got to make every play.”
There’s more to it than that.
Wentz shouldn’t be this bad.
His body of work has shown that he is an above average quarterback, one who has the potential for greatness because he seems to possess all the attributes a quarterback needs to be great.
Nobody seems to have the key to unlock that greatness, though.
These last two games may very well be the worst two games he has ever played.
Is it mechanics?
"We always kind of study that throughout the week," said Wentz. "Obviously as the season goes, it can be harder to focus on those, but we always talk about them and work through them."
Is it coaching, starting with quarterbacks coach Press Taylor, who, at 31, is just five years older than Wentz, and trickling up to offensive coordinator Mike Groh and Pederson?
Wentz certainly seemed to enjoy his best year in 2017 when he had John DeFilippo as his quarterbacks coach and Frank Reich as his offensive coordinator.
Both men are gone and so it seems is Wentz’s comfort level.
Kevin Burkhardt made a curious comment on the telecast, saying that Pederson told him the coaching staff has to continue to show Wentz where to throw the ball.
One of the things the Eagles liked about Wentz coming out of North Dakota State was his brain. He had never gotten anything lower than an ‘A’ in any class during high school or college.
Now, suddenly it’s an issue?
That makes no sense, but then again, neither does Wentz’s play of late.
“It's not about one guy,” said Pederson. “But obviously our quarterback is a big part of our success and the things we do. Sometimes, even as a play caller, you've just got to get back to some of the basic plays, some of the things you have a lot of time invested on and get back to that and try to get something going.”
Ultimately, Wentz’s struggles could be all of the above, but at the top of the list is probably coaching.
If Pederson can’t figure out how to get Wentz to at least be above average again, this Eagles season will be history after these final five regular season games.