Several members of the Eagles defended Carson Wentz on Monday and pushed back on a scathing report that claimed the quarterback was a “selfish” player whose “egotistical” tendencies caused Philadelphia’s offense to be less efficient than it was under backup Nick Foles. “Our locker room stands behind him all the way,” tight end Zach Ertz wrote on Twitter.
An allegedly excessive focus on Ertz as a passing target was among the many criticisms of Wentz levied by anonymous teammates and other sources close to the Eagles in a report published Monday by Philly Voice. The focus on Ertz was viewed as a reflection of the third-year quarterback’s habit of playing favorites instead of going through the passing progressions designed by Coach Doug Pederson and his staff, and Wentz was described as reacting poorly to the success enjoyed by Foles, who claimed Super Bowl MVP honors after taking over late in the 2017 season.
A similar dynamic unfolded this season, with a back injury sidelining Wentz, a year after his season was ended by a severe knee injury. Once again the Eagles played well under Foles, going 4-1 in his starts as opposed to 5-6 with Wentz. According to the Voice’s sources, while Wentz “didn’t want to run many of the concepts, because he felt that was ‘Foles’ stuff,’ … as anyone who watched the Eagles could see, Foles and the Eagles’ offense was successful running their ‘normal stuff.’”
“Carson Wentz’s biggest enemy is Carson Wentz,” a source told the Voice. “He’s had his ass kissed his whole life, and sometimes acts like he’s won 10 Super Bowls, when he hasn’t played in, let alone won, a playoff game yet. Everyone around him wants good things for him. He did more thinking on the field than he did playing [in 2018]. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon or a football expert to see how differently this team plays and reacts with one guy as opposed to the other."
In response, Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson tweeted, “Whoever wrote that article needs to check their ‘sources’.” He added the hashtag “#fakenews” and wrote, “Carson has been and is our leader and our QB. Y’all know where to find me if you have any issues.”
“I’ll go to war any day of the week and twice on Sunday with guys like Carson Wentz,” center Jason Kelce told the Morning Call in a text message.
“Don’t believe everything you read!!! Carson has been nothing but a GREAT person, GREAT teammate and GREAT leader since Day 1,” wrote Ertz, who set an NFL single-season record for tight ends with 116 catches, at least 51 more than any teammate. “We can’t wait to get back to work and be the best team we can be in 2019!”
Wentz, 26, was also described in the report as being “uncompromising,” unhappy about being “questioned” and failing to “practice what he preaches” and “to take accountability.” He was said to “complicate” the Eagles' offense unnecessarily, frequently pulling the ball away from running backs and choosing to throw to Ertz, which “would frustrate the offensive line, the running backs and the wide receivers — basically everyone on the field at the time, with the exception of Wentz and Ertz,” as the Voice put it.
Eagles blog Bleeding Green Nation argued Monday that, after going over the numbers, Wentz did not appear to have targeted Ertz much more than Foles did, nor did he ignore the team’s other primary pass-catchers, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, to any notable degree. According to the site, Ertz saw 26.4 percent of Wentz’s targets and 24.4 percent of Foles’s, while Jeffery (20.3-19.0) and Agholor (15.0-17.3) also did not experience a great disparity under the two quarterbacks.
Philadelphia’s third-string quarterback, Nate Sudfeld, posted a note to Twitter in which he said, “I’m around Carson arguably more than anybody on the team and I feel obligated to say how false and simply wrong the claims about him are.” Calling Wentz “one of the best leaders and teammates I’ve been around,” Sudfeld asserted, “He’s handled the last two years with such grace and poise and has NEVER put anything above the Philadelphia Eagles.”
“Carson through the first three years has been nothing but a great teammate trying to get better each and every day, trying to make others better each and every day, trying to make this team better each and every day,” Kelce said in his comments to the Morning Call. “And when the dust has settled, his legacy will be one of an incredible competitor and teammate who laid it on the line each and every day for the guy next to him, and a man who did everything he could to help this team succeed.”
Wentz was earning praise as a strong candidate for NFL MVP honors when he got injured in 2017, but Foles’s success has prompted some speculation that the Eagles might be better off sticking with the 30-year-old veteran and trading away their young star. However, Pederson reiterated last week that Wentz would be the team’s starter “going forward.”
Philadelphia and Foles have decisions to make, as the team has until mid-February to exercise a $20 million option on him, while he can decline it and pay back $2 million to become a free agent. “We would love to keep Nick Foles,” executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said last week. “You talk about a guy who we drafted here and we’ve grown incredibly close with. I don’t know a team that wouldn’t want to have Nick Foles on their roster."
(H/T Bleeding Green Nation)
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