January 10, 2022
The Carson Wentz Era in Philly came to an end just under 11 months ago when the Eagles acquiesced to the embattled quarterback's trade demand and shipped him off to Indianapolis for a reunion with former Birds offensive coordinator Frank Reich, now the Colts head coach.
But despite Wentz playing in a different city and in a different conference, Eagles fans never really lost sight of their former QB — and for good reason. Wentz's playing time, something that became an issue in Philly due to various injuries that were not his fault, was directly tied to the trade compensation the Eagles would get back. If the 29-year-old passer played more than 75% of the snaps (or 70% while securing a playoff berth), the second-round pick the Colts included in that deal would magically become a first, giving Howie Roseman and the Eagles a third first-round pick.
Everyone knows what happened next, with Wentz playing nearly 100% of the snaps for the Colts, who after a slow start to the season turned things around in the middle portion and looked prime to make a playoff run with rushing champ Jonathan Taylor leading the way. Turns out, it's a good thing Wentz crossed that 75% threshold with a few weeks to spare, because the Colts suffered an epic collapse under Wentz. After a surprise win over Arizona on Christmas Day, Indy lost back-to-back games to finish out the year, including an embarrassing season-ending loss to the lowly Jaguars on Sunday that all but sealed the deal for the Colts, who were officially eliminated shortly after.
Needless to say, Eagles fans got the last laugh here.
Not only did they get to watch Wentz crumble in the spotlight, already knowing that they'd be getting a first-round pick back for a quarterback who has now failed to win a playoff game in each of his first six seasons in the NFL, but they also got to do so with the knowledge that Hurts and the Eagles will be playing in the postseason after shocking many and earning the NFC's seventh and final wild card spot.
But this is really a turning point for Eagles fans and their relationship with their former quarterback. Some felt like there was an odd obsession that Eagles fans had with Wentz, but that was only partially true. The real obsession was with the trade compensation — and perhaps just a little schadenfreude, which again reared its head on Sunday with Wentz falling in Jacksonville. Now, however, with the trade official and Wentz's cap hit coming off the Eagles books this offseason, Philly fans can finally ignore Wentz entirely. Of course, the Birds play the Colts next season, but there's no guarantee that Wentz is still there when that happens.
Before officially closing the book on Wentz (at least until he gets traded again) let's take a look at what the local media on both sides, from Philly to Indy, as well as those nationally are saying. And it ain't pretty, especially if you're a Colts fans. But since you're likely an Eagles fan reading this... eat your hearts out.
Before getting to the Indy media who actually have to deal with this Wentz fiasco and Colts collapse, let's take a look at what some members of the local media who covered the QB in Philly have to say, starting with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank...
With so much at stake, Wentz came up incredibly small, turning in the kind of performance that’s become all too common for him in recent years. ...
According to Stathead, this was the first time the Colts lost as a favorite of 14 ½ or more points since 1968, when they were 18-point favorites over Joe Namath and the Jets in Super Bowl III at the Orange Bowl but lost 16-7. ...
Say what you will about Howie Roseman, the Eagles robbed the Colts in this deal, ridding themselves of Wentz and gaining a 1st-round pick that at worst will be No. 18 in the 2022 draft this spring as well as a 3rd-round pick in this past draft that indirectly became Milton Williams.
The Colts have now lost seven straight games in Jacksonville. Since 2015, the Jaguars are 7-0 at home vs. the Colts and 26-80 in all other games.
Wentz is the first quarterback in NFL history drafted with a top-10 pick to start at least 80 games in his first six seasons but not start and finish a playoff game during that span. [nbcsports.com]
[NOTE: The pick from the Colts (84th overall) was actually used as part of the trade back up for DeVonta Smith and not used to pick Milton Williams. That was the Eagles' own pick.]
I think it's safe to say Carson Wentz did more for the Eagles this year while playing for the Colts than he did in all of 2020 — not to mention what him playing elsewhere did for the overall sanity of Philly fans.
Bringing it back to Wentz, he was an absolute disaster for the Colts in Jacksonville. He completed just 58.6% of his attempts for 185 yards (6.4 average), 1 TD, 1 INT, and a 74.6 passer rating.
Wentz’s one score came in garbage time. And his passing numbers don’t show that he had a really bad fumble that was recovered by the Jags. (Not to mention another pick that was fortunately ruled incomplete.)
Watching a meltdown like that, one can only be thankful that the Eagles were able to fleece the Colts for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 first-round pick. As a reminder, the Eagles used Indy’s third last year to move up from No. 12 to No. 10 to select DeVonta Smith.
The Eagles kindly thank Wentz and the Colts for their help. [bleedinggreennation.com]
In Indy, the big conversation sounds a lot like the postseason talk in Philly last year: Where do we go from here? After just a season with Wentz, some are already beginning to believe it's time to look elsewhere.
For weeks, Jonathan Taylor’s brilliance, opportunistic defensive play and a mirage of a fourth quarter in Arizona allowed Indianapolis to mask the fact that the starting quarterback it traded to get this offseason was collapsing.
Wentz hit rock bottom on Sunday in Jacksonville.
Inaccurate, indecisive and reckless, Wentz completed 17 of 29 passes for 185 yards, took six sacks and made two back-breaking plays that sealed the Colts’ fate. ...
That [big-play] dynamic disappeared outside of the final drive in Arizona, and Wentz’s worst qualities became magnified, the same way Jacoby Brissett’s worst qualities came to the forefront in 2019. Indianapolis stopped getting explosive passing plays, Wentz struggled with his accuracy, and in the two biggest games of the season, Wentz killed the Colts.
Wentz’s collapse now leaves Indianapolis with quarterback questions for the fifth consecutive year, albeit without a first-round pick and with a ton of prohibitive dead money on the salary cap. [indystar.com]
It's not just Indy writers who are wondering about Wentz's future. National writers, like CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin, are also wondering what the future holds for Wentz and whether or not the Colts will ultimately decide to move on after one failed season. After all, there's more than enough of a track record here...
Wentz, in particular, had a big hand in the season-ending defeat, with a pair of second-half turnovers. His 2021 numbers were respectable on the surface: 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in a winning 18-game season. But the former Eagles signal-caller also missed big chunks of practice time this year, whether due to offseason foot surgery or multiple battles with COVID-19 without a vaccine. And he was notably uneven in Indy's divisional matchups.
There's no denying Wentz is a serviceable starter; he proved, with a change of scenery, that his 2020 turnover spree in Philly was an anomaly. But we now have plenty of evidence that his 2017 MVP run was also an anomaly. Colts general manager Chris Ballard, meanwhile, isn't going to rush to judgment here a year after spending a first- and third-round pick to acquire Wentz.
Still, in an unprecedented time of veteran QB movement, it's fair to wonder if Colts brass have any buyer's remorse and, more importantly, any realistic paths to upgrade under center. [cbssports.com]
Gregg Doyel, who hasn't been shy about ripping Wentz this season, thought Colts coach Frank Reich gave an interesting postgame answer about his QB, and it was more about what wasn't said than what was said...
Hang on. This is important. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part – you know how I feel about Carson Wentz, and if you don’t, try Google – but Frank Reich didn’t seem enamored with Carson Wentz after the game, and Wentz didn’t exactly have Reich’s back, either. Look, if I’m misreading what they said about each other, so be it. ...
Almost immediately [Reich's] asked about Wentz, and he won’t touch it. We all know Wentz isn’t the strongest dude, mentally, and Reich doesn’t want to crush him now with the truth. The numbers are bad enough: Wentz was 17-for-29 for 185 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 74.6 passer rating that would rank last in the NFL over the course of a season. And the numbers lie, because Wentz was much worse than that for most of the game. He was 6-for-13 for 70 yards approaching the fourth quarter, saving his final stat line with a long drive in garbage time when the score was 26-3.
Same thing happened last week, by the way. After missing the week of practice with COVID, Wentz was horrible except for a two-minute drive to end the half against a soft Raiders prevent defense. ...
Later, asked a more direct question – Did Carson do enough to be brought back? – Reich answered like so:
“I think Carson did a lot,” he said. “We’re a team. He’s our quarterback. I think there were a lot of bright moments for him. There were a lot of bright spots on this team in general.”
Did you hear “yes” in there? Me neither. [indystar.com]
After a night to sleep on it, Reich's answer didn't get much better...
Reich declined to say whether or not Wentz will be the starter in 2022, said he's not going to evaluate players individually.— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAErickson) January 10, 2022
I'm going to go back and look later, but it does feel like that's different than what he said about Rivers at this time last year.
Carson Wentz was further down Bob Kravitz's list of people to blame for this loss, although the first person he mentioned was GM Chris Ballard, and his decision to trade for Wentz certainly was a part of that, but there's no mistaking that the QB played a major role in the Colts' end-of-season collapse.
Ohhhhh … Carson.
I’m like everybody else with Wentz; I turn every Sunday into a referendum. Some weeks he pulls off a few plays like the ones he made in the fourth quarter in Arizona and I think there’s a real future for him here. And then he plays the way he’s played the last two weeks — simply the two most important weeks of his professional football life — and he’s abysmal.
Wentz was an albatross around the neck of the offense in three of the final four weeks. It’s not good enough just to protect the ball, as Wentz did most of this season; you’ve got to make plays, and while he seems to have the physical talent to be special, something is missing. (Yes, Philly fans: You told us so … )
Seventeen games, the Colts played this season. Seventeen games and I still don’t quite know what to make of Wentz. But what can they do? He’s still under contract, still expensive, and they still gave up two draft picks for him. They almost have no choice but to forge ahead and hope/pray he has more to give. But in the biggest moment, there he was with another one of those desperate fumbles and a gimme interception that put the game out of reach. [theathletic.com]
Cutting Wentz would actually cost the Colts $15 million (his guaranteed salary from the contract he signed with the Eagles) in dead cap space, but overall it would still be a savings of $13 million overall against the cap. And his salary is non-guaranteed in 2023 and 2024, so moving on from the QB, despite the first-round pick given up to acquire him isn't totally out of the question.
The issue right now facing the Colts is that the team surrendered a 2022 first round pick and more in draft capital, as well as a $20.4M cap hit this past season—which only grows. Clearly the team expected more from Wentz to finish the season than to be a sub-par game manager, only handing the ball off to Taylor, but who couldn’t be counted on with any sort of confidence late in the year to make routine plays in the passing game.
However, the Colts’ top leadership has to treat that 2022 first round pick like a sunk cost, as it’s already gone, and definitively cut their losses if a clear upgrade over Wentz actually presents itself (i.e, the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers or Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson actually become available). With a projected $53.4M of total team cap space (and potentially saving $13.3M more if cutting Wentz), the Colts cannot be completely ruled out of going ‘QB hunting’ again for the third straight offseason.
They’d be foolish not to consider it, as Wentz’s shakiness late in the year raises serious concern of whether he’s the franchise’s long-term answer at the position—or even in 2022. [stampedeblue.com]
While most people were taking the opportunity to pounce on Wentz, Crossing Broad's Kevin Kinkead took a different approach, mainly because while he thought the criticism was fair, there was a not insignificant percentage of people who were simply crossing the line.
Everybody was dunking on Wentz and taking that victory lap. It was all over the timeline, and Eagles fans should absolutely celebrate the fact that the Birds won the Wentz trade and ended up with a solid first round draft pick for a guy who reportedly asked out. He didn’t want to be here anymore, and for that he deserves the criticism after being paid handsomely in Philadelphia and then essentially quitting on the franchise.
But there are levels to the game, and the irrational, seething, juvenile Carson Wentz hate from Eagles fans is corny. It’s not run-of-the-mill Philly sports fan ragging; it’s an obsessive and weird type of rancor, like it’s personal even though you don’t know the guy. He played quarterback for a football team, right? He wasn’t running up drug prices like pharma bro Martin Shkreli. He wasn’t your high school bully.
It’s absolutely true that Carson stunk up the joint in 2020, but we’re talking about the same guy who got the Eagles to 11-2 the year your team finally won the Super Bowl. People always say “he didn’t even play in the playoffs” as if we didn’t know that... For that reason, I can’t rip the guy too much, unlike the dumbest corner of Eagles Twitter. You’ve got grown men on there who go erect every every time Carson throws an incomplete pass, and then have to let everybody know about it on the world’s dumbest website. It amounts to goofy overkill. [crossingbroad.com]
As Kevin mentioned, there's petty and then there's Philly petty. But what he's referring to was something else. Hopefully, with Wentz now officially in the rearview with him coming off the books and the trade being finalized, Eagles fans can turn the page.
We're not saying we'll never write about Wentz on this site again — that's a silly promise to make — it does feel a bit like the end. Maybe it's the end for Wentz too?
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