Once upon a time in Philadelphia, Carson Wentz led the Eagles to a record of 11-2 while putting up MVP-caliber numbers. The birds went on to defeat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Super Bowl 52. Philadelphia finally had their ring, and they also had their quarterback of the future and the face of their franchise moving forward. Or so they thought.
A whole lot has changed for the Eagles since that incredible championship run in 2017-2018, which at this point feels like it almost never happened. Since an ACL tear put an abrupt end to his magical sophomore campaign, Wentz suffered a season-ending back injury in 2018-2019, and a concussion in the first quarter of last season’s wildcard matchup against Seattle. For the past few seasons following his initial ACL tear, the major knock on Carson Wentz was his inability to stay healthy, his more or less average play leading up to this season was attributed to constantly having to deal with these injuries and players being hurt all throughout the offense.
While these factors have certainly affected Wentz’s production, what has taken place with Wentz under center this season tells an entirely different story. Simply put, Wentz has been absolutely atrocious. He has led all quarterbacks in turnovers and sacks taken for much of the season and is averaging an abysmal quarterback rating of 49.2. But one could argue that his stats, which are undeniably awful, do not fully capture the extent of his poor play. Often, Wentz has looked completely lost playing the quarterback position, unable to read defenses, making terrible decisions with the ball, and missing open receivers in key situations. Two weeks ago against the Seahawks, he threw an interception on fourth down in the red zone that was so bad it almost looked like a fair catch for the defensive back.
Wentz’s frustrating play down the stretch led to a benching late in Week 13’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. Rookie second-round draft pick Jalen Hurts replaced Wentz and gave the offense a spark they hadn’t had in months, which he carried over to his first career NFL start this past Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Hurts looked solid and poised against the number one defense in the league, putting up over 100 yards both on the ground and through the air, as he helped the Eagles shock a team vying for a first-round bye in the playoffs. Many criticized Philly for drafting Hurts so high in the draft, but thus far the rookie has been impressive and will get the start next week against the Arizona Cardinals.
So, is the logical answer for the Eagles to move on from Wentz and see where Hurts can take them moving forward? Well, it isn’t that easy. Over the summer, the Eagles paid Wentz big-time with a four-year, 128 million dollar contract. The deal includes 70 million dollars guaranteed, which would become dead money against the salary cap if Wentz is not on the roster over the next two seasons. Even if the Eagles tried to move Wentz via a trade, it would be tough for any organization to take on that type of contract for a guy who just led the league in all the wrong statistical categories.
What is the answer then? At the moment, team sources have said that the Eagles plan to keep Wentz with the hope that he will be able to return to being a franchise quarterback in the future. Still, there is no clear path for this organization to take in what has been a season that has jeopardized the team’s long-term plans. Will the Eagles ever have the old Carson Wentz back? It just Hurts to even think about it.