Break up or make up? Wentz, Eagles need to fix it

You ever have one of those dramatic friend couples?

You know the type. One week, one half of the couple is all over social media declaring that they’ve found their soulmate with softly filtered pictures of the two of them, the next week there are complaints that their partner isn’t attentive enough and maybe it’s time to move on.

A few days later, they break up. A couple of weeks later, they’re back together with more declarations of love. A month or two passes, the cycle repeats.

It might be an imperfect comparison, but that’s how the relationship between the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz is starting to feel.

They either need to both grow up, improve themselves as individuals and commit to one another or move on to less dramatic relationships for both.

On Sunday, ESPN reported that Wentz has requested the chance to “move on” after this season if the Eagles are going to keep Jalen Hurts as the starter.

Further, it has been reported since the draft that Wentz was angry that Philadelphia took Hurts in the second round and didn’t offer a clear reason why, given that the Eagles signed Wentz to a four-year extension just 18 months ago.

Wentz felt betrayed.

Carson Wentz has reason to be upset with the Eagles, and the Eagles have reason to be upset with Carson Wentz. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Carson Wentz has reason to be upset with the Eagles, and the Eagles have reason to be upset with Carson Wentz. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

On one hand, Wentz has to suck it up. Teams draft players we might not think they “need” all the time; this is, as we hear again and again, a business. And while he started all 16 games in 2019, Wentz missed the end of the 2017 season and five games in 2018, so the Eagles may have wanted a strong backup in case Wentz got hurt again. The reality is there’s no way to predict injuries like torn ACLs, which is what ended his great year in ’17, but that has never stopped anyone from painting a player as “injury prone.”

The competitor’s answer to feeling challenged is to push harder, to sharpen their skills and show the powers that be what you’re made of, that you can be even better. Aaron Rodgers still lets the so-called indignity of being selected later than he expected in the first round of the 2005 draft reside on his shoulder as a chip; Tom Brady rarely misses a chance to remind the rest of us that he was chosen 199th overall in 2000.

Wentz this year has instead seemingly let his anger at the Eagles negatively affect his play. Among quarterbacks with at least five starts, he ranks 34th of 35 in terms of passer rating (72.8), is last in completion percentage (57.4%), and his 15 interceptions are most in the league. He has looked flat-out bad at times, and if he and Philadelphia were even marginally better they’d have a chance to win their laughingstock of a division.

When you’re mad and you want out, you show the other side what they’ll be missing, not make it easier for them to want to say goodbye.

Here’s the other side: The Eagles have done a lot wrong by Wentz.

Announcing someone is a franchise quarterback with a contract like the one Philadelphia agreed to with Wentz should carry with it a measure of respect. That’s not to say that Wentz should get to dictate which players are drafted, but a conversation offering justification for taking Hurts 53rd overall may have gone a long way toward smoothing things over before it got to this point.

Wentz has seen the Eagles do this before. Sam Bradford was 7-7 with Philly in 2015 and was on pace for the best statistical season of his career. On March 1, 2016, Bradford and the Eagles agreed to a two-year extension. Six week later, the franchise pulled off a huge trade to move up to the No. 2 spot in the draft to get Wentz.

Then there is the rest of the offense. Philadelphia’s receiving corps has been a problem for a couple of years; Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, Jalen Reagor and John Hightower aren’t really keeping defensive coordinators up at night.

The offensive line has been a rotation, with only center Jason Kelce starting every game this season. Wentz was sacked a league-high 50 times in 12 starts.

Maybe Wentz’s camp leaked the trade story to plant the seed and hope he ends up in Indianapolis, where he’d be reunited with Frank Reich, his coordinator for the first two years of his career. Philip Rivers signed just a one-year deal with the Colts.

The Wentz-Philadelphia relationship can be salvaged, but it will take both sides to commit. And for the sake of all of us, keep the drama in-house.

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