Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz struggled mightily during the 2020 season, with his poor play leading to a 4-11-1 record and looming changes coming this offseason. While Doug Pederson is now out of the building, more alarming problems could still exist in Philadelphia.
Benched in Week 13 with a league-high 15 interceptions and 50 sacks, Pederson seemingly tried to save the team’s season by starting Jalen Hurts. While the rookie showed flashes early on, the Eagles still finished at the bottom of the NFC East and the coach’s decision created a fractured relationship with Wentz.
Pederson was fired on Jan. 11, just weeks after the Super Bowl-winning coach seemed safe. The move was deemed necessary by team owner Jeffrey Lurie, who is now seeking a head coach to spark this organization and offense. While firing Pederson may solve some decisions, erasing the source of some poor in-game decisions, it seems deep-rooted issues may still exist at quarterback.
Carson Wentz tuned out Doug Pederson, teammates called for his benching
Ultimately, the Eagles chose Carson Wentz over Doug Pederson this offseason. When the Pro Bowl quarterback threatened to demand a trade this offseason, the Eagles forced an ultimatum. Either they fired the head coach who won a Super Bowl with backup quarterback Nick Foles or took a $33.8 million cap hit by trading Wentz for little return this offseason.
The decision was made, with the team’s struggles and Wentz’s regression landing on Pederson’s shoulders. As Philadelphia conducts its next search for a head coach, though, whoever takes this job may have some alarming issues to deal with that may have played a role in this 2020 season.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane released an eye-opening story on Saturday, detailing issues that went on during the 2020 season. Among them, per multiple NFL and team sources, Wentz caused a lot of problems for the coaching staff and played a significant role in his own struggles.
While Pederson and Wentz’s relationship was likely destroyed permanently after Jalen Hurts took over as the starter, issues may have started long before that.
“There was a disconnect even before Wentz was benched, though. Pederson would call a play only for his quarterback to occasionally kill it for no other reason than his personal distaste, sources said,” Jeff McLane wrote, via The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It became “a pissing match” between the two, one of the sources said.”
It’s not like Wentz’s decision to operate on his own, ignoring Pederson’s calls, worked out for the quarterback. He completed just 57.4% of his pass attempts this season, the lowest mark in his career and the second-worst completion rate in the NFL. Meanwhile, despite playing in only 12 games, he still finished with a league-high 15 interceptions.
The Eagles certainly dealt with a number of injuries, including on the offensive line. While it played a role in him being sacked 50 times, most in the NFL, blame can’t fall entirely on his protection. Sacks are also a product of a quarterback holding onto the football too long.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, a coaching analysis was conducted during the bye week to determine the major causes behind Wentz being sacked 32 times at that point. It was determined that he was responsible for nearly two-thirds of the sacks with one offensive lineman even suggesting to coaches that Hurts be named the starter due to his ability to handle pressure better.
Wentz’s issues weren’t limited to the field. In quarterback meetings, he reportedly created excuses to justify mistakes he made during games. When coaches showed him what he did wrong and offers were made to correct the issues in practice, Wentz reportedly objected to the idea.
McLane’s piece further details Wentz’s resistance to strong coaching and his unwillingness to shoulder blame for the team’s struggles and his role in the problems.
Despite it all, Wentz seems to have the support of Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman. So, barring an unexpectedly strong trade offer from another team, he will be back under center as the starting quarterback in 2021.