You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to be helped.
We’ve all known people like this. Some people, no matter how badly life has spiraled out of control for them, will simply refuse help. Perhaps pride gets in the way. Sometimes, it’s ignorance. And although you may want nothing more than to help someone overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of their achieving true happiness, fulfillment or health, some people just don’t want your help when you try to offer it, no matter how much they might need it.
Which brings us to the interesting case of Carson Wentz.
He was awful in 2020. Everyone saw it. Where Wentz was once a dynamic playmaker who stingily limited turnovers and made big plays, he became an interception and sack-taking machine and was the second-worst rated quarterback in the NFL. He was deservedly replaced as starter by second round pick Jalen Hurts midway through the team’s 11th game of the season and spent the rest of the season on the bench.
Carson Wentz earned his spot on the pine and probably should have been placed there weeks beforehand.
Now that Doug Pederson has been fired, the biggest question facing the Eagles this off-season concerns the future of their “franchise” QB. When Jeff Lurie spoke to the media two weeks ago, he seemed uncommitted to Wentz as the face of the franchise but also reluctant to rip off the band-aid and move on without him. He said he believed Wentz was “fixable,” but also repeatedly referred to him as an “asset,” as if he would be a valuable trade chip for the Birds’ impending rebuild.
Over the weekend, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane published a report that characterized both Wentz and the 2020 coaching staff in an unflattering light. McLane reported Wentz “rebuffed advice” and “defied criticism,” that when Carson made mistakes he made “irrelevant excuses,” and that Wentz often defied Pederson with “bizarre [play] kills that made no sense and effectively was going rogue.”
Stupid is as stupid does.
Our actions and attitudes are most often the clearest indicator of our intelligence, both emotional and intellectual and, if McLane’s piece is accurate (and there’s no reason to think it’s not), Wentz behaved rather stupidly in 2020.
The timing of the report is less than ideal as the Eagles search for Pederson’s replacement, a coaching search that expands more with each passing day. And even with no public declaration that Wentz will continue to be the team’s signal caller in 2021, the front office is reportedly telling candidates that they believe Wentz can be fixed.
From @NFLGameDay: The #Eagles are interviewing #Patriots OC Josh McDaniels today, have a request in for #Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy... and have told candidates they believe Carson Wentz is fixable. pic.twitter.com/3s5SaPGN1o— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 17, 2021
Perhaps he can. Wentz’ upside remains his now long-ago 2017 season, but even a return of the 2018 and ‘19 versions of Wentz, this time with real talent around him, would be good enough to take the Eagles to the postseason and perhaps even further.
But in order for any new head coach to actually “fix” Carson Wentz, one thing absolutely must happen.
Carson Wentz has to admit he was a big part of the problem. He has to humble himself and submit to coaching.
Carson has to admit that he actually does need some help.
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
While the Eagles’ skill position players have been less-than-stellar these last three seasons, and while Howie Roseman has utterly failed to provide his quarterback with top shelf talent at wide receiver, and while the offensive line that was once so dominant has crumbled before our eyes, Wentz was worse than he had any right to be. His mechanics have deteriorated, his body language has regressed, and once he started dropping his eyes to watch the pass rush instead of his receivers down the field in the Green Bay game, it became clear he could no longer function as the team’s quarterback.
Fixing Carson Wentz presupposes he is cognizant of his role in last year’s disaster. It assumes he will stop making excuses for his play, his missed reads, and his inability to take ownership. Logically, a “fixable” Carson Wentz would have to be willing to listen to his new head coach, whomever it may be.
McLane’s report clarified the rumored friction between Wentz and Pederson, and it was discouraging to see. Pederson is, by all accounts, one of the most humble and inclusive head coaches in the NFL and it was disturbing to read that Wentz effectively audibled out of play calls made by Pederson just because he felt like it. Wentz’ actions come off as childish and tone deaf.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. - Proverbs 11:2
Perhaps there is a side to the story we haven’t heard. After all, Wentz has not spoken to the media since the season ended and, at the time of this writing, has not addressed the items in McLane’s article. Right now, the only thing we have to go on are the leaked reports seemingly from Wentz’ camp that he wanted to be traded if Pederson remained as head coach and that there was a fracturing of their relationship.
How can the next head coach reasonably assume a similar fracture won’t occur between him and Wentz if he attempts to challenge Carson? Will the front office actually allow this next head coach to take a more heavy-handed approach with him? Will the new head coach be allowed to hire assistants who will tell Wentz not just what he wants to hear, but what he needs to hear?
And even if all that happens, if Wentz’ stubbornness isn’t softened by the humiliation of a 4-11-1 season in which he was a mere one-tenth of a point away from tying Sam Darnold for the worst passer rating in the NFL, it doesn’t matter who the Eagles hire, unless that coach is given the freedom to bench Wentz and move onto Hurts for good in 2021.