All the way back in mid-September, ahead of the Eagles’ Week 2 game, I published a post here on BGN titled “How Carson Wentz has grown and what concerns remain moving forward.” Little did I know at the time that my conversation with Joe Santoliquito would end up being very relevant for the rest of Philadelphia’s 2020 season with Wentz going through a historical regression.
I bring this up now because 1) much of what was said then still holds up in light of the Eagles trading Wentz and 2) I thought it natural to follow up with Santoliquito following recent events. And so I did just that for a special BGN Radio podcast. You can listen to the entire episode by [CLICKING HERE] or streaming below:
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I strongly recommend listening to the entire podcast but I transcribed some of the highlights for your convenience. Some interesting notes here on not only Wentz but Howie Roseman, Jeffrey Lurie, Nick Sirianni, and Jalen Hurts.
BLG: What’s your initial reaction to the Wentz trade?
SANTOLIQUITO: […] This relationship’s been … let me use the word, “tense.” It’s been tense, I think, the last two or three years. And what kind of gets me, and it’s two-fold, the blame is two-fold. The blame is on Wentz for being the petulant child that now everybody knows he can be and sometimes is. And it also falls on the Eagles and Howie Roseman. Again, because here’s this petulant child, well, what do you do with a petulant child? You slap their hand, go in the corner, calm down, this is your punishment. He never received any of that. What he did receive — and this is where the Eagles are at fault — they enabled his behavior. They enabled that entitlement. They should have put their foot down and said, no, you’re not going to turn around and run this franchise into the ground. Which, in my opinion, he did by holding this team hostage. By playing this game very much out in the public regardless of how much Wentz wants to turn around and said through different connections he doesn’t see the sense in responding right now with different things. Well, no, you should respond. You have to turn around and step up to this criticism. And what bothered guys, or at least the guys that I spoke to, their issue is he’s asking for a trade, so he’s trying to cut out on us. And secondly, he’s asking for a trade and he’s backing away from competition with Jalen Hurts. Because I don’t think you’d find Jalen Hurts backing away from Carson Wentz. Or I don’t think Carson Wentz would back away from the next coming of Joe Montana. He’s going to turn around — from what I know and what I hear about Jalen Hurts — he’s going to fight, he’s going to claw. And the last time I looked, that’s pretty much Philadelphia. That’s this fan base. That’s where people can turn around to and relate to a guy like that, as opposed to someone like Carson Wentz, and I’m going to go here with this, he ran away. And that bothered guys.
BLG: Do you think the Eagles will regret trading Carson Went at all? And I want to pick that up from our conversation from Week 2. Knowing what you know after we talked …
SANTOLIQUITO: Yeah, I know a lot more.
BLG: … and how the season devolved, do you feel even more confident that they won’t regret this trade?
SANTOLIQUITO: I don’t think the Eagles will regret this trade. I agree with a lot of things that you’re saying. I’m trying to be as fair as I can to be to Carson Wentz. The big piece that I did on PhillyVoice, Monday, February 8, the sentiment ran across these lines — that Hurts has the leadership, he has the intangibles. The leadership, the character. A guy that guys will rally around. A guy that’s never going to give up. And Wentz had all the physical skills on the planet. What’s the saying? I think the saying is the million-dollar arm and a 10-cent head. And that’s the way that many people in the organization — at least, the guys in that locker room — look at Wentz and define him that way. They had to get rid of him. It just goes back to, and it’s a great point you made in terms of this team becoming Lurie’s team. And the problem was that they handed Wentz the keys to the team, they handed him the keys to the car. And you and I have made this reference many, many, many times in terms of him a direct line to the bat phone. And here, the other guys on the team see this. And you can understand that he’s a franchise quarterback, he’s going to have more latitude to do a lot of things than other players wouldn’t have. I see that, I understand that. But here’s a guy that was only two or three years in the league and he has access to Lurie that other guys, vested veterans, didn’t have. And that can create some friction there.
BLG: Do you think Wentz can get back on track with the Colts?
SANTOLIQUITO: […] The other thing with Wentz is, this is his last stop. This is his last stop motel here. I’m going to go back to the number of guys in the league and obviously the source being the Eagles locker room. These guys all talk. Everybody’s connected in this league, one way or another. And how it was worded to me is, ‘The word’s out in the street that this guy’s a bad act.’ And he’s going to need to win over — here’s the deal. I say there was no way he was going to return back to the Eagles because he had to win over the locker room, he had to turn around and get over the schism between himself and Howie Roseman. But here, his situation in Indianapolis is this: the word’s out in the street. These guys know, a number of them already know, the bad act that Wentz has been here, from players here. I’ll say this, I feel very strongly that word’s gotten out to them in Indianapolis what kind of a guy Carson Wentz is. So he’s not only had to turn around and win back this locker room if he returned back to the Eagles. Here’s this new team, new city, Indianapolis, it’s a different setting, it’s nowhere near as intense as Philadelphia, blah, blah, blah. Those things matter to a point. But what ultimately matters is these guys here, are they willing to go to war with me? Are they going to turn around and put themselves out there for me? Like, certainly, the Eagles were willing to do with Nick Foles and like the Eagles were able to do the last four games of this season with Jalen Hurts. [Wentz] is going to need to address these guys. If I’m Frank Reich, my plan is simple. Sit down with [Press] Taylor. Sit down with Mike Groh. And himself, obviously. This is the deal, we’re all on the same page, and after you turn around and talk with us, dude, you’re going to have to talk to this team. You’re going to have to turn around and get things straight, turn around and get these guys to get on the same page with you, get these guys to believe in you. Because I have my suspicions that he’s walking into a situation where they want to believe in him, but I think there’s some doubt there. I’m just guessing with that, but my guess is a pretty good guess. That he’s going to have to address those guys. And we’ll see where it goes. What we do know, Brandon, you and I know here in the city of Philadelphia, that there were issues there. After my story, issues of accountability, issues of accessibility. He addressed those momentarily but then he resorted back to the same old Carson Wentz. The Carson Wentz who turtled up, the Carson Wentz who turned around, and, as guys brought up to me, Jalen Hurts couldn’t have gotten more coaching. If it was up to Jalen Hurts after a failed series, he’d ask the guy selling hot dogs, if they had fans in the stands, ‘Did you see what I didn’t see? What’s going on?’ He wanted input from everyone and anyone he could to become better. Where, as opposed to No. 11, he goes over, sits in the corner, resorts to his iPad, and that’s all fine. But maybe I’m going to go to over people that are going to give me help, give me some input, and help me see things that I wasn’t seeing. And we both know that he was not seeing the way he’s capable of seeing the field. And I mean that as a compliment to Carson Wentz. He didn’t see the field the way he was capable of seeing the field, and he has the ability to read a defense. He’s proven that, he’s been in the NFL long enough, he’s an intelligent guy. But suddenly now everything that he was hoping to see in himself, I think that all went to hell the second half of the season opener against Washington. The most important thing is Carson Wentz needs to look in the mirror and self-evaluate and take a look at what he’s done wrong. Here’s a quick aside. Mike Tyson was an all-time great — well, could’ve been better than he was. But there came a time in Mike Tyson’s career where he needed “No” people [as opposed to “Yes” people] around him, to point him in a better direction. And right now Carson Wentz needs “No” people around him to say, ‘No, Carson, you don’t do that, that’s not right.’ He certainly didn’t have it here with the Eagles. He certainly didn’t have it with Howie Roseman and Jeff Lurie. And he certainly didn’t have it with Press Taylor. Think about this, though, when he certainly did have it with Frank Reich and John DeFilippo, we all saw the results.
BLG: Is he going to be greatly missed in that locker room?
SANTOLIQUITO: No. No. You notice that I took like a millisecond to answer that. No. And I think this is a sense that the Eagles, as an organization, sensed as well. That they knew — they’re intelligent guys, Howie Roseman and Jeff Lurie. They never it would be a very difficult task for him to come back and be accepted. And I think they saw that at the tail end of last season. Now, this is something that’s interesting that I heard. And the only thing I heard was this: that they conversation between — this is from three different people that don’t know each other but told me the same thing, and it was very succinct, no details other than the conversation between Sirianni and Wentz did not go well. I was given nothing about it, no timeframe, no specifics as to the context of the conversation, the only thing is, the thing that I heard from three NFL people was that the conversation did not go well.
BLG: But they did talk directly?
SANTOLIQUITO: Yeah, they did speak. But the conversation didn’t do well. And I can speculate to, Wentz may have turned around and said ‘Coach Sirianni, all due respect to you, I don’t see myself coming back.’ If think you about it, that speculation might be dead accurate only for the fact that the Eagles, and Roseman, and even Lurie himself were noncommittal to Carson Wentz. Think about how they reacted to the direct questions, that were basically the same questions over and over again, and they were noncommittal to Wentz. So, there could be a lot of validity there to what I was told in reference to the conversation didn’t go well with Nick Sirianni.
BLG: So you’ve heard a lot about Carson Wentz. But do you hear things about Howie Roseman? Because that’s what people want to know.
SANTOLIQUITO: I hear he’s intelligent. I hear he asks a lot of questions. And those are the positives. I think what happened to Howie, from two major NFL people, one that used to be a former employee of the Eagles, is that when they won the Super Bowl … best thing and worst thing to happen to Howie. And you know exactly where I’m going with this. Best thing, because he helped put this team together. He helped with Joe Douglas, Joe Douglas had a major part of that. But Howie deserves credit for that. So that’s the good, that’s the best thing. The worst thing is that Howie began to think he was a hell of a lot smarter than he actually is in terms of seeing and determining what talent is. And it’s a matter of knowing your place. And maybe Howie needs a “No” guy, too. I didn’t know this until very recently. I thought Lurie was a hands off owner to a point. I thought Lurie would meddle a little bit here and there. Like, for example, I think Wentz was Lurie’s pick. And Howie Roseman did his boss’s bidding, as he’s supposed to do, and he got his boss’s pick. Arcega-Whiteside , he was a Lurie pick. And Lurie’s also a little bit guilty over the Super Bowl, having something to do with a little bit of a blown up ego. Here’s an owner in the past that would step back and let his football people do their football things. And suddenly, [it became] I’m the guy who had something to do with Carson Wentz. I might think of myself as more intelligent than I actually am. We know the 2017 season was an outlier, but it was a hell of an outlier with Wentz going 11-2 and Lurie sitting up in his beautiful club box seat going ‘That’s my guy. That’s the guy that I picked. That’s the guy that I gave Mr. Roseman the directive to get to. And now he’s doing this and doing these fine, amazing things for my team.’ Only to have it blow up in their faces three years later. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll take this mess if I’m an Eagles fan — I’m a media person, I’m not supposed to be a fan. But I will take this current mess for that Super Bowl trophy. Now, you and I were sitting together in Minneapolis during that event, and I use the word “event” because I was born and bred an Eagles fan. My only wish is, someone like my father, God rest his soul, could’ve seen that. But that was a very, very special moment that can’t be taken away, that’s going to be the experience of a lifetime, and it’s something that’s very special and something that this organization should still take a lot of pride in. But they also have to turn around, and it’s kind of funny how this has gone in terms of Wentz, again, not being accountable, feeling entitled, a twitch of arrogance — you can easily turn around and say that about the Eagles organization. And the way they’ve handled things since the Super Bowl. ‘We’re the big guys on the block. Get out of our way.’ Again, I know people from other teams. Assistant coaches. Coaches. Players. It’s more than just the fan base that the NFL doesn’t like here. It’s the Philadelphia Eagles. And it’s a little bit of Howie Roseman. Howie’s respected, to a point. But he’s also … but I’ll just say, maybe behind a few closed doors, he’s someone that people pull a little snicker-snicker and just, like, ‘Really? This guy’s a bit of a clown here. A little bit too much Johnny Big Time.’ When that Super Bowl trophy came about and he raised it up in his hands and suddenly he thinks of himself of the next coming as Vince Lombardi. They all need, they ALL need to take a step back. They’re not going to listen to a schmo like me. But they need to take a look in the mirror and look at this mess that they created. They created by entitling, by giving entitlement to a quarterback that helped ruin this situation. And they can turn around behind closed doors and whisper Wentz this, Wentz that. And by the way, you’ll start to hear those things. And don’t be surprised if those stories start to come out a little bit more and people are more bolder about going on the record with some things. Don’t be surprised if that starts to leak out. But they have to take a look at themselves and look at the mess that THEY have created. They may point a finger at Wentz being uncoachable, not accountable, arrogant. But they have been the same thing. Mr. Lurie and Mr. Roseman have not exactly been accountable to themselves. And we see that in the reflection of a 4-11-1 season. And they only have themselves to blame for all this. Because, again, we let a monster get out of control in Wentz. Well, that’s done. Good for them. And that’s why I gave [the trade] a high grade. It helps Wentz, it helps the organization. Everybody, in my opinion, wins because it cuts out a big boil on their butt. So that’s done. They now can turn the page.
Here’s another situation that they’re faced with. Talking to a couple of assistant coaches, someone tells me, ‘Nick Sirianni is a good guy, he’s an energy guy, positive attitude, sis boom bah,’ that’s all fine. But some of the guys I talked to, a little bit premature in pulling the trigger on ol’ Nick Sirianni. He might have been one or two years away. Someone who was with him when he was with the Chiefs says to me, very recently — actually, it was two people who said this to me. That he was quality control coach down there, and you know and I know that that’s the last rung of the coaching ladder. Those guys do incredible, incredible work. That’s where Sean McDermott started, there’s where Joe Judge started, that’s where Kevin Stefanski started. And these guys, it’s a tireless, thankless job. 18 hours days, there in the office, there in the building, vacation, no vacation. Guess what, when Kansas City had their vacation time, you didn’t find Nick Sirianni in the building. So, we’ll see if his ways have changed. I’d like to think that they have. And we’ll see where things are.
BLG: What are you hearing about Jalen Hurts? And are they going to draft a quarterback?
SANTOLIQUITO: No, you can’t. If they did, Jalen Hurts is not going to turtle up the way that Carson Wentz did. From what I hear about Jalen Hurts … ‘Bring it on. You’ve got a challenge for me? I don’t care.’ As I stated earlier, ‘bring on the next coming of Joe Montana, I’m going to go out and bust my tail.’ The problem, the issues that Jalen may be facing, is … talking to two SEC people, they were surprised at how much he’s improved as a passer. But they still say he lacks an NFL arm. They still say he does not have the kind of arm that Carson Wentz has. So you’re dealing with that. He still needs to grow and learn and read defenses at this NFL level. He’s entering his second season with a second coach and a second system.
- I struggle to see how there could’ve been great confidence in the Eagles fixing Wentz. I think hubris is a big problem with both sides. They need to be humbled.
- I found it interesting that Wentz and Sirianni did actually talk and the conversation didn’t go well. Not surprising, necessarily, but it’s the first we’ve heard anything about their communication.
- I found it surprising that Sirianni’s work ethic was drawn into question. Seems like he has a reputation as a grinder.
- Seems like people really can’t say enough good things about Hurts’ character. Makes me really want to see him get a fair shot at starting.