Over and over on Monday night, Carson Wentz was slow on his reads or slow on his release. It hardly mattered which. His indecisions or inability allowed Seattle defensive backs to close gaps and break up passes or linemen to wrap Wentz up for another sack (six of them in all).
Philadelphia eventually so simplified the offense that it looked like something a junior high team would run — lots of bubble screens. It was better than nothing, but only slightly.
At a couple points during the first half, Eagles coach Doug Pederson put in backup Jalen Hurts. Yet rather than make a big change, Hurts lasted only one play. Then, Wentz went back in. Once, Wentz and Hurts went to the huddle on the same play. Philly called a timeout to apparently sort it out.
Whatever was going on with Philly, it wasn’t special.
Seahawks 23, Eagles 17, Philly’s third consecutive loss as the conundrum of what to do with Carson Wentz churns on for another week … or month … or offseason.
“We're frustrated,” Wentz said afterward. “I know I’m frustrated. I hate losing. It’s very frustrating to have [these] results these last couple weeks and be where we are at this season.”
He’s the former No. 2 overall draft pick, who in 2017 went 11-2 as a starter staking the Eagles toward an eventual Super Bowl, and then, as the presumed franchise quarterback, signed a contract in 2019 worth $107.9 million guaranteed. That deal is now an albatross.
Certainly, Wentz isn’t the only problem — “we had breakdowns across the board,” Pederson acknowledged.
At his salary though, he needs to be part of the solution.
Philly and Wentz look like they’d be better apart, but the contract makes that almost impossible — the Eagles would take a $59.2 million salary-cap hit if he isn’t on the roster next season, and $24.5 million in 2022.
Then, there is the issue of who would trade for him.
Joined at the bank, they are flailing together.
Philly is a pathetic 3-7-1. Wentz has thrown 16 touchdowns and 15 picks. He has been sacked a league-leading 46 times. Tack on four lost fumbles and his combined turnovers and sack total of 68 is 17 more than any other quarterback in the league.
If he wasn’t so tough — the dude will lower a shoulder rather than slide and take hit after hit in the pocket — his teammates would probably revolt (not that they are much better). If nothing else, the guy plays hard.
Playing well is another thing. Right now, Philly and its star quarterback can’t win a division where the other projected starts this weekend are the retirement community triumvirate of Colt McCoy, Alex Smith and Andy Dalton.
Officially Wentz’s stats looked “respectable” against Seattle — 25-for-45, 215 passing yards, two touchdowns and one pick. But one TD and a bunch of those yards came via a late, meaningless (at least for competitive reasons) Hail Mary.
When the game was still winnable, Wentz was horrible. That he was playing a Seattle defense that ranked last in the NFL in passing yards allowed made it worse.
The Eagles started the game with five consecutive three-and-outs, gaining a total of 4 yards.
“I don’t think we got a first down until the second quarter,” Pederson noted, accurately.
During that stretch, Wentz was 2 for 8 passing while getting sacked twice for minus-15 yards.
Philly was left with trying to trick the Seahawks into … well, something … by occasionally, and briefly, inserting Hurts.
“Listen, when we’re stagnant like that as an offense, I’m all ears,” Wentz said. “Whatever Coach is confident in, however we can get some momentum or pick up a first down in that case.”
Wentz is 28 years old and has been in the league for five years since coming out of North Dakota State. He probably is what he is at this point. He needs to be surrounded by a lot of weapons and given a lot of time in the pocket to win.
Philly has none of that. Since winning the Super Bowl with Nick Foles as the starter filling in for an injured Wentz, the front office has tanked the roster with bad draft picks and bad signings.
Pederson, meanwhile, went 23-12 his first two years in Philadelphia, when Frank Reich was his offensive coordinator. Since Reich left to become the head coach in Indianapolis, the Eagles are 21-21-1 and trending in the wrong direction.
Stuck in the middle is Wentz, who looks so uncertain, so unsure and so unprepared once the ball is snapped that it’s a wonder anything good happens. This entire thing needs a reboot, but those rarely happen on the fly in the NFL.
The fans and media in Philadelphia aren’t exactly known for their patience — not that being accepting of a lousy team is a good thing.
Benching Wentz is a constant source of conversation.
“This is what you sign up for as the quarterback,” Wentz said. “Nothing is ever guaranteed. I never think about [getting pulled] though. I try to go out there and be the best I can be.”
About the only positive is that fans aren’t allowed inside Lincoln Financial Field. Cardboard cutouts are. The Eagles should apologize to them because this doesn’t look like a disaster that will be easy to fix.
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