Hall of Fame Quarterback Discusses Carson Wentz
ATLANTA - One year ago the Philadelphia Eagles were in Minneapolis finalizing their plans to defeat the New England Patriots and win Super Bowl LII. In the last 12 months, Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz watched as Nick Foles raised the Super Bowl MVP trophy and went through the offseason playing the role of the week one starter.
Wentz hit his rehab hard and pushed himself to return to the starting lineup. He got that job back when he was medically cleared to play in week three. He played in 11 games this season completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for more than 3,000 yards. Wentz tossed 21 touchdowns against seven interceptions. However, a back injury ended his season and Foles returned to the starting lineup.
Wentz once again watched as Foles led the Eagles back to the postseason and a playoff win in Chicago over the Bears.
A couple of weeks after the Eagles were eliminated by the New Orleans Saints, a report surfaced on PhillyVoice featuring several anonymous players referring to Wentz as 'selfish' and 'egotistical.'
Numerous players took to twitter and other social media platforms to support Wentz.
Hall of Fame Quarterback Kurt Warner discussed the situation while visiting with the media at Super Bowl LIII, "We've seen the greats, the Tom Brady's and those type of guys get up in people's face and demand a certain type of standard every time you step out there and we look at that as a competitive edge. We hear about some other guys doing that and some people get offended."
Warner played in three Super Bowls and led the St. Louis Rams to a title in Super Bowl XXXIV earning Super Bowl MVP honors in that victory over the Tennessee Titans. He understands what it takes to be a good leader in the NFL.
"There is not one model that says this is who I am and this is how I lead," Warner stated. "For me it was about understanding how to lead the different men in that locker room and the different backgrounds they had and what motivated them and what wouldn't work. It was learning the locker room and the landscape of every group to make sure I was leading in the correct way. Not every guy was the same. Some guys you could get in their face and yell at them. Some guys you had to pull aside on their own and talk about the situation."
Earlier in the season, an unnamed player stirred a little controversy by declaring Tight End Zach Ertz was getting too many targets. Then the comments about Wentz last week.
"When you hear stories like that, it is never something you can speculate about," Warner declared. "It is something that has to be worked out amongst teammates."
That belief was also shared by Super Bowl winning Head Coach Brian Billick. He also met with the media at Super Bowl LIII on Wednesday, "Some players get along, some don't. Carson seems like a pretty even-keeled guy. They have made it clear that he is the guy, but you have seen the success with Nick Foles. When you have that, it is not untypical with different parts of the locker room to align with one guy versus the other. That's an uncomfortable place to be. (Fixing it) has to come from the locker room. (A Head Coach) can try to structure it to a degree, but you can't dictate that. It has to come from the locker room."
Warner went from working at a grocery store to backup quarterback with the St. Louis Rams at the age of 28. He got his opportunity to shine after an injury to Trent Green and Warner never looked back. He took the Rams and Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl and understands the ups and downs quarterbacks face in their career from one season to the next.
"It's amazing to me that a little over 12 months ago we have a young quarterback that is probably our league MVP and is tearing it up and everything in Philly is great and this is the best coaching hire and they got the right guy at quarterback," Warner said. "He suffers an injury and things go a different direction. Now just over 12 months later we are talking about how this thing is falling apart in Philly. I think everyone needs to take a deep breath. I think Carson needs to take a step back."
Warner believes Wentz will be just fine as long as he leaves the past in the rear view mirror, "I think he felt pressure this year to live up to what Nick and this team accomplished last year and prove to everybody that he can win a Super Bowl too. That is never a place to play. When we lost to the Patriots 17 years ago we were a really good football team and we came back and lost our first six or seven games the next year because we were trying to prove to everybody that what happened in that Super Bowl was a fluke. When you do that, people are too talented and teams are too talented that usually you take a step backwards when that happens. That's what I think happened to Philly this year. They need to relax and get away from what happened and regroup and put the product back on the field that we saw just over 12 months ago and they will be fine."
Wentz has remained silent since the PhillyVoice report emerged last week. Meanwhile, the Eagles reaffirmed their commitment to him as their top quarterback. That leaves open a world of unknown possibilities for Nick Foles who may have taken his last snap with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Perhaps taking a step back as Warner suggested would allow Wentz the opportunity to approach the 2019 season the same way he did the 2017 season when he led the Eagles to an 11-2 record and was the favorite to win the NFL MVP award.