Not every day is sunny in Philadelphia, but things just got brighter in South Philly. The Shadow of Carson Wentz is lifted as last. Carson just needed to choke one more time.
It’s been a busy 14 months for the least loyal man in sports. Since last November, Wentz played like garbage for the Eagles, got benched, demanded a trade, watched the team miss the playoffs, demanded a trade again, got his coach fired, demanded a trade again, and, ultimately left the Birds in terrible shape. However, thanks to another solid coaching hire by Jeffrey Lurie, sound moves by Howie Roseman, a good season from Jalen Hurts, and the best offensive line in the NFL, it’s the Eagles, not Carson’s Colts, who finished the season preparing for a playoff game, Day 1 draft pick in hand.
It hardly could have ended better.
Wentz on Sunday single-handedly lost the Colts’ finale at Jacksonville, the NFL’s worst team, and that knocked his Colts out of the playoffs.
Philly, take a sip of schadenfreude.
The greatest sports villain in the city’s history can go huntin’ early this year.
Like Häagen Dazs, the favorite confection of ill-used Doug Pederson, Wentz’s failure is best served cold. Is it revenge? Not really. Call it karma.
The blessed irrelevance of Ginger Jesus in Philly is an unexpected relief, like when a pebble falls out of your shoe. Since the Eagles drafted Wentz with the second overall pick in 2016, he’s been as exhausting as he’s been boring. And it seemed like it would never end.
When he forced his way to Indianapolis, in the pursuit of thoroughness, I subscribed to that city’s daily paper. It wasn’t an obsession. I swear.
After Wentz’s two-week implosion, the publication landed one story in which coach Frank Reich refused to commit to Wentz in 2022 and another that examined the cost of cutting Carson after one season ($15 million). So: Totally worth it.
Carson Derangement Syndrome
If it seemed that the city suffered from an outsized outrage regarding Wentz’s disdain for it, understand this:
Never before has a player so highly drafted, so richly rewarded, then so utterly devalued by his own play demanded to be traded before he’d earned even a penny of a $128 million contract. In fact, the behavior and the demands of Wentz are unprecedented in the annals of the NFL, if not all of sport — and yes, that includes Ben Simmons’ bizarre boycott of the 76ers’ current season.
If it seems that Philly suffered from CDS — Carson Derangement Syndrome — recognize that the acquisition and retention of Wentz stands as the most significant outlay of assets in the history of franchise. From 2016 to 2021 the Eagles spent five draft picks, $80 million in cash, took a $33 million salary-cap hit in 2021, and cut Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to accommodate Wentz.
The return? A conditional second-round pick, a third-round pick, and no more ugly sweaters at press conferences.
So, why did Philly hold on to Wentz-centric angst? Because every moment of Wentz’s 2021 season affected the Eagles.
All year long
Eagles-centric folk held their collective breath when, in the preseason, Wentz needed surgery to repair a broken foot. That’s because the second-round pick turned into a guaranteed first-round pick if Wentz played in at least 75% of the Colts’ games. They exhaled when Wentz started the season opener.
They fretted again when, just before the season started, Wentz admitted he was not vaccinated. A prolonged COVID-19-related absence could sabotage the chance that the second-round pick would become a first-round pick. He stayed COVID-free through 15 games, just long enough to guarantee that he would hit that 75% mark.
When he finally tested positive two weeks ago, the Colts were 9-6, and Eagles fans worried that Wentz would play well enough in the final two games to secure a playoff spot. That would mean the first-round pick would be no better than 21st overall.
Thanks to less stringent NFL COVID protocols that allowed Wentz to return earlier than he would have in the first 16 weeks, Wentz didn’t miss a start. Thanks to his own ineptness, and maybe lingering effects of the illness, Wentz was atrocious: seven sacks, a lost fumble, an interception, and an 80.4 passer rating. The Colts lost both games.
In the end, incredibly, by being the worst version of himself — by throwing dumb passes and holding the ball too long and ignoring open receivers in order to make hero plays — Carson Wentz gifted the Eagles the No. 16 pick.
What a guy.