Eagles Players Take to Twitter, Defend Wentz Following Report

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

On Monday morning, a controversial report was released by Joseph Santoliquito of Philly Voice alleging that “more than a half dozen players, plus other sources close to the team”, who would not name themselves for fear of “repercussions given Wentz’ power within the organization”, believe that Carson Wentz is a problem for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The anonymous sources alleged that Mike Groh is taking a lot of blame for the behavior and decisions of the Eagles 2016 first-round pick.

“Groh is a ‘good coach,’ who was ‘bullied’ by Wentz, according to sources. The problem with the offense this past season shouldn’t lie with Groh, it should ‘lie with Wentz,’ they said.”

The sources alleged that this occurred because Groh is a newer NFL coach without much experience. Under Frank Reich and John DeFilllipo, Wentz could try the same things, but the two well respected veteran coaches were able to calm him down and change his mind about things.

Whereas the offense is designed to utilize every player on the team, Wentz has a tendency to keep the pall on RPOs even when he is not supposed to and seemed to target Zach Ertz far more than any other target, helping him to set the single season record for receptions by a tight end. There were many games where Doug Pederson was attacked for not using the run game – perhaps there were far more calls for runs that Wentz simply changed into short passes to Ertz.

According to the sources, the reports of a great and respectful relationship between Wentz and Foles are absolutely true, but those relationships to not translate to the entire team. They allege that Wentz is not “universally” loved in the locker room while Foles is.

”The glaring difference is that Foles, every source stated, would go through progressions within the offense — exactly how it was designed to run — and hit the open receiver, regardless of who it was or where they were on the field. Wentz only saw, it seemed, one receiver the majority of the season: Zach Ertz. This understandably frustrated the rest of the offense, considering other receivers were open downfield. To stop the Eagles in 2018 under Wentz was rather easy: Stop No. 86.”

There may be some validity to the argument that Foles is more respected than Wentz. The offense seemed to rally around Foles and operate more smoothly with him at the helm despite passes that often tended to be less accurate. He seemed to trust his receivers to make a play where Wentz would not have thrown the pass to that receiver at all. The return of Foles seemed to reignite the comradery that made the Birds so fun to watch in 2017.

A report did come out mid-season that an unnamed Eagles player was unhappy with the targets that other teammates were getting and that Ertz was getting too many. The report is difficult to argue with. Foles would routinely go through his progressions, but there were far too many times that Wentz would seem to look for one target for a few seconds before firing a check-down to Ertz. Maybe it had to do with him not trusting his knee and worrying about taking a hit, but it seemed to happen far too much.

In a similar vein to that previous report, the sources called Wentz someone who played favorites among other things.

”His aw-shucks, overgrown-Opie-from-Mayberry routine plays well with the local and national media. Indeed, sources describe Wentz as ‘incredibly hard working,’ ‘determined,’ and ‘highly intelligent.’ But the true Wentz is more nuanced and complicated, with sources describing him as ‘selfish,’ ‘uncompromising,’ ‘egotistical,’ one who plays ‘favorites’ and doesn’t like to be ‘questioned,’ one who needs to ‘practice what he preaches’ and fails ‘to take accountability.

Numerous sources confirmed Wentz was once verbally attacked by a highly respected teammate for not being ‘a team guy.’

Carson Wentz’s biggest enemy is Carson Wentz,’ one source said. ‘He’s had his ass kissed his whole life, and sometimes acts like he’s won 10 Super Bowls, when he hasn’t played in, let alone won, a playoff game yet. Everyone around him wants good things for him. He did more thinking on the field than he did playing (in 2018). You don’t have to be a brain surgeon or a football expert to see how differently this team plays and reacts with one guy as opposed to the other.”

The sources did not seem to mean harm with the message, however. Santoliquito writes, toward the end of the article, that each and every source wants Wentz to succeed. That means that releasing these thoughts is likely meant to be more of a wakeup call for Wentz. Something meant to get his attention and make him think. Perhaps change the way he thinks about running the offense or how he runs with the game plans that Mike Groh draws up for him.

All that said, there were many Eagles players that took offense to the report, claiming that they were untrue or, in some cases, “fake news”. Many of the players are major locker room leaders.

In addition to those that tweeted their own remarks, special teams captain Kamu Grugier-Hill retweeted the tweets of Lane, Sudfeld and Ertz to show his support while Eagles rookie Avonte Maddox and veteran Chris Maragos retweeted Ertz to show their own support.

Even if there are players that believe Wentz needs to make some changes, the team is behind him and will be ready to play for him come next season.

This article will be updated with additional player tweets as they are released:

Center Jason Kelce, who does not use social media, texted Nick Fierro of The Morning Call the following:

”Carson arrived here three seasons ago and has been nothing but an incredible teammate. From the moment he started taking reps as a rookie, you knew there was something different about him, and our entire offense got better largely because of the competitor and player he is. His work ethic and attention to detail every day made an impact on others, and he’s without a doubt a tremendous leader through his words and actions.

I have not read Joe’s article and don’t want to get into a habit of addressing unnamed opinions, but I know this: Carson through the first three years has been nothing but a great teammate trying to get better each and every day, trying to make others better each and every day, trying to make this team better each and every day. And when the dust has settled, his legacy will be one of an incredible competitor and teammate who laid it on the line each and every day for the guy next to him, and a man who did everything he could to help this team succeed.

I’ll go to war any day of the week and twice on Sunday with guys like Carson Wentz.”

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