PHILADELPHIA – Galen Hurts really tried to be a diplomat when asked about Carson Wentz.
But the reality was that their season together in 2020 was miserable for both.
Wentz was clearly upset that the Eagles drafted Hurts in the second round, and he proceeded to have a terrible season. He ranked among the worst quarterbacks in the NFL until he was benched and replaced by Hurts during the last 4 games of a 4-11-1 losing season.
The pain made it seem that Wentz didn’t do much to help him. In fact, he didn’t. Wentz had scored off when he was put on the bench, literally and figuratively, and is said to have asked for a deal even before the season was over.
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Rather than compete with Herts for a start in 2021 under new coach Nick Siriani, Wentz got his wish and was traded to Indianapolis.
It went on for one season without a playoff, after which Colts owner Jim Irsai traded it with Washington, saying, “I think the worst thing you can do is make a mistake and try to keep living with it.”
This is where revisionist history stops.
The fault was not that Wentz is not a good midfielder. His stats with the ponies backed that up. Wentz threw 27 touchdown passes for only seven interceptions. He got off to a solid start with the leaders, tied with the NFL with seven passes from TD and a passing rating of 100.3.
But there is more than that. The successful quarterback is skipping the numbers, and Wentz still doesn’t get it.
Just listen to what Hurts had to say when asked what he learned from Wentz in 2020: “I just saw he has big arms. He’s a huge guy, hard to handle. He does some crazy pocket plays, so I definitely noticed that when I was a beginner.” And he’s still doing that now. Kind of dodge and dodge and weave and do that stuff.”
Hurts didn’t say anything like Wentz was a mentor, or that Wentz helped him get through a tough season, or that he and Wentz developed a close relationship.
In fact, when Hertz was asked to describe their relationship, he replied, “There is definitely mutual respect between us. When he went to Indy and now (Washington), certainly mutual respect, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Again, Hurts could tell that he and Wentz had developed a bond, that they were still in contact, or almost anything else.
However, Horz chose his words carefully and then closed any further questions from Wentz when asked if Wentz had given him pointers while Wentz was on the bench.
“I’ll just say, I think we’re focused on now,” Hurts said. “I’m focused on now.”
In other words, no.
It was pretty much the same when Wentz answered a question from reporters covering the leaders if that meant anything extra to conflict with Hurts.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in it,” Wentz said. “It’s a new team. Lots of new faces out there. So yeah, it’s going to be fun.”
Look at it another way.
True, it’s only two games, but Hurts led the Eagles to two victories, using his right arm and legs. He made specific passes while sprinting. I’ve thrown in the middle. He ran over his opponents, as he did in the 26-yard TD race against the Vikings on Monday night.
He’s clearly better than he was last season when he completed just 61.3% of his passes and was often hesitant to throw the ball in the middle.
So far, Hurts has completed 69.8% of his passes after a dominant performance against the Vikings as he completed 26 of 31 passes for 333 yards and touchdowns. Hurts also ran for 57 yards and two TDs.
However, that didn’t impress Eagles coach Nick Siriani more about Hurts.
Here’s what happened: “We talk about all his abilities as a player, but the thing that gets you to your ceiling as a player is when you have the other things – the toughness, the love of football, the intelligence of football.
“These guys that get to that ceiling are what’s inside Galen, and that’s the very special thing and that’s why you keep seeing it evolve in my opinion.”
Siriani added that he still does not know what the Hurts cap is.
And it doesn’t hurt.
“I’ve never put a ceiling on myself, and I’ve always felt that way,” Hurts said. “So nothing has changed. I try to climb every day, learn from my mistakes and keep moving forward. That’s the mindset.”
Sure, Wentz wants to get better every day, too. But he will turn 30 in December. He had an ACL tear, a stress fracture in his back, a concussion and a foot surgery last summer (he didn’t miss a game).
But Wentz is still trying to play as he did in 2017 when he would have been a top player if he hadn’t ruptured the ACL.
Wentz isn’t that quarterback anymore, at least for everyone besides Wentz.
So when Wentz does “crazy pocket plays,” as Hurts described, he is often fired or intercepted.
At times, frustration is palpable among his teammates and coaches. It was with the Colts last season, and there are hints with the leaders this season.
Coach Ron Rivera was asked, in a phone call on Wednesday, about rumors of Wentz’s stubbornness and his inability to get a tough training, as happened in 2020 with the Eagles.
Rivera seemed to stutter somewhat before answering, “I didn’t find it. It’s a two-sided thing. It’s not just about the individual as much as it’s about the people out there. You want to work with people. You don’t don’t want to fight with people.”
“This guy was nothing but a collaborator and he was exactly the guy we were hoping for.”
But this is all relative. The Leaders slipped 22-0 to the Lions last week before making a somewhat respectable final 36-27.
We got off to a really bad start, including me,” Wentz said.
Wentz played better in the second half, but that wasn’t enough. If this is ‘exactly the guy we hoped for’ it will be a season long for the leaders.
Contact Martin Frank at [email protected] Follow us on Twitter @Mfranknfl.