It doesn’t take long for anyone who has entered the NovaCare Complex over the last few seasons to see how committed the Eagles have been to Carson Wentz.
A massive picture of him oversees the indoor practice bubble. A photo of him leading the huddle is the first thing player see when they enter the facility. His locker is the first one on the left.
As committed as the Eagles have been to Wentz, however, Monday’s press conference from owner Jeffrey Lurie seemed to be a change in direction for the franchise.
Speaking to reporters after his decision to fire Doug Pederson, Lurie twice referred to Wentz as an “asset”, and for the first time in years, didn’t speak about him like the franchise quarterback.
Here is what Lurie said when asked about the quarterback situation and why it would be attractive to a candidate:
“On the quarterback situation, we've got two really interesting assets,” Lurie said of Wentz and Jalen Hurts. “They are both young. They are both hungry. They are terrific people, very different and terrific people. A coach is going to have options. A coach is going to have an ability to fix what he feels is necessary in our offense and have a potential star in Carson and a potential star in Jalen. That gives us an asset, also, so that if we end up deciding on one some day, the other is a really good asset.”
End up deciding on one. A coach is going to have options. Interesting asset.
Those are not the phrases that have been attached to Wentz over the last few seasons, and they certainly aren’t phrases Lurie thought he would be saying when he signed Wentz to a franchise-quarterback deal in 2019. Lurie spoke about Wentz in some ways as if he was just another quarterback on the roster, and even heaped as much praise upon Nate Sudfeld — saying he throws the best long ball on the roster — as he did Wentz.
Lurie also addressed Wentz’s regression in 2020, and said the idea of pairing Wentz with a new coaching staff is also an attractive one.
“Carson, to us, to me, and to I think virtually everybody in our organization, is a quarterback that his first four years was in many ways elite and comparable to some of the great quarterbacks' first four years in the league. Fifth year, obviously not satisfactory, for whatever reasons. There are probably multiple reasons for that. The way I look at it is we have an asset and we have a talent,” Lurie said. “He’s a great guy and he wants nothing but to win big and win Lombardi Trophies for Philadelphia. “This guy is tireless. He has his heart in the right place and he's really dedicated off-season, on-season – he's just what you want. It behooves us as a team with a new coach, a new coaching staff, to be able to really get him back to that elite progression where he was capable of, and at the same time, understand that there have been many quarterbacks in their fourth and fifth year … if you trace this, you can come up with many, many quarterbacks that have a single year where it's just, whoa, the touchdown-to-interception ratio is not what you want. And we're talking some great ones, like Peyton [Manning] and Ben [Roethlisberger] and guys like that.”
There is no doubt that in an ideal world, Lurie would prefer to keep Wentz and see a new coaching staff save his career. The money Lurie has invested in Wentz is a big reason why Wentz will be the favorite in any quarterback competition. A new coaching staff is a big reason why Wentz could be back, something that seemed unlikely just a week ago.
Whatever happens, however, one thing is clear — Wentz is not the untouchable, franchise quarterback he used to be in Lurie’s eyes.
And if the new head coach doesn’t like Wentz, and prefers Hurts, the Eagles are going to have some changes to make around the NovaCare Complex.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at email@example.com