Everyone wants to fix Carson Wentz right now. He’s admittedly walking that “fine line” between being too aggressive and not dynamic enough. Nothing seems to be working. But the most important thing is for the Philly gunslinger to listen to his coaches, according to one former Eagles great.
Brian Westbrook spent almost a decade in midnight green, racking up 11,259 all-purpose yards during eight brilliant years there. He was inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame in 2015. Now serving as a national football analyst (and brand ambassador for Crown Royal), the retired NFL star attempted to put Wentz’s problems in perspective. Number one, Westbrook put the onus on Doug Pederson and his staff to coach him harder.
“He hasn’t reached a point where he should be unapproachable,” Westbrook told Heavy.com. “For him to develop the type of consistency it takes to be successful in the NFL, it’s going to take some of those hard conversations, it’s going to take some hard coaching. It’s going to take those conversations where you say, ‘We can’t do these things anymore’ and I believe Carson should be receptive to that.”
The key to the whole equation is Wentz’s willingness to accept criticism and change his bad habits, something Wentz’s detractors have said he’s too stubborn to do. Either way, Wentz needs to erase the mental mistakes — 16 giveaways in eight games — and look himself in the mirror. Talent isn’t the issue.
“I think if this team wants to win more in the future, they have to get better play from their quarterback and I think he has the talent to do it,” Westbrook said. “And, if he has the talent to do it, finds better coaching, becomes more consistent, that’s a great recipe for winning. And so Carson has to be able to do that, and take that coaching and leadership and grow from it.”
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There’s Enough Blame to Go Around
Don’t read the above analysis as pinning everything on Wentz. Quite the contrary. Westbrook was stressing that the coaching staff has to do a better job of giving the franchise quarterback the proper tools to be successful. More importantly, the right messaging and gameplan in the meeting rooms. It’s been harder to put four complete quarters together due to Wentz’s inconsistency.
“I also believe because of his inconsistency, now it’s been a little bit harder to play-call,” Westbrook said. “Now it’s a little bit harder to figure out what’s good for this football team.”
It’s a fair point and one Press Taylor — quarterbacks coach/passing-game coordinator — hinted at earlier this week when talking to reporters.
“Well, it certainly is a fine line, something that we’re always going to toe,” Taylor said, “and that’s the way he’s played and honestly, that’s the way we call games. We are going to be aggressive. We’re going to be bold in our approach. We’re going to take our shots when we feel like the situation calls for that.”
So there’s enough blame to go around. Everyone gets a little piece of the pie for a 3-4-1 football team that has greatly played below expectations.
“Probably a little bit of everything,” Westbrook said. “Consistency with the coaching, and you know … look, players in the NFL, you got to coach them hard, too. No matter what level they’re on. The best players are not only good on the field but they’re hard on themselves as well. And Carson has to continue to do that. And they have to continue to coach him that way.”
Wentz Feeling ‘Rejuvenated’ After Bye Week
Wentz will be the first person to point the finger at himself. The Eagles quarterback understands no one walks that “fine line” more than him, maybe not even Johnny Cash. Sometimes he just needs to “eat it” and “live to fight another dawn.”
The bye week came at the perfect time, in Week 9 — smack dab in the middle of the season, a chance to rest and reflect.
“I think the bye week is great for everybody, mentally and physically,” Wentz said. “My body definitely feels rejuvenated and ready to go so I’m thankful for that. Time to reflect personally on what I can do better and what we can do better.”
“That’s something he’s well aware of is not acceptable around here,” Taylor said. “It’s something we’re very confident that he’ll be able to clean up as we go into these next eight games, the second half of the season.”
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