The Decline of Carson Wentz: From the Chosen One to Bust

On April 28th, 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State with the 2nd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. After winning 5 National Championships at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, the Eagles traded 5 draft picks to move up to select Wentz. He looked to be the chosen one in Philly, who was looking for their first franchise QB since Donovan McNabb. Now in 2022, Carson is on the verge of being benched by the Washington Commanders and watching his opportunity at being a franchise QB vanish. Looking back on Wentz, it is hard to pinpoint the exact moment his career went downhill.


 
Wentz's Pro Career Timeline

2016- Rookie Carson Wentz becomes QB1 in Philadelphia


It was expected Wentz would back-up Sam Bradford his rookie season, but after Bradford was traded, Wentz was named the week 1 QB against the Cleveland Browns. In his NFL debut he threw for 278 yards, 2 TDs. and was named the Pepsi Rookie of the Week. He started all 16 games that season for the Eagles and led the Eagles to a 7-9 record. He set an NFL rookie record with 379 completions. The future looked bright for the rookie QB. It seemed the Eagles finally found their future franchise QB.


2017- MVP Caliber Season and ACL Injury

Having a sophomore slump was not even a thought for Carson Wentz. He was having an MVP caliber season till week 13 against the Rams. In their week 13 game against the Los Angelas Rams, Wentz tore his ACL, and his season would be finished early. At the time of his injury Wentz's stats were the best in the NFL. Wentz had 296 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, a 60.2 completion percentage, and a 101.9 quarterback rating. On top of this Wentz had the Eagles atop of the NFC standings and was named to his first Pro Bowl. We all know what happened after that, back-up Nick Foles takes over and leads the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in franchise history! After that season Wentz was voted the 3rd best NFL player by the players.



2018- Injuries Continue

Fresh off their Super Bowl victory, the debate if the Eagles should start Wentz and Foles heated up. Wentz would start the season hurt, so regardless Nick Foles would start week 1 and week 2. With both players healthy, Doug Pederson gave the starting job back to Carson Wentz week 3 against the Colts. However, Wentz was unable to pick up where he left off at the time of his ACL injury. He struggled and later injured his back and was shut down for the rest of the season. Foles ended the season leading the Eagles to the wildcard and a playoff victory over the Chicago Bears. That offseason Nick Foles left and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carson Wentz was the undisputed QB1 in Philly.


2019- Contract Extension

On June 6th, the Eagles signed Carson Wentz to a 4-year $128 million dollar extension with $107 million being guaranteed. The season started slow, but a late push by the Eagles sparked by many comeback wins, the Eagles won the NFC East. Wentz started his first career playoff game that season, but after a head injury, he exited the game early and the Eagles eventually lost to the Seahawks 17-9. That season Wentz threw for over 4,000 yards and became the first QB to do so with no WR having more than 500 receiving yards. Even though the Eagles struggled much throughout that year, Wentz was still able to put up some of his best numbers of his career.


2020- Eagles Draft Jalen Hurts


In the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Eagles selected Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts. Many people wondered if Hurts was brought in to take over for Wentz or if Hurts was truly meant to be the back-up for Wentz. Instead of stepping up to the challenge, Wentz had his worst season as an NFL QB. He led the NFL in interceptions, turnovers, and sacks taken in 2020, and he only played in 12 games that season. Week 14 Doug Pederson made the decision and benches Wentz in favor of Hurts. It was a very disappointing season for the Eagles. They finished 4-11-1, bottom of the NFC East, and eventually fired Head Coach Doug Pederson.


2021- Trade Request and Trade to the Colts


At conclusion of his worst season and being benched in Philadelphia, Carson Wentz requested a trade. After the trade, Wentz refused to say that he requested a trade, but kept repeating that the trade "was out of my control." He did say that "moment" was when he was benched in favor of Jalen Hurts. Let me paraphrase if you cannot follow. Carson was rightfully benched for Jalen Hurts after an awful season, instead of getting better and trying to win the job back, he took the easy way out and requested a trade. Instead of publicly saying he wanted a trade, he tried to make it the Eagles fault. Looking at his production in 2020, it was not their fault.


On March 17th, the Eagles traded Wentz to the Colts for 2021 3rd round pick and 2022 first round pick. The Colts made the move after the retirement of Phillip Rivers and hoped that Wentz would return to MVP caliber status. However, after a 9-8 season and no playoff appearance, that MVP potential never returned. He improved from 2020 (would have been bad if he didn't,) but not to the level that the Colts expected. That offseason Wentz was traded again and this time to the Washington Commanders.


2022- Washington Commanders...So things are not well

I do not need to tell you how he is doing in Washington, let Head Coach Ron Rivera tell you how it is going!



 
Where did the decline begin?

There are so many different things that happened that people could say was the start of his decline. Was it his ACL injury, the QB battle with Nick Foles, or the Eagles drafting Jalen Hurts. Obviously when a player returns from an ACL injury (especially a dual-threat QB) they will not come back the same player. However, the year after his injury and 2019, the injuries he suffered were not related to his ACL. He injured his back in 2018 and the head injury in the 2019 playoffs was due to a bad hit.


When it came to the QB battle with Nick Foles, I truthfully do not believe there was an actual QB battle. The sports media believed there was one, but that does not mean there actually was one. With Nick Foles in relief of Wentz led them to a Super Bowl and the following year still led them to the playoffs and an upset victory over the Chicago Bears. Eventually the "QB battle" was won by Wentz after Foles left to become the QB for the Jaguars.


However, the decline was a result of the Eagles drafting Jalen Hurts. At the time of the Hurts selection, Howie Roseman said he wanted the Eagles to become a QB factory and that Jalen Hurts was going to be the back-up. That season was Wentz's worst year and ranked at the bottom of NFL QB's and he only played in 12 games. He was rightfully benched that season. Instead of trying to get better, it got to his head, and he took the easy way out and requested a trade. Prior to that year when healthy he did not play awful. The team around his wasn't strong. However, each of those years he knew he was QB1.


When Hurts was drafted now all of a sudden there was competition. This is why I feel there was never a QB battle between Wentz and Foles. If there was an actual competition, Wentz would have crumbled and Foles would have stayed, and the Eagles would never have invested in Wentz. Since both QB's left Philadelphia neither QB found their footing. Foles struggled in Jacksonville was QB3 in Chicago and Indianapolis.

 
What's next for Carson Wentz?

This was the last chance for Carson Wentz at being a franchise QB. He is at the end of that 4-year contract extension, and Washington seems to be done with him as well. We already know Ron Rivera's thoughts on Carson. The 2023 QB class is going to be elite and with Washington on the bottom of the NFL it seems they are tanking for one of those prospects. The Commanders have the opportunity to draft a guy like CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, or Will Levis in 2023, and all 3 seem better options than Carson Wentz.


This year Carson is not having an awful season. He is one of the top QB's in passing yards but has been one of the most sacked QB's in the NFL. Washington is an awful team right now. It is not just the quarterback position, it really is the entire team. I expect a full rebuild coming and that begins with a new head coach and a new QB.


Washington will begin a rebuild this off-season, so what does that mean for Carson Wentz? With a stacked QB class, there is a 95% chance Carson is now a Washington Commander in 2023. Now what does that mean for him. His time as an NFL franchise QB is over. There are two players he can have similar careers as. He can be like Ryan Fitzpatrick that is continually a starting QB but not a franchise QB. A guy that a team needs if they are desperate for a veteran QB. The other option is Chase Daniel and a longtime back-up QB.


He will be a back-up in 2023. He is the perfect back-up. If your franchise QB goes down, Wentz is still a valuable option to step in and keep the team afloat. Looking back on the career of Carson Wentz, the best word to describe him is a bust. He was selected 2nd overall by a team that traded 6 picks to trade up and select. Showed extreme promise early in his career but let a rookie QB get so far under his skin it forever effected his play on the field. When looking at the career of Carson Wentz it was extremely disappointing.




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