By Al Thompson
Quarterbacks almost always take the high road at news conferences even if there are some things bothering them or even if the questions get a little hot.
Eagles franchise quarterback Carson Wentz is no exception. The fifth-year veteran gives long answers and says very little…which is par for the course.
Wentz took time recently to join a conference call with about 45 media members. It had been around four months since his last session talking with media types.
This time, though, there was one joyful addition to his life off the field that happened recently, and some football-related subjects that have happened since the end of last season and most recently in this year’s NFL Draft.
Wentz and his wife gave birth to a daughter, Hadley Jayne Wentz, in late April. The 27-year-old father said he was taking advantage of the extra time to spend with his newborn. One of the few positives in life lately.
Most of the questions were about the draft, particularly about the Eagles selecting former Oklahoma and Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The one question that made Wentz seem a little uncomfortable was about comments coming from All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson.
Johnson told John Clark of NBC10 Philadelphia that the Eagles drafting Hurts will “bring the best” out of Wentz. He reacts.
“Everyone’s wired differently,” Wentz said. “I think for some people this type of stuff can really extra motivate them. But for me, it doesn’t matter who is in the room with me. I’m the most motivated person in the room. I soundly believe that. That’s just how I’m wired. I understand the sentiment. I love Lane to death, I’m not going to say he’s wrong, but for me I’m as motivated as ever.
“Every time I step on that field,” Wentz continued. “Especially ending the way we did last year … to get to that point and come up short, I’m as motivated as ever to get back to that point and further. It (Hurts pick) doesn’t change my perspective on who I am as a player and what I have to prove. I go out there every day with high expectations. I’m always my hardest critic.”
Wentz was asked what he thought about the pick.
“With Jalen, I’m excited to add him to the team,” Wentz said. “I know how important the quarterback position is, how important the dynamic is for me and the other guys in that room. I’ve been blessed over the years to have some incredible, not just quarterbacks, but incredible teammates and friends in that quarterback room. We really endure a lot together and go through together, so I am excited. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Jalen, the kid that he is and the player that he is. I’m excited to add him to the fold and create a really good, healthy, competitive environment for all of us.”
What about the call from Howie?
Eagles Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman said he gave Wentz a heads up that the Eagles were thinking about drafting Hurts. Wentz was asked how he reacted and did he have any concern about the team’s confidence in him?
“It didn’t really concern me,” Wentz said. “My reaction was kind of understood. I had a feeling they were going to draft somebody, just given the way our roster is laid out, trying to get younger and stuff. There’s no concern from me. I think the team showed me with their investment in me last year. I have nothing but confidence and faith in them, and they have nothing but confidence and faith in me. It’s all about strengthening that position and the group that we have. If I start questioning Howie and management now, I’d really be questioning myself. I have nothing but confidence and it’s time to get to work.”
Will there be two quarterbacks in the 2020 offense?
Wentz was asked if he had any thoughts about sharing snaps and minutes on the field with Hurts.
“”We’ll see,” Wentz said. “We’ll see how that all plays out. I don’t know. We haven’t gotten that deep into the playbook and how things are going to look. For me, whatever is going to help us win. It’s the same since the day I was drafted. All I want to do is win. I want to stand up there and hold the Lombardi Trophy. Whatever that takes and whatever that’s going to look like, I’m on board. I’m a competitor, I want to have the ball in my hands, we all do. But at the same time, whatever is going to help us win. I have confidence in the coaches that they will put us in the best position. I’m not going to dive into too many trade secrets of what we’re working on.”
The No. 1 argument against picking Hurts is that the pick could have been used to add a weapon Wentz could use right away. Most think Hurts will be on the field only for trick plays and an occasional wildcat call.
The Eagles did pick wide receiver Jalen Reagor out of TCU in the first round (No. 21 overall), then acquired wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and pick No. 210 in the 2020 draft from San Francisco in exchange for pick No. 190.
The Birds also took wide receiver John Hightower from Boise State in the fifth round and Quez Watkins, a wide receiver out of Southern Mississippi, in the sixth. Both averaged about 18 yards a catch throughout their careers.
“I trust their decision, I trust Howie and the rest of the staff that make those decisions,” Wentz said. “Obviously, we went out in the first round and got an explosive playmaker. I’m extremely pumped and thrilled to get to work with him and the rest of the guys that we took in the draft. I have nothing but confidence in their ability to put together the best 53-man roster that they can.”
“I’m extremely excited,” Wentz said. “Not just with adding Jalen in the first round but also going out and getting Marguise (Goodwin). I’ve been watching him on tape for years through crossover tapes of the league. I’m extremely impressed with who he is as a player as well as the dynamic he brings to the table. Those two jump off the page for me, then going down the list of the other receivers that we got. I know we’ve added speed and explosiveness. I’m excited to be creative and find ways to get those guys the ball.”
Questions about the concussion
Since he has not spoken to the media since the end of the regular season, Wentz was asked about the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Nine plays into the Eagles’ playoff game against the Seahawks in the Wild Card round, Wentz took a helmet-to-helmet shot from defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, suffering a concussion, and was lost for the game.
The Eagles lost a close game with 40-year-old backup Josh McCown under center.
“Obviously, I’ve had time to reflect on that,” Wentz said. “It’s frustrating. I’ve said it before about injuries. It’s an unfortunate part of the game. This one just felt a little different, being the fluky nature that it was. A head injury is something that is out of your control. It’s a really frustrating part that I know the league is really trying to do everything they can to take head injuries out of it. But we as players know what we’re signing up for. There’s risks involved. For me, I was just frustrated to have to deal with a concussion. That’s never fun. I don’t wish that on anybody.”
Wentz indicated watching his team lose and him not being there may have been worse than the injury.
“To not be able to finish that game with my teammates, to not give us the best chance to win and do everything that I could, it was tough,” Wentz said. “We did some amazing things to get to that point. I was extremely proud of the team and the way we rallied late in the year and did what we needed to do to get to that point. So there were a ton of positives from the season. I think everyone can look back on and grow and learn a lot from how we weathered all that adversity. But I was still a little disappointed on how it finished.”
COVID-19 means no practice
Usually by this time, practices are underway at NovaCare. Wentz has brought his receivers to a private location to work out after minicamp is over. None of that is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic going on. The quarterback talked about dealing with the limitations.
“It’s going to be tough,” Wentz said. “I know for me, we added these pieces and that gets me more excited to get everyone on the field and see what we can do. I’m chomping at the bit to get to work with a lot of these guys, both new and guys I’ve worked with, but unfortunately we’re limited. There is a challenge developing chemistry, developing timing, developing all of that. But we’re not the only team that’s dealing with this. The entire league is trying to find ways to be creative in developing chemistry and developing team unity. We’re doing the best we can, for now it’s taking it one day at a time. This is unprecedented. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. We’re trying to be creative as we go here and hopefully we can find ways to link up and get some work in here and there, but as of now we’re pretty limited.”
So are we all. ••
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii