Frustrated Carson Wentz Has Plenty to Prove
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - For two straight years, the Philadelphia Eagles have played January football and each time Carson Wentz was forced to watch Nick Foles take over the city.
This time things didn't work out quite as well for Philadelphia as the Eagles bowed out in the divisional round to New Orleans, and dreams of a Super Bowl repeat were drowned out in the noise of the Superdome.
The page turns quickly in the NFL and both Foles and Wentz talked during clean-out day at the NovaCare Complex. Foles discussed his future and desire to lead a team while Wentz returned to his position as the face of the franchise here in Philadelphia.
"Super frustrating,” Wentz admitted to reporters at his first availability since being shut down in early December with a stress fracture in his back. “You want to play postseason football. I still have zero games of postseason football under my belt. I realize I have a lot to prove in that regard. I’m confident that I will get the chance to do that."
The complexity comes with Foles' performance in high-profile postseason games, a four-game run which finally ended during a battle with his former Austin, Texas Westlake High School alum, Drew Brees.
Any chance of the Eagles changing course to Foles hinged on a return to the Super Bowl and with that now off the table the pause button on Wentz was released and the former No. 2 overall pick is back in the saddle, albeit with the pressure to live up to the Foles legend.
"I do everything I can to block that stuff out," Wentz said. "I think right now, going forward, my focus is getting my body right. And to play this game freely the way I did last year before the injury and cut it loose. Get rid of all that pressure and anxiety and whatever it may be, just play the game freely. And that’s where I’m going to get to."
Wentz missed the final three games of the regular season and both playoff games this season with Foles winning four straight before bowing out to the top-seeded Saints. During that mini-run, “Nick vs. Carson” talk dominated the Philadelphia sports landscape although it never really took over the NovaCare Complex where the Philadelphia brass remained firmly behind Wentz.
“I try not to think about all those things,” Wentz said when discussing any perceived QB controversy. “I know there’s lots of he said, she said things out there. … at the end of the day, I can’t control those. What I can control is getting my body right, getting healthy and getting myself back on the field to prove the player I can be.”
That means shedding the label of injury-prone.
"I realize that's other people's opinions on things. I first and foremost am looking forward to hopefully putting that to rest over the next couple years," Wentz said. "I know I will be fine. I know once I get healed and I do this the right way, long term this should be fine and not come back. That's the positive."
Foles, meanwhile, admitted he would like the opportunity to be the guy for a team.
"I would love to lead a team," Foles said. "The starter thing, leading a team, impacting a locker room ... that's why we play the game, to impact people, to create an atmosphere."
Foles impacted both the City of Philadelphia and many of his teammates but with both Wentz and Foles in line for contracts that could reach as high as $30 million a season for the former on an extension and $25M for the letter in free agency, Wentz left that for another day.
“I’m not going to go there,” Wentz, still on his rookie deal, said of a possible extension. “Not right now, especially after the season ending yesterday the way it did.”
A season-ending loss that in a way put the Eagles QB situation back into a focus where Wentz is the only option in the frame.
"I know a couple things: I love Nick. I love that we're like brothers in there, me Nick and Nate [Sudfeld] and the support we have for each other," Wentz said. "Whatever happens is meant to happen, and I think we're all going to be successful in our own right."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen