I will never forget that flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia.
It was an American Airlines flight redeye and the date was December 10th, 2017.
It was after the Birds defeated the Los Angeles Rams in the LA Memorial Coliseum amidst a sea of Eagle fans who had flown cross country to see the Birds notch their 11th win of the season in dramatic fashion.
The quarterback that day, Carson Wentz, had gone down with an injury while heroically diving into the end zone. A knee injury, perhaps, but an injury.
He would stay in on a mangled knee to toss a go ahead TD pass to Alshon Jeffrey on a fourth-and-three, and the Eagles star QB would be done for the day.
Nick Foles would finish the game that day in dramatic fashion and the rest is history.
But on that flight no one knew for sure the extent of the injury. I was sitting near the front and the fans pouring onto the plane were terrified.
They kept asking me and the phones were busy trying to get updates. The concern was felt throughout the plane as it was exclusively Eagle fans who had attended the game.
By time we landed six hours later the news had broke that Carson Wentz had torn his ACL ligament and would be put on the shelf for the remainder of the season. People were weeping as they departed the plane. Their pain palpable.
It was the very height of Wentzylvania. Yes their were great games and some big victories in following seasons, but the level of play in 2017 would slowly become a distant memory.
Yet, the questions remain. Not just remain, but are asked everywhere; what happened to Carson? How could he play at such a high level only three years ago and play at the league's lowest level in 2020?
The usual suspects are the depletion of the offensive line. No weapons. Poor play calling. The big contract changed him.
The fact is that he has regressed. Just the simple act of throwing a football, the way we all did in our backyards or in the streets or at what ever level of football you have experienced has become difficult for Carson. The inability to correctly go to where the ball should be throw has become a very big challenge.
And the panic in the pocket when the smallest of leaks up front make him over react and sacks and negative plays ensue.
In Green Bay this season, now former head coach, Doug Pedersen, had seen enough. Down 20-3 to the mighty Packers, the contrast between the MVP of the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, was too striking. Immediately, the controversy in Philadelphia and around the country grew about Carson and the Eagles QB situation. It still is on a hot stove.
For the record, I had advocated for the Birds to part ways with their 53rd selection in the second round of the 2020 draft to take Jalen Hurts. They needed to begin grooming a replacement, or at least a backup to Carson in case he sustained another injury for the fourth year in a row.
I thought it was prudent to do so. I also advocated that the birds should have sat Carson prior to the Packers contest. He simply was not producing at his position and it was affecting the entire team.
That is ancient history after the firing this past Tuesday, January 12th, of Doug Pedersen. While the NovaCare Complex has many leaks, and many reports have surfaced to what caused the chain reaction of the coaches firing.
The bottom line is that the owner Jeffrey Lurie has a heavy investment in Carson Wentz ($107 million owed over next 4 seasons ) and the 32nd ranked pass offense in the NFL while winning a stinking four games in a weakened NFC East has not sat well with the owner.
He strongly believes that the talent that Carson has is salvageable. And he may or may not be right about that. If he isn't then it won't matter who the next coach is.
Lets look at what Carson needs to own up to and work on. It starts with Carson, looking in the mirror at his reflection, and saying that I have to improve! and will do everything necessary to make that happen.
Part of this belief of Mr. Lurie is watching Patrick Mahomes, DeShaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, and mostly Josh Allen. Josh Allen has gone from throwing 10 TD passes to 20 TD TO 37 TD passes while also running for 25 TD's in a three-year span.
He is very close to the same level as Aaron Rodgers and Mahomes. It's an amazing story and one that all of America is enjoying, not to mention the entire #billsmafia.
How did he do it?
Brian Dabol, the offensive coordinator is a big part of it. Certainly the Bills have built their team around Josh in a very practical way that includes the NFL top wide receiver, Stephon Diggs.
But none of that matters unless Josh Allen could consistently complete 70 percent of his passes. That's where the story becomes interesting. Not at all happy with his performance in the wildcard loss to the Texans last year after building a 16-0 lead, Josh set out tom work on his mechanics and fundamentals.
In a COVID-19 world that restricted many of our behaviors, Josh went to work in his home state of California and began training with Jordan Palmer, the younger brother of Carson.
He plainly explained that if you don't fix your footwork you will never complete a high percentage of people. Most "football experts" don't believe that accuracy can be improved.
Don't tell that to Josh Allen. If you watch his 2018 season v the magical season he is enjoying now you can quickly see the improved footwork to go with exceptional ability.
If I were Carson I wouldn't even wait to find out who the next head coach of the Eagles is going to be. Before this season plays out in Super Bowl 55 in Tampa I would find my QB guru and begin drilling down on footwork and mechanics. I wouldn't waste any time.
When Jeffrey Lurie came out and endorsed Carson Wentz as a "huge asset" Carson needs to reward that endorsement with a professional approach to begin the repair work needed to lead this franchise again.
It has to start with Carson. If it does, perhaps the new coach, whoever that might be, can begin the process back to getting back to the postseason and competing for another title.
As strong and improved offensive line lead by a healthy return of Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks to go with Isaac Seumalo and Jordan Mailata and the seasoned Jason Kelce will be waiting to protect him.
It could be a quicker return to the top of the NFC East if Carson begins working on his weaknesses TODAY. *