As it goes, on-record player quotes hold infinitely more weight than media reports citing anonymous sources.
Most of the opinions formulated about Carson Wentz over the years have come from the latter, with various reporters telling us that Wentz is selfish, a bad teammate, a guy who requested a trade, etc. All of that may very well be true, but it’s not to be received in the same way as information coming directly from the horse’s mouth.
In this case, former Eagle Malcolm Jenkins is the figurative horse, and he recently told Rich Eisen that he felt like the Eagles gave Wentz too much leeway and tried to protect his ego.
That was in January, and this week he elaborated on his Wentz thoughts in an appearance on Chris Long’s podcast.
Here’s how the exchange went, and I transcribed about 85% of it, verbatim:
Long: I wanna hit the Carson thing because he just got shipped out, and I thought your comments were really fair. I’ve made a note, that if I have any issue with the Carson conversation, it’s about how polarizing it’s been. When you use terms like ‘locker room cancer,’ I mean, dude, we played with some locker room cancers. The guy (Wentz) is a good dude; he’s got things to work on. How does it work out in Indy?
Jenkins: I think the change of scenery for him is gonna be good. He gets a second chance at it, and it was the same thing for me leaving New Orleans, obviously way different circumstances, but the ability to recreate who you are as a player. I think PFF (Pro Football Focus) had me rated as the second-worst safety in the league at that time.
Long: I think it’s almost a good thing to have a bad PFF grade.
Jenkins: Right, yeah it is. But you know how it is. You get to a new place and get to recreate yourself. You get to control the narrative around you based on a fresh start. That was good for me and changed the trajectory of my career. It’s getting into a new space and restarting. For him, he’s had to learn a lot of hard lessons. He had an MVP season and then at the end of that season had to watch somebody take the team through a Super Bowl. The next year, quarterback controversy. He wins that, gets hurt, and the same dude puts life into the team, to go off. The next year, you don’t have a great year, but you make the playoffs. All of these things that have happened to him, it may be hard to overcome those things in Philly, but now that he’s somewhere else, those lessons are going to be things that he, I hope, will learn from and lean on and make him a better player, especially when it comes to the locker room stuff. Because like you’ve said, he’s not a locker room cancer. We played with him, and that’s not it.
Long: You want him to reach out more.
Jenkins: Yeah, what teams want from their quarterbacks, and what teams want from their leaders (is that), and that’s something I think he’s had to grow with. And honestly, when he first got to Philly, he didn’t have to be a leader. We allowed to him to just, like ‘stay in your corner and worry about being a rookie quarterback.’ It was myself, you, Torrey Smith, all these other guys, who won championships and were veteran leaders and allowed Carson to just grow, per se.
Long: It was an afterthought. His leadership, our Super Bowl year, from the beginning, I never thought about or evaluated whether he was a leader or not. What I thought was ‘damn this kid’s pretty good.’ And he’s a good kid. If anything, he’s a little shy. You’d like to see him reach out more and kind of go over to that corner of the locker room. I read Albert Breer’s article, which I thought was the fairest synopsis yet, which read, in effect, that actually people think he’s a good guy, what he needs to do is reach out to every corner of the locker room better. The coachability and stubbornness, he ain’t the only player, but we expect something more out of a quarterback. Right? That’s the bottom line. He’s not the only quarterback who is stubborn. This has existed as this extreme conversation when, he’s got things to fix, but I don’t remember ever thinking, ‘what an asshole.’
Jenkins: Nah. Never. But it’s one of those situations man, where we’ve been there, especially in Philly, you try to keep things so much in house there because of how the media is. When you don’t handle something and it bubbles and spills over, you give them the right to write your story without your narrative in it. We’ve missed Carson’s voice in this entire discussion.
And I’ll cut it off right there. Long explained that Nick Foles was social and assertive, and would reach out to the entirety of the locker room, which is an area where Wentz lacked.
But listening to that exchange pretty much confirms what rational and sane people already believe. Carson had some issues, and there are things that seriously needed to be worked on. The coaching staff was too soft on him. However, he was not a raging asshole, nor was he the worst person on the planet, which is what some people would have you think.