Everybody was fine. We were happy. But the Eagles coaching staff seems hell bent on ruining that, certain that a bona fide quarterback controversy can be good for the team.
The summer was going to be so easy! The Eagles’ glut at quarterback had been totally figured out as organized team activities commenced. Carson Wentz, the future of the franchise, was signed in time for rookie camp. Sam Bradford’s holdout was much ado about nothing, and the week off of voluntary workouts was in the rear view mirror once he had his first press conference after rejoining the team.
Head coach Doug Pederson made it clear, multiple times, that Bradford was the starter and Wentz was the protégé, sitting third in line while Chase Daniel served as backup. When asked if Wentz had much of a chance to see significant time this season — in the event Bradford was hurt or woefully ineffective — Pederson reminded reporters that Daniel was as important as any of the eight-figure signal callers.
We had our hierarchy, and regardless of how people feel about Bradford’s ability to lead the Eagles to the playoffs, people were by-and-large okay with the ridiculously quarterback-heavy depth chart.
People were even pretty much okay with Bradford, who smartly threw his agent under the bus for his holdout and trade request. When a trade didn’t work out, in part because the Eagles wanted too much to trade Bradford and in part because Denver drafted Paxton Lynch in the first round, Bradford returned to the team, noticeably annoyed but happy to help lead the Eagles into battle this season.
By all accounts, Bradford was welcomed back as a leader in the locker room, and while Wentz and Bradford seem to have kept their interactions to football-related matters, it doesn’t look like the veteran is taking any of his issues out on the rookie. At least not yet.
So, yeah, everything was fine in Eagles-land for the guys wearing red jerseys. That is, until the coaches had to open their yaps.
First it was outspoken defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who talked about his defensive unit and the absence of Fletcher Cox with 94WIP on Tuesday. In that conversation the topic of Wentz came up, to which Schwartz said, via CBSPhilly.com, “Don’t judge (Wentz) on somebody else, and then also, don’t predetermine the results of the race. Just let him go play.”
Taken on its face, that comment means a whole lot of nothing, as Schwartz has zero to do with deciding who plays quarterback for the Eagles. If anything, Schwartz was merely stating that it makes little sense in May to tell a rookie he has no chance to see the field in September, or even November or December. Wentz needs to just go play, as Schwartz put it, and everything else that’s out of his control will take care of itself.
The comments were barely a blip from the interview, with most focused on what the new defensive coordinator thinks of, you know, the defense.
No big deal. That is, until the offensive coordinator made his media rounds on Wednesday.
Frank Reich, the Eagles’ first-year offensive coordinator, joined the 94WIP Morning Show on Wednesday and was asked if Sam Bradford is the clear No. 1 QB.
“No, that’s probably not the right impression,” Reich said. “I’ve been around this business a long time as a player and as a coach, and one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate is it’s not a contradiction to say you’ve got to have order. Because if you don’t (have) order it’s chaos. So, if you’re the head coach you gotta come in and you’ve gotta establish order. There has to be organization, there has to be order, but —”
Nooooooooooooo. You were right there, Frank. You were fine. Sure, the first line wouldn’t have made any sense, but the rest of what you said was lock-step in line with what Pederson has been telling us for weeks. Bradford is the starter. Daniel is the backup. Wentz is the protégé.
Order. Not chaos. We’re okay without any more chaos this season.
But there was a but. So what came after the but?
“— but the other thing that — as coaches — that you’ve got to establish is a culture of competition. This is one of the most competitive industries in the world and so, to say that there’s not competition, that’s just the furthest thing from the truth.”
Okay, that’s not terrible. Reich is merely saying that Wentz, and for that matter Daniel, have to go into the pre-season with the belief that they can compete for something, as competition breeds accountability and combats complacency. I’m fine with this, Frank.
But there was more.
“So, I don’t see the problem with creating order and competition at the same time, personally,” Reich continued. “Every one of us as a coach and a player, you’re working harder to get better, but in that process you have to establish order and things have a way of working themselves out.”
Without order there is chaos, but in the process of establishing order, Reich believes there’s room for competition, even if that competition would be the very thing creating the chaos.
NFL.com’s Conor Orr pointed out that Reich told WIP he had not heard Schwartz’s comments from the day before. And in a way, that makes this even worse, because it shows the staff isn’t merely spewing pre-season narratives about how nobody’s job is safe to send a contrived message to the team through the media.
Rather, this means Schwartz and Reich both actually think this! And it’s in direct opposition to what their boss said has been saying for weeks!
Now we have a real, live quarterback controversy on our hands that’s going to last the entire summer! It’s chaos. Also, it’s probably a sign to not let the coordinators do radio for a while.