Wentz did his best to de-escalate what Rivera started originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Carson Wentz unwittingly became part of a large NFL story on Monday, when Ron Rivera initially identified the quarterback position as the reason why the Commanders are lagging behind the rest of the division before he clumsily attempted to defend the team’s current signal-caller.
To Wentz’s credit, he did his best on Tuesday to prevent the headlines from multiplying.
“I honestly had no idea any of that happened,” Wentz said in a press conference, explaining to reporters that the franchise’s head of PR eventually tipped him off about Rivera’s comments and the ensuing drama. “Coach addressed it and handled it. Nothing for me that I’m overly concerned about.”
Rivera himself had the opportunity Tuesday to respond to the way in which his words took off (among others, an ex-passer Rivera’s, Alex Smith, reacted to the development with serious dismay during a Monday Night Football pregame show). In doing so, the organization’s headman expressed regret about his role in the situation.
“I spoke to my team this morning,” he said. “I basically told them that I said some things that were misconstrued. I didn’t present it properly. That’s on me. So I took accountability, told the guys that I should know better and [expletive], I had a bad day.”
“Coach is a very straightforward, upfront guy and he addressed it in the team meeting — which I thought was really cool — and what he meant by it all,” Wentz said. “I feel very confident in it.”
Wentz arrived in Washington with a less-than-stellar reputation when it came to owning up to shortcomings, taking hard coaching and being a legitimate leader. That image, plus the rapid rise and fall of his career in Philadelphia and then a brief and fruitless tenure in Indianapolis, has turned Wentz into a polarizing football figure.
For a job that’s scrutinized as much as any on the planet, Wentz is especially scrutinized.
With the Commanders, however, he’s basically been flawless in his dealings with the media, and Tuesday represented the greatest example of that. Whether Rivera meant to or not, he set Wentz up in a tough situation — something he’s already plenty used to on the field in 2022, by the way — but Wentz navigated it with maturity.
It sounds like that’s how he handled it away from the microphone and cameras, too.
“Carson and I had a nice conversation about it,” Rivera said. “I think he’s ready to roll.”
Should the club’s slump continue — a loss on Thursday to the Bears would be its fifth in a row, and a 1-5 record would make the final 11 contests of the season seem wholly cumbersome — it’ll be necessary to track if Wentz keeps his calm. The squad appears to be on the precipice of crumbling and Halloween candy isn’t even close to being doled out yet, meaning additional discomfort could be coming.
Still, Wentz can only be judged on how he’s acted up to this point, and up to this point, he’s focused solely on how he can improve instead of complaining about what’s going on around him. It’s an admirable approach — a tact that Rivera would be wise to learn from, honestly.
Now, having laid out all that praise, the matter of Wentz’s contributions between the whistles remains most relevant.
Though his recent outing against the Titans featured gaudy stats and a slew of gorgeous throws, his last-second interception is what most will (understandably) remember from Week 5. In Weeks 3 and 4, meanwhile, Wentz and the offense were anemic in tilts with the Eagles and Cowboys. Overall, Wentz’s time at the helm of the group has frustrated fans more than it’s fired them up.
Wentz is, of course, aware of the struggles but believes, with some further fine-tuning and cutting down of preventable mistakes like penalties, the unit will increase its production.
“I feel very confident in the chemistry and the relationships that have been built, the bond that we have on the field,” he said. “We’ve shown and proven some really good things.
“For us, it’s just about consistency, for me, it’s about consistency,” he added.
If Wentz the player can soon match Wentz the public-facing person in Washington, then the Commanders will actually have something positive to discuss.