PHILADELPHIA — Teams within the same division are always considered rivals to a certain degree. But every so often there are stretches that ignite the rivalry, making it a little more personal when the teams meet.
Wednesday served as the latest ignitor for the Washington Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Commanders traded for former Eagles QB Carson Wentz in a deal with the Indianapolis Colts, just a day after Aaron Rodgers decided to stay in Green Bay and Russell Wilson landed in Denver.
The move sent Wentz back to the NFC East where he was the face of the Eagles franchise from 2016 to 2020. This means Wentz will now play the Eagles twice in 2022, including a highly anticipated matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.
While many are comparing this to when Donovan McNabb was traded from Philadelphia to Washington back in 2010, this feels like it has more intensity to it. This meeting will feel more like Terrell Owens returning with the Dallas Cowboys or when DeSean Jackson came back to the Linc with Washington.
Fans will remember those heated reunions when Owens wanted to prove McNabb needed him more than he needed McNabb, and Jackson wanted to show Chip Kelly he made a huge mistake releasing him after a career year. Matchups with Wentz will likely fall in this same vein.
Both sides will once again have some feeling of justified animosity, even if they refuse to ever publicly admit it.
They’ll brush it off as “just another game,” but we all know they’ll want this one a little more.
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For Wentz, it is understandable why.
His refusal to change his style of play and questionable leadership qualities have been huge reasons that he is now on his third team in a calendar year.
However, the Eagles failure to properly build around him over the years, along with the selection of Jalen Hurts in 2020, have a lot to do with his regression.
It has been reported multiple times that Wentz felt set up.
Wentz was angry and wanted out.
Beating the Eagles and proving to the organization he surely resents that they messed up will be at the forefront of his motivations.
The Eagles have skin in this too. Specifically Jalen Hurts.
While drafting Hurts is seen as the final straw that broke the camel’s back with Wentz, Hurts didn’t do anything himself to cause the regression of a once MVP-favorite. He wasn’t asked to be drafted by the Eagles.
But the reality is he will always be tied to what happened. And if he is the starting QB in Philadelphia, they are always going to compare his highs to Wentz’s. He is going to be motivated to show that he can make this city forget about what once was; to show that his draft pick didn’t do more harm than good.
Don’t expect cheers from fans either.
Although Wentz was a huge reason for the Eagles victory in Super Bowl LII, it is going to be hard for people to look past the trade demand and stories reported about situations like Wentz complaining about the team’s success without him in 2017.
Even if there are justifiable reasons for Wentz feeling the way he did, fans are going to back their team.
In this situation, the fans are going to back the Eagles with intensity.