In the aftermath of the blowout 48-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, the Eagles’ fifth loss in seven games and one that dropped them to 4-6 for the season, the biggest-picture question is this: How does quarterback Carson Wentz shift gears and get his game moving forward?
With three interceptions and zero touchdowns in the loss, Wentz played his worst game as an Eagle. He hurried some throws. He held on to the football too long in other instances. His mechanics weren’t as sharp as he wanted them to be and his accuracy and decision making left a lot to be desired.
Wentz stunk. He owned up to it after the defeat.
“I know I pride myself in coming out swinging early. I am excited for all those things and I am locked inm and we just did not make plays,” Wentz said. “The last couple weeks, it’s frustrating. I definitely take a lot of it on my plate, on my shoulders. I have to come out better.”
Wentz has 15 touchdown passes and six interceptions this season, numbers that are good but not great by today’s pass-happy NFL standards. He has come a long way back from a devastating ACL injury suffered last December, so it’s important to remember that his injury is one that generally takes a full season and then some to overcome. Wentz is not yet 12 months out from the injury.
Is he an elite quarterback in the NFL? The Eagles certainly think he is, and his performance in 2017 ranked him as a sure-thing Most Valuable Player candidate before the injury.
Wentz, at times this season, looked like he was right back at that level when he compiled five consecutive games with a passer rating of at least 110. That’s impressive stuff.
But there have been some games in which Wentz missed some opportunities. He didn’t capitalize late in the Carolina game with the Eagles in Panthers territory in the waning minutes and beat himself up over that game.
In these last two outings, losses to Dallas and New Orleans, Wentz and the offense took a half to get started (Dallas) and then never got started at all (New Orleans). The Eagles, as a reminder, and this is not all on Wentz, have been shut out in eight of 10 first quarters this season. Playing from behind has cost the Eagles dearly.
Whether or not the Eagles somehow rebound from their 10-game malaise and take control of the division with three NFC East games staring them in the face, the most important outcome of this season is the Eagles knowing that Wentz, The Franchise Quarterback, is on the right path for superstardom. They are building their entire hopes for the next decade around No. 11, who is going to be rewarded in the next two seasons with a mega-contract equal to his status as one of the game’s elite quarterbacks.
Wentz shares the blame for the Eagles’ offensive woes this year, but they are certainly not all on him. The lack of a running game, the inconsistencies of the offensive line and questions about the play-calling and scheme are all part of the equation. At the end of the day, though, no matter how much the Eagles turn the standings around in their favor, they need to know heading into the 2019 campaign that Wentz is on the path to greatness. How he bounces back from the poor game in New Orleans will begin to tell the story. ••