The Jury is Still Out On Carson Wentz

You may forgive me for running around my local watering hole (it’s more like a waterfall at this point considering how often I frequent it) screaming “Carson Wentz — MVP” at the top of my lungs. Actually, you don’t have to forgive me, I will not be taking it back. After years of the franchise being marooned in Chip Kelly land and what’s more having to rely on Sam Bradford (who is actually doing things that look like football in Minnesota) Eagles fans will take anything.

The franchise hasn’t had a reliable QB since Donovan McNabb. Yes, it wasn’t perfect back then or shortly after either. Andy Reid had a weird scheme of taking the ball out of his best players hands and skewing his plays towards an unfitting system. With the arrival of Chip Kelly, he introduced an offense that made huffing meth feel like a casual nap experience, and induced us in an illusion that it was all going to be okay. But like all fads, the high-octane no-huddle revolution stalled before it got going. Or more accurately, once the league got accustomed to the shtick.

Now, we’re in year one of undoing everything that Kelly has wrought through a myriad of destructive moves fueled by insanity. Honestly, no one would have been surprised last year if he decided to jettison every piece of furniture in the Eagles Draft Room to trade up for Marcus Mariota shortly after trading for Sam Bradford and a sack-full of hope.

In an attempt to mitigate the horrible judgement of one man, the Eagles went after what they hoped would be a franchise-saving QB. They gave up a King’s ransom to the Browns for the 2nd overall pick (five picks, including first and second round, that could have been used to fill out numerous roster holes) while also re-inking Sam Bradford. Going into Week 1, Bradford was still a presumed starter and Wentz was third in the pecking order. The Eagles weren’t supposed to compete, they were supposed to begin steadying the ship in the aftermath of the Chippocalypse, steadily undoing most of his moves. Regardless of the season, Wentz was the future, maybe not the immediate one, but the future, Bradford being the last remaining checkers piece of the Kelly era.

Skip a month forward and Teddy Bridgewater suffers a devastating injury, Minnesota panics and the Eagles pull the trigger, managing to recoup at least some of the treasure chest they gave up to get Bradford. Fast forward even more, the Eagles are 2–0–0, Carson Wentz is starting, looking poised and composed under pressure and throwing no interceptions, 3 touchdowns for a total of 468 yards, 60.6% completion and 94.1 rating. What’s more impressive is he’s communicating with his front line, knows exactly when to get on his bike and when to tuck it in and avoid the fumble. He’s also been smart with his distribution, relying on the check down when in trouble, but not afraid to air it out (even though Matthews and Aghalor dropped two perfect throws already). He is the undisputed number 1 QB on this team, but have we seen enough to crown him the savior of Philly?

Both his games came against the Browns and the Bears, both teams who’s current state can be described kindly as “in flux.” If you’re looking for less kind words, you can describe the Browns as “the Sacramento Kings of the NFL” and the Bears as… I don’t have that one yet, but I’ll get back to you. Regardless, neither team is a veritable threat this year, and while Chicago’s front seven are still notable, their secondary is not particularly threatening. That is to say, Wentz is yet to come up against a top defense in his short tenure as a starter.

Despite the obvious limitations of either defense it is safe to describe Wentz’s stat lines as “average” if you’re being considerate for the feelings of another human being. In light of that the given human being plays a sport where grown men pulverize each other for about 60 minutes at a time, we can also describe his stat line as “pedestrian” at best. While Wentz is getting the job done in the pocket and is showing the composure of a seasoned vet, from clock management to decision making, he is still getting rocked by human pick up trucks from the opposing O-Line. Yesterday, he got retuned on two consecutive plays before taking off for a scramble and getting close-lined by Danny Trevethan.

While it’s admirable that Wentz is able to take the punishment, the human body isn’t built to sustain this kind of unprotected contact and the line simply has to do better to protect their rookie.

There are multiple positives for every negative we can point out in Wentz’s performances, and some of them are more than just him (the O-Line simply needs to sort out their protection before their QB ends up in the IR). He’s calm, poised and overall accurate in the pocket, even under pressure. On the flip side, he takes too many unnecessary hits and his stat line is far from being awe inspiring. You win some you lose some, but I’m betting the Eagles Nation will take the 2–0–0 start under new pocket management. Let’s just not crown Wentz king yet. Maybe after next game vs. the Steelers should Philly come away with a victory.

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