Last Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles lost 19-7 to the Seattle Seahawks. Sitting at 5-6 they are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.
At half-time they were booed off the field by their own fans and when Carson Wentz fumbled for the third time, with his team losing 17-3, supporters began to flood out of Lincoln Financial Field.
Finishing with one touchdown – once the game was over – two interceptions, 256 yards and 33 from 45 passes, the numbers don’t jump off the page as awful, but it’s the manner of his performance which is most alarming.
He only missed 12 passes, but some of them were so badly thrown. Too high, underthrown, and just inaccurate. If he had been able to find his target, it could have been a much different game.
Against the Pats, in another game which could have been won, Wentz didn’t cover himself in glory.
Down 17-10, the 2016 first-round pick had a chance to level the game, but, with three minutes left, a drive consisting of 12 plays included seven incompletions. After failing to hit Zach Ertz on third down, Wentz went long, looking for Nelson Agholor in the end zone. The receiver had a chance to make the catch, but it dropped just over his shoulder.
Make that play and Wentz is a hero, Philly have a chance to win the game, but a last-ditch 30-yard pass was only needed due to his poor accuracy during the previous plays.
It raises the question, is Carson any good?
Back in 2017, on the way to the Eagles Super Bowl victory over the Patriots, Wentz was in the form of his life. A genuine MVP candidate, he had 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions although he only completed 60.2% of his passes.
He guided his team to seven consecutive victories, before losing to the Seahawks and then Wentz’s season was ended when he tore his ACL against the Rams.
Nick Foles came in, picked up the baton and became a Philadelphia legend. How do you follow that?
You struggle. Since Wentz’s return, the 26-year-old has hit 38 TDs in 22 games and is completing 66.1% of his passes. This season, with the division still there to be won, his average yards per pass is down to 6.5 from 7.7 yards and is 500 yards down on last year’s numbers with the same amount of games played.
However, we can’t just blame Wentz for everything. Injuries have been a huge factor on offence.
DeSean Jackson returned to the side this year, supposed to be the player who can stretch defences and open up the middle for the Eagles. He has played just three games. Alshon Jeffrey has played eight times, leaving the QB only Zach Ertz and Agholor as his dependable targets and as Dan Orlovsky perfectly explained after the Seahawks game, it’s the little things the replacement receivers do which could make life easier for the man under centre.
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) November 25, 2019
Amazingly, despite their poor performances, the Dallas Cowboys defeat to the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving Thursday means the Eagles have a great shot at winning the NFC East and sealing the fourth seed.
They are 5-6 and will face the Dolphins, Giants and Redskins before a huge season deciding game at home against the Cowboys in Week 16.
Jason Garrett is under pressure in Texas. Assuming hie hangs on to his job, his team travel to the Bears then host the Rams before that key fixture. Dak Prescott has more attempts, more touchdowns, fewer sacks and is averaging two yards more on every attempt, but costly turnovers have plagued him too.
Arguably, the Cowboys have a much stronger team on both sides of the ball, they should be running away with the division, but poor displays have cost them too and now the NFC East is there to be won.
Doug Pederson and the Eagles could be ahead on 8-6 before the penultimate game, and by then we might see Wentz in his groove and throwing with confidence, rather than the erratic version who flopped against the Seahawks.
Although no one has questioned Wentz’s determination or work ethic, he has been called egotistical and a player who doesn’t like to be questioned.
All of this came from unnamed sources, and his teammates were quick to publicly support him, but it’s obvious the success and good feeling Foles brought has not carried over with Wentz under centre.
For a QB who has never won a playoff game, there were suggestions there was an air of entitlement about the fourth-year quarterback.
Having that sort of personality only works when you are one of the best at your position and at this point, we just don’t know.
It’s hard to place all the blame on him for the Eagles failings. Although he hasn’t helped himself, he hasn’t had help from his receiving corps either. No one since DeSean Jackson in Week 1 has a catch for over 50 yards. Defences don’t have to respect the deep game, leaving them able to clog up the middle of the field and stuff the run.
Wentz has a chance to turn this season around. Win the next three games and pull his team to the NFC East title, ahead of a faltering Cowboys team and we will likely see the QBs numbers improve. Three very winnable games give him and the Eagles a chance to regroup and put themselves back in playoff contention.
Maybe we’ll know how good the 2016 second overall draft pick at the end of this stretch.