Mon. May 25th, 2020

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Suddenly, Carson Wentz faces a defining moment in…

5 min read
Suddenly, Carson Wentz faces a defining moment in...

PHILADELPHIA — The Carson Wentz Redemption Tour was not supposed to go like this.

Finally healthy and seemingly surrounded by playmakers, this was the season that the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was supposed to skyrocket back toward his 2017 MVP status, quiet the dissenting voices and shake loose from the specter of Nick Foles by leading a Super Bowl charge.

Instead, the Eagles have struggled to a 3-4 start and are coming off blowout losses to the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys — the worst consecutive losses in Philadelphia since 2015 when the wheels were falling off the coach Chip Kelly operation. In the middle of this spell, anonymous quotes critiquing Wentz have resurfaced — a development that Wentz this week called “concerning.”

Suddenly this upcoming stretch, starting with Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET (Fox) game at the Buffalo Bills, feels like a defining moment both for this season and, in some respects, for Wentz’s career. Not that he’s going anywhere. The Eagles just gave him a four-year, $128 million extension in June. But it will be a key submission of evidence that will help answer a bigger question: When Wentz is charged with leading a team out of adversity, will it follow?

Wentz is certainly not the primary reason the Eagles have gotten off to a rocky start. DeSean Jackson’s injury short-circuited what promised to be an explosive downfield attack. Jackson’s counterparts have failed to pick up the slack in his absence. Wentz’s receivers are second in the NFL in drops with 13, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and are tops in fumbles (four) and fumbles lost (three). Even so, Wentz continues to thrive in the red zone (seven TDs, zero INTs) and on third down (fifth-best QB rating of 104.3).

Philadelphia’s pass defense has been one of the league’s worst all season, allowing eight passing plays of 40-plus yards, second most in the NFL. Couple that with a downright epidemic of starting games slow as a team, and it’s not hard to figure out why the Eagles are where they are.

But Wentz has been far from perfect. He ranks 25th in both completion percentage (61.3) and yards per attempt (6.87) and is 19th in passer rating (92.9). The offense overall has lacked rhythm, and the conductor bears some responsibility for that.

“Carson Wentz is playing really good, not good enough,” said ESPN football analyst Dan Orlovsky. “He has been really good with his decision-making. He’s obviously made some plays that are becoming synonymous with Carson: the athletic movements or broken-down plays or the ‘Wows.’ But I still think he can do a better job of getting the football out of his hands a little bit quicker.

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