Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz has faced many doubts since he was a quick-rising prospect at North Dakota State. After he declared for the 2016 NFL draft, the skeptics came out as they always do when evaluating draft prospects. Now, while nearly every prospect and NFL player faces criticism and doubt of some sort, it’s worth noting here because Wentz has dispelled nearly every one.
First, everyone said he played at too small of a school. The competition he dominated at North Dakota State was nothing in comparison to what he would face on NFL Sundays. While his talent was evident, because of where he played some believed he wasn’t worthy of being drafted second overall. Then, he burst onto the scene in the NFL as a rookie and proved immediately in the first three games he belonged.
Then, he began to struggle. Lane Johnson was suspended 10 games. Wentz’s talent was still clear, but he was let down bad by his supporting cast. Most of the players he was throwing to and handing off to aren’t in the NFL anymore. Still, people wondered if he was really that good.
Then 2017 happened – Wentz was the best player in the NFL through 14 weeks. He was the clear MVP frontrunner before tearing his ACL in December. Everyone recognized the bright young star we had on our hands, and despite not being physically able to play in the Super Bowl that year, Wentz has a well-earned Super Bowl ring to show for his work.
In 2018, Wentz played relatively well but certainly a step below 2017. The Eagles, a lesser team than the one that won the Super Bowl, struggled. Then Wentz got hurt again. Nick Foles took the Eagles to the playoffs again. The critics were back out and louder than ever: Wentz can’t stay healthy, Foles might be the better QB, Foles gets the best out of this team.
Now it’s 2019. Wentz is clearly, and always has been, the superior QB to Foles. He has started and finished every game healthy. He’s 100% and ready to go for a win-or-go-home matchup with Dallas this Sunday.
Some of Wentz’s struggles this season, however, have been due to his supporting cast again. He has had countless teammates drop easy passes, would-be game-winning touchdown passes, and fumble after the catch. However, at some point, responsibility falls upon the QB to elevate those around him. Foles had done this in the past. Wentz hadn’t done so in 2019, especially in losses to New England and Seattle last month. Now with his top three wide receivers injured and his top running back out, it was up to Wentz to get something out of players who were on the practice squad most of the last two years. Otherwise it was about to be a long, long offseason.
He’s once again risen to the challenge. Wentz has 5 touchdown passes, 0 interceptions, and has led the offense to 51 points in the last 6 quarters/overtime throwing to a cast of 3 wide receivers – one a badly struggling rookie (JJ Arcega-Whiteside, another with 1 career catch (Rob Davis), and the other on the practice squad for the last two years (Greg Ward).
Until the last two weeks, Wentz has also been viewed as “not clutch.” Part of this had to do with some of the close games and big games Foles won, but Wentz hadn’t had a true signature drive to win a game yet.
He’s now had two in 6 games.
Playing with literal house money. Elevating his game when his team needs him to most. Elevating those around him and trusting in his new young weapons to make plays. The past two weeks we’ve seen Carson Wentz come into his own in an entirely new way.
This momentum is massive for this suddenly young. Wentz and the Eagles need to ride these last two come-from-behind wins and the camaraderie they’ve built and take it into Lincoln Financial Field next Sunday vs. Dallas. This is the biggest game of Carson Wentz’s career coming up in 6 days. If he maintains this level of play, the path to knocking out one more criticism will become much clearer – as he’ll have a chance to play in his first playoff game.