The circumstances weren’t what many expected. Fresh off a brand new $128 million extension, Carson Wentz needed to prove the Eagles made the right decision in putting all their eggs in one basket. Towards the midway point of the season, many doubted the former MVP-front-runner. Injuries, miscues, and anonymous sources challenged not only the skill set of the QB, but also the leadership of the 2016 second overall pick.
In the month of December though, no-one was better than Carson Wentz. Plugging along without his three starting wide receivers, his starting right tackle, his favorite weapon at TE, and his power back, Carson Wentz led the Broad Street backups to their second division title in three years. While the playoff game didn’t go EXACTLY as planned, it’s time for Wentz to be judged in year four of his tenure as the Eagles starting QB.
Depending on who you ask, Wentz was either really accurate during the regular season, or the complete opposite. From a purely objective opinion, it’s fair to say it’s definitely in the middle. There were some plays that were questionable:
And then there were the absolute dimes:
It’s fair to say Wentz wasn’t perfect this year when it came to his accuracy, but he wasn’t as bad as many “experts” will say. He completed 64% of his passes which was good for 17th in the NFL. It’s fair to bring in the 28 drops made by Eagle receivers as well with this. If the drops are cut in half, his completion percentage rises to 66% which would coincidentally put him in the top 10 amongst starting QB’s. Still, that doesn’t excuse Wentz with his miscues as well. All-in-all: an average year.
It couldn’t be really on display this year with DeSean Jackson’s injury that changed the entire offensive complexion, but arm strength has never really been an issue for Carson Wentz. We already saw the play from Wentz to Burnett, but a TD throw before really displayed that arm strength:
Every QB in the history of the sport has been told to NEVER throw across your body to the opposite side of the field. Wentz trusts his arm strength here to absolutely unload on that throw. Plain and simple: Wentz’s arm is as strong as ever.
It is common for mobile QB’s who tear their ACL to be more of a pocket passer and not try to scramble as much as before the injury. Donovan McNabb was a prime example, as was Randall Cunningham. At the beginning of the year, it seemed the coaching staff tried to keep Wentz in the pocket more than normal as a way to protect the franchise QB. Later on in the year- they had no choice: Wentz needed to extend plays if the season was to be extended. And….well…Carson Wentz there aren’t many people better when they are outside of the pocket.
According to fivethirtyeight.com, Carson Wentz had the highest QBR out of any QB in football when outside the pocket. Inside the pocket, his QBR was 58 (slightly above average). Outside it rocketed to 94 (out of 100). His mobility is not an issue.
Here is one that is difficult to really determine because there are different layers to this. Wentz ended up throwing just seven interceptions the entire season. He is the first QB in NFL history to throw 20+ TD’s and less than 10 interceptions in three consecutive season. The problem isn’t the picks…..it’s the fumbles.
17 fumbles to be exact. Yes, not every time Wentz fumbled was necessarily his fault. But plays like this happened more times than the Eagles would like.
Yes, Dillard gets absolutely blasted here but Wentz clearly sensed the rush and correctly stepped up. Where is the internal clock? Better ball placement and smarter decision making needs to happen when it comes to turnovers.
Situational Football is all about how a QB is in the red-zone and on third down. Again, there isn’t a QB better at both of these instances right now in the NFL. In the red zone…in the last three seasons…Wentz has thrown 60 TD’s and ONE interception. (60:1 TD/INT Ratio). In this particular season, Wentz has 19 TD’s and did not throw an interception. Stellar. On third down, Wentz was as efficient as ever: an 11:1 TD/INT ratio. When it comes to situational football, there isn’t a better QB in football.
Normally this wouldn’t be something we would have to grade in a QB. Yet with anonymous sources complaining about his leadership before the season, and his inability to checkdown during the season, it has to be questioned. And yet, under the circumstances, this was as good a leadership job as you can do. First, here are the players Wentz did not have for multiple games this season:
- Three starting wideouts
- All-Pro RG
- All-Pro RT
- Starting RB
- LT coming off the field every other play
- All-Pro TE
That is eight different starters. Eight! Out of 11 potential starters! Before the rant about the medical staff comes, think about what Carson had to deal with throughout the season. And yet, with ALL that; with practice squad players coming up every other week, Wentz won the last four games of the year and put his team in the playoffs. We can give kudos to the Boston Scott, Greg Ward and Miles Sanders. Heck, we can give credit to the coaching staff too. But to completely discredit Wentz for his work to not only rally the roster around him, but lead his team to a division title is wrong. Wentz proved the locker room is all-in on #11 and thoughts of a former Super Bowl MVP is long dead. This isn’t Foles’ locker room anymore. It’s Wentz’s. And he earned it this year.
This year was an odd one not only for Carson Wentz but for the Eagles as well. Injuries. Snakes in the locker room. Practice squad players executing better than set starters. The one constant seemed to be Carson Wentz. For better or worse, Wentz is the franchise. The contract given to him proved that. Carson Wentz has the potential to be one of the elite signal-callers in the game. Due to this, we need to judge him accordingly. Wentz was very good this season and led his wounded team to the playoffs. Under the circumstances, Wentz leading his team to the playoffs should be enough to put him in that elite status. Yet, with the Wild Card injury, and his midseason slump, some questions will still remain. His overall grade should be a reflection of what was a very good season from a player that should be playing at an elite level.
Overall Grade: B+
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports