You can blame the Eagles’ 27 penalties accumulated over their last two games — both losses.
You can blame the actions of Lane Johnson, whose suspension has hampered the Philly offensive line.
You can blame the fact that there is more tape on the Doug Pederson offense after the Birds’ 3-0 start.
But don’t blame Carson Wentz for the Eagles’ recent slide.
The Wentz Wagon took off when the Eagles looked like a Super Bowl contender — out of nowhere— under the leadership of the rookie signal-caller from North Dakota.
And not surprisingly, the last few weeks have been filled with nothing but love for the confident but quiet Wentz. Reporters visited his hometown in the Midwest. National football pundits called him the real deal. And the NFL made him their rookie of the month in September.
But he’s 23-years-old, and the NFL is a tough, unrelenting league.
“I have to be better, especially late in the game,” Wentz said Sunday after Philly’s Week 6 loss in Washington.”Any time offense has the chance to win at the end of the game and you come up short it’s frustrating. I put that on myself and we have to get better, and it’s one of those things I have to go back and watch the tape and really critique. We’ll be back, we’ll be better.”
In the Eagles’ Week 5 loss in Detroit, the Wentz had two chances in the 24-23 setback to lead his team to victory.
In Sunday’s loss, Wentzhad the football and was driving downfield late in the fourth when he went down on back-to-back sacks, all but assuring a Washington victory.
“I’ve got to get the ball out,” Wentz said.”I can’t take those sacks and that’s definitely on me, you know? The line gave me time on both of them. Those are things I just have to learn.”
It says a lot about Wentz that it has taken this long for Eagles fans and prognosticators to pick out some rookie flaws in his game. But his performance late in close games — the interception thrown against the Lions and the sacks against the Redskins — show his age.
“That’s the thing about just understanding situational football,” Pederson said of the sacks that put the Eagles in a fourth-and-24 with just under two minutes to go.”These are the things with young quarterbacks that sometimes you kind of lose sight of in the heat of the battle. Carson understands that and he knows that. And then on the last one, you just can’t put yourself in that situation.”
Still, Wentz’ maturity is hard to ignore, and will once again be put to the test when the undefeated Vikings come to down next Sunday afternoon.
“That’s the type of guy that Carson is. He’s hard on himself,” the coach said.”And he understands that those situations — he can’t take those sacks obviously in those situations. He knows that. The ball has got to come out.”
After the losses, Wentz didn’t pass the buck. He didn’t spout generalities or reject the premise of questioners’ inquiries. Instead he took the blame for what he did wrong in the loss.
“When he takes ownership that way, the guys really do understand and see that this is a kid that you can rally around and support because he’s a tough kid now and he’s going to stand there and take a lot of shots. And rightfully so,” Pederson said. “Yeah, the guys take notice of that.”