The rest of the world now knows what we know: There is an amazing quarterback in Philadelphia. Use whatever term you prefer — franchise, elite, MVP, the guy who makes Jon Gruden slobber. Carson Wentz checks every box.
Wentz announced his arrival with authority on Monday Night Football, just as Randall Cunningham did in 1988. He threw four touchdowns against Washington, flashed Houdini-esque escapability and turned a nerve-wracking game into a rout.
The Eagles are 6-1 for the first time since the 2004 Super Bowl season. Savor that for a moment.
Each successive game validates how blessed Eagles fans are to have Wentz. Let’s salute owner Jeff Lurie and GM Howie Roseman, who pushed all in on a small-college QB who’d started just 23 games against spotty competition. Risking everything for Wentz was incredibly gutsy. If he fails, it sets the franchise back five years. (See: Cleveland Browns)
But he won’t fail.
Monday night began as poorly as it possibly could. The offense drew four flags on the first three plays. Their second series was almost as ugly. Washington opened with an effective blitz, and Wentz was 2-for-7 for 24 yards and an interception.
And then, Wentz and his coaches figured it out. Give Doug Pederson high grades for in-game adjustment, which involved speeding the pace, going no-huddle and letting the second-year QB change things at the line of scrimmage.
From that point, Washington’s defense was at sea. The Eagles scored on three straight possessions and five of six. Wentz completed 15 of his last 18 for 244 yards and four TDs. He also ran for 63 yards on eight scrambles, five of which resulted in first downs.
Three plays make the highlight reel:
– Late in the second quarter, Wentz launched a 64-yard touchdown bomb to Mack Hollins. Long-ball accuracy on has been the knock on Wentz. But this was a pillow dropped in the rookie receiver’s hands. I believe that Wentz-to-Hollins will become a big thing in coming seasons.
– Up 17-10 in the third quarter, Wentz took a snap at the Washington nine-yard-line and found himself under siege. Three defenders assaulted him, but Wentz stayed cool. He rose out of the pile and flung one to his third option on the play, rookie Corey Clement, who made an acrobatic catch in the end zone.
Pederson praised it as “one of the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. Two young guys making that type of a play on this really big stage.”
– Finally, there was the 17-yard dash up the gut on third down when everyone but Wentz (and the refs) figured he had been sacked. We’ve never listed elusiveness among Wentz’s skills, but the kid can juke. That escape sealed the game.
Ultimately, Wentz — like all QBs — will be defined by postseason success. But is there any reason to doubt that the kid has “it” – the skills, smarts and leadership to take this franchise where it hasn’t been for more than a half-century?
Let’s end with this: If every player in the NFL were tossed back into a common draft tomorrow, and league GMs could pick one guy to start their franchise anew, who would they take?
Answer: He wears No. 11 and now plays in Philadelphia.