It was right there for the taking. The table was set and for a moment it looked like it was going to happen. Carson Wentz was on the verge of a signature moment. He had a chance to beat the world champions in dramatic fashion. He had the ball first and ten at the 26 yard line with with 1:18 left. He had the crowd behind him. He had the big Mo behind him. It was a chance to exercise ghosts of coming up small in the past. And he flat out choked. The Birds did not move another yard. Four straight incompletions. Not only that, but Wentz’ passes were inexplicably off the mark. He missed a wide open Zach Ertz twice and Nelson Agholor would have needed to be nine feet tall to catch a check down ball that went over the Patriots’ players who were standing on the side line. And so it went by the way side. A ten point lead turned into a 17-10 loss and a chance to hang with the Dallas Cowboys who beat the Detroit Lions earlier in the day.
On a day that the Birds built a ten point lead by scoring twice in their first three possessions, they did not score on their last ten possessions.
It was a day when the G.O.A.T, Tom Brady was awful. Unfortunately Wentz almost matched 12’s performance. Brady threw 14 incompletions in the first half alone. That’s a career high. And the Birds couldn’t capitalize. It’s true, Wentz was down his two top receivers in DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jefferey. However, he still had his two upper echelon tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and a first round receiver, albeit the inconsistent Nelson Agholor.
On that second to last series on a New England zero blitz, after throwing those three straight incompletions, Wentz through a deep ball in the end zone that Agholor couldn’t haul in despite the ball hitting him in the hands. It was a pretty good throw and it would have been a spectacular catch but the ball went off Agholor’s hands and fell to the ground. At the end of the day NFL receivers are paid to make spectacular catches and he didn’t. “We’ve got to be better,” Agholor said after the game. “That’s the reality of it. There’s no excuse. This is the NFL”…”We just have to be better.”
Coming into the game Wentz was 29th in the league in completion percentage and right now he’s 52nd in the league in yards per pass attempt at 6.6. That’s not a typo. He’s 52nd in the league with 6.6 yards per attempt. He’s also just 10-11 since last season. So have we overrated the franchise quarterback? Were we drunk with the hype and the potential for the extremely talented fourth year quarterback because of his 11-2 run in 2017?
Wentz was just 20/40 yesterday for 214 yards. He was sacked five times, most of them being his fault for not extending the play with his legs and for holding on to the ball too long.
But the most disturbing part of Wentz’ game yesterday was his play in the fourth quarter. He was just 6/20 and coming into the game he was 29th in the league in fourth down efficiency. He is supposed to be the savior. He is supposed to carry his team when they can’t for themselves. He is in his fourth year and has yet to register a signature moment.
Last year he came up short in the Tennessee and Carolina games late. This year he had the Birds in position to beat the Atlanta Falcons in week two. He had the ball first and ten at the Atlanta 18 yard line, down four points with 1:58 left. The Birds turned it over on downs gaining nine yards, one shy of a first down. In the Detroit loss earlier in the year, On the last series of the game, Wentz had the ball at the 50 yard line needing just about 13 yards to give Jake Elliott a chance to tie the game with a long field goal. Again the Birds turned the ball over on downs losing five yards in the process. And then of course there was Sunday’s debacle.
It appears that Wentz doesn’t have that clutch gene or that “it” quality. He is enormously talented but hasn’t lived up to his 100 million dollar contract. In ten games this season Wentz has thrown for under 200 yards four times and his completion percentage has been under 60 percent five times.
He clearly is behind so many of the young quarterbacks who have taken the league by storm. Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson threw four touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 41-7 hammering of the Houston Texans on Sunday. The Jets’ Sam Darnold threw four touchdown passes in a 34-17 road victory over the Washington Redskins. The 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 424 yards, four touchdowns and brought his team back from a 16 point deficit to beat the Cardinals 36-26. And Kirk Cousins threw for 319 yards, three touchdowns, zero picks in leading his team from a 20 point halftime deficit to beat the Broncos 27-23.
Unfortunately the debate between Wentz and Dak Prescott has now done a 180. The narrative has changed dramatically. Prescott threw for 444 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 35-27 road victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Dak is now 16-10 since the beginning of last year. He was 13-3 his rookie year, has won two division titles and a playoff game. Wentz has a ways to go to turn the narrative back in his favor.
And so the Wentz apologists will say that he has no help around him. To an extent that’s true but that doesn’t change his ineptness late in games. In a disturbing way he is the anti-Foles. Nick Foles has made his bones with clutch play and late game heroics. He is clearly the less talented of the two but the last time I checked, the NFL is all about wins and losses. And right now Wentz has more losses than wins in his last two seasons. Foles was 10-2 including the
playoffs in his stint as the Eagles starting quarterback in short bursts the last two seasons. Did the Eagles front office make a mistake by keeping Wentz and letting a Foles go? I still don’t think so. There’s still hope for #11 and still plenty of time to dispel the criticism by finishing the last six games strong and possibly leading the Eagles to a division title and a playoff berth. I still believe that he can turn the season around but right now the clutch gene is no where to be found and it might be time for us to sober up.