The moment the Eagles used their second overall pick on Carson Wentz, fans assumed that the team had just found its “franchise Quarterback.” I’m here to break down various highlight tapes I can find of his first five games in the NFL.
In Week 1, the Eagles faced the Cleveland Browns. In the video below, you can see that he is willing to do three very necessary things to succeed as an NFL-caliber quarterback. He is willing to throw the ball away/to his check down (Google it), he is willing and able to scramble when necessary, and he is also daring enough to throw a receiver open. These are things expected of veteran quarterbacks and rarely seen in rookies. Wentz is able to diagnose a coverage/blitz so easily pre-snap that he knows what throw he wants to make before the ball is even in his hands.
The Eagles’ second game of the year was a Monday Night Football game against the Bears. Wentz showed his toughness throughout the game. He was willing to wait in the pocket, deliver the ball to his receiver, and take a hit. He also showed a preternatural ability to extend the play just long enough for a receiver to open up downfield. Unfortunately, Week 2 also showed the downside of Wentz’s ability to determine, pre-snap, which receiver gets the ball: those passes are more easily defended.
Week 3, the Eagles played the Pittsburgh Steelers, their in-state rival. Going into this game, Wentz’s great performance was questionable, as he had played against defensively weak teams. The Steelers’ defense definitely posed a greater threat to Wentz than the Browns or the Bears. However, Wentz proved that those games were no flukes. His throws were on point, and he once again demonstrated an uncanny ability to move the pocket, extend the play and find a receiver downfield for a completion. He shone in his first true test of his career and looked very promising for the future.
After a bye in Week 4, the Eagles headed to Detroit to take on a slow-starter Lions team. Although the Eagles lost the game, Wentz still had a good performance. He threw for two touchdowns and one interception on a deep throw late in the game, the first of his career. Speaking of deep throws, Wentz did not shy away from airing the ball out and sending it downfield. He showed great precision on these low-percentage throws and the game could have been very different if not for a few ill-timed drops by the Eagles’ receivers.
The Eagles headed to Washington D.C. to play the Potatoes (think about it) in Week 6. The Eagles’ offensive line was in limbo, as the NFL had just decided to uphold right tackle Lane Johnson’s ten-game suspension for PED use. This meant that the Eagles would have to play a rookie, on the road, against a division rival, on his NFL debut. Wentz suffered as a result of the switch. He was sacked five times – highest total so far this season – and only threw for 179 yards, by far his lowest this year.
Overall, I would say that Wentz has a very bright future in the NFL. At 6’5″, he is an ideal quarterback, with surprising agility and speed. He has a very strong and accurate arm, which might make defenses worry more about the deep threats in the Eagles’ offense. In turn, that should open more opportunities up for Wentz and the revolving door that is the Eagles’ running back line. Given that Wentz has played really well so far, but definitely has room to improve, I would give his performance this year a B-.