Carson Wentz has already experienced multiple defining moments during his three years in the NFL. The next step for him will be staying healthy and leading the Eagles through the playoffs.
During the 2017 NFL season, Went threw for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns while adding 64 rushes for 299 yards on the ground. Due to injury, he achieved all those numbers while starting only 13 games.
After his breakout performance in the 2017 season, Wentz was routinely ranked as one of the better up-and-coming young quarterbacks in the league. Last season, injuries once again limited Wentz, and he started only 11 games.
Injuries are the biggest concern for Wentz, but he has appeared fully healthy during training camp. Nonetheless, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has opted to keep Wentz on the sidelines throughout the first two preseason games–a trend that has a strong probability of continuing until the start of the regular season.
Much of the optimism surrounding Wentz is based on his high ceiling and potential rather than a prolonged history of past success. Wentz has only played one full 16 game season during his rookie year, yet he has flashed elite skills during his three years in the league. If he stays healthy, the upcoming season, should be his best to date.
To break into the top tier of signal-callers, Wentz will have to work on some aspects of his game. Number one is staying healthy and being available for a full 16 game season. Wentz will also need to become more consistent with his mechanics and show that he can be a more dependable passer on all levels of the field. Wentz showed off the ability to throw a good deep ball last season with some room to improve after ranking 15th overall in the longest average completed air distance per pass in the league. Wentz will also have to show the ability to win meaningful games and lead his team into and through the playoffs. If he accomplishes all those things, this season he should easily enter the top tier of quarterbacks in the NFL.
There are many reasons to be optimistic about his abilities and chances to make all the necessary adjustments. Healed from his ACL and back injuries, the focus now shifts to what Wentz can accomplish on the playing field. With Wentz’s natural abilities, excellent coaching staff, and weapons around him, he has a great chance of putting together an excellent season.
Throughout training camp this off-season, Wentz has looked extremely sharp and displayed a strong arm with good anticipation. He has slimmed down thanks to off-season training and will have a full training camp under his belt entering the 2019 season. Something he has not seen the benefit of in past seasons.
The Eagles are often considered the favorite to win the NFC East in the 2019 season. With one of the easiest upcoming schedules, Wentz has a good probability of winning a lot of games and capping the season with an entry into the playoffs. If he stays healthy and plays at the same high level he has over the past two seasons, he should wipe away many of his doubters.
Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh had this to say about Wentz when addressing the media before the second week of the preseason, “I think he’s had a tremendous camp, I really do. He’s come out here to work, he’s playing fast, communicating great with everybody. Made a lot of really, really good throws, completion percentage is very high. I think he’s had a very productive camp.”
Wentz seems to have developed a strong and instant connection with one of his new weapons: DeSean Jackson. When the Eagles traded for Jackson, they supplied Wentz with a player who can open up the field and stretch defenses with his speed. The biggest questions surrounding Jackson are if his speed will remain at 32 years old and if his health will limit his production.
Over the last three seasons, Jackson’s availability has been on a downswing. During the 2016 season he started 15 games, in 2017 that number dropped to 13, and last season he only started 10 games.
If Jackson can stay healthy, he can help out the offense on multiple levels. Wentz has reportedly targeted his new wide receiver often in camp. According to Eagles offensive coordinator Groh, Jackson has consistently been one of the fastest players on the practice field. Wentz has routinely connected with him on deep patterns and in the red zone.
Along with the addition of Jackson, the Eagles have also added several other weapons for Wentz to utilize in the offense. Mack Hollins returns after sitting out last year due to injury. The Eagles used their second of two second-round draft picks to add JJ Arcega-Whiteside–a big, strong target who has already clicked with Wentz in training camp.
Those three join an already skilled receivers group led by Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Throw in Marken Michel, who reportedly developed a repertoire with Wentz during OTAs that has carried through to training camp, and the Eagles have a variety of players to spread the ball to.
With a stacked tight end group led by Wentz’s favorite target Zach Ertz, the offense should be dangerous.
And with Dallas Goedert as well, the Eagles have great depth at the tight end position to go along with their bevy of receivers.
Wentz and Goedert already have a good connection that will only look to get better with experience.
With a deep group of tight ends and receivers, it should be a pick-your-poison type scenario for opposing defenses.
Add in running backs Jordan Howard, Darren Sproles, Josh Adams, and rookie Miles Sanders and the Eagles offense has stellar talent on every level. With the attention the passing gain should garner, the ground game has the potential to excel this year.
Wentz should be the beneficiary of both so many talented players around him and a coach who knows how to use them.
Wentz has a rare blend of size, athleticism, and arm talent. He has shown off both his accuracy and ability to make quick decisions under pressure in his past three seasons. Regardless of his injury history, the Eagles are all in on Wentz. The quarterback is fresh off signing a four-year contract extension this off-season worth $128 million. After the extension, he is set to lead the Eagles for the next six years.
Wentz has proven to be a leader on and off the field with his play and character. His talent is obvious to anyone who has seen him play while healthy. After this season, he will look to cement himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.