McMullen: Carson Wentz Always Gives You a Chance
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - There are now more injury concerns for the Philadelphia Eagles, coupled with the realization that the team has now finished half the season without winning consecutive games.
Add in the bad taste of two fourth-quarter collapses and there is plenty to be concerned with but a win over Jacksonville in London on Sunday fuels the feeling that Philadelphia remains the best team in the NFC East.
“Adversity is going to strike in a season, adversity is going to strike within a game,” Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz said after rebounding from two early turnovers against the Jags to throw three touchdown passes. “Sometimes you just make bad plays. You’ve got to bounce back from it. That really shows the type of player and character that you have.”
The back half of the Eagles schedule includes five NFC East games, including two against the club Philadelphia is chasing, the 5-2 Washington Redskins.
At least some of those NFC East games are almost surely going to be played without All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson, who reportedly sprained his MCL against Jacksonville in the United Kingdom. The last time Johnson missed significant time, due to a 10-game PED suspension in 2016, Philadelphia was just 2-8 but things are different this time around.
Back then Wentz was just a rookie feeling his way. Now he's one of the game's premier playmakers and while you should hesitate to put anyone in the Aaron Rodgers category, Wentz is already one of the few QBs in the game who can make a team believe it has a chance on any given game-day, no matter the opponent or venue.
Wentz went 21-of-30 for 286 yards with three TD throws and a passer rating of 119.6 against the Jags, becoming the second quarterback in NFL history to record a rating of 115.0-or-higher in four consecutive games, joining Peyton Manning, who did it in 2012.
He's completed at least 66 percent of his passes in all six games he’s started and that number has ticked up to over 70 percent over the past three games. Meanwhile, Wentz has now tied Matt Ryan’s NFL record of 21 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass and one or fewer interception.
What Wentz is doing his historic, even if you want to go the negative route as well and add on the penchant for fumbling.
“Eliminate those two turnovers, I thought he played extremely well,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Led the team, played well, played tough. Made some tough scrambles for some first downs. Hung in there. … I thought he played aggressive. He played hard. He played tough. Really kept us in the game.”
Things will have to be different this season if the Eagles are planning on a Super Bowl sequel. With the Los Angeles Rams sitting at 8-0 and New Orleans at 6-1, the road to Atlanta isn't going to be running through Lincoln Finacial Field. If you get invited to the dance, however, bringing the prettiest date just might get you noticed.
The Redskins improved to a surprising 5-2 on Sunday but hardly looked like worldbeaters against the moribund New York Giants, while the other "contender" in the division -- Dallas -- is 3-4 and behind the Eagles after sitting out this week on its bye.
Despite their inconsistencies to date, there is little question that when the Eagles are clicking on all cylinders, they're simply better than the 'Skins and Cowboys. It's also true that reputation and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee at McDonald's and little else.
The Eagles may have turned a corner in the U.K. or perhaps the limited Blake Bortles and an undisciplined team popping bottles at the club the night before the game was a Band-Aid on a broken leg. Remember an emphatic performance against those woeful Giants was followed up with a fourth-quarter collapse against the Carolina Panthers.
For now, the win over Jacksonville keeps Philadelphia relevant for the second half and perhaps Howie Roseman will be able to add a significant piece before Tuesday's trade deadline.
Either way, if you're getting the feeling that the Eagles still have a chance it can all be traced back to No. 11.
"It’s huge,” Wentz said of the win in London. “Being .500, still not where we wanted to be or had hoped to be. Going into the bye week knowing that the real meat of our schedule, the NFC East, is ahead of us when we come back from this bye."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen