Carson Wentz may have had his problems in Philadelphia during his last season as an Eagle in 2020, but the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft is still a very viable, talented quarterback and his former team will see that this Sunday when the Eagles face the Washington Commanders at 1 p.m. at FedEx Field.
Wentz is No. 2 in the NFL in passing (650 yards) behind Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa (740) and third overall in total yards (685) behind Tagovailoa (740) and Jalen Hurts (723) over two games.
On Monday against Minnesota’s passive shell defense that dared him to throw, Hurts became the first player in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards (333) with a completion percentage above 80% (83.9%) and score two rushing touchdowns in the same game.
While Hurts continues to build an MVP year, Wentz has quietly had success of his own. The Eagles lead the NFL in offense, averaging 470.5 yards a game, second in rushing (189.5 yards/game, behind Cleveland’s 200.5), first in average yards-per-catch (9.1) and, more importantly, second in third-down efficiency (converting 17/30 for 56.7%, behind league-leading Buffalo’s 14/23 for 60.9%), Washington—under Wentz—has done well in critical areas, too.
The Commanders are third in the league in third-down efficiency, and Wentz and the Commanders have been perfect in the red zone this season, converting all five of their red zone opportunities. Wentz’s best down has come on third down, where he’s completed 17 of 21, for 212 yards and a 148.3 quarterback rating.
Though Wentz has always had a penchant to struggle at certain points in games. He’s a frontrunner. When things are going well, he plays well. In the Commanders’ 36-27 loss at Detroit, Washington punted on five of their six first-half possessions, with the other drive resulting in a safety. He’s good at playing from behind or playing with a big lead. He’ll make mistakes. Washington has a chance, only if the Eagles turn the ball over.
Against Detroit, Washington left tackle Charles Leno and right tackle Sam Cosmi had their hands full with Lions’ first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson, who had three sacks and three hurries. Wentz was under a lot of pressure. That will be the Eagles’ plan: Force Wentz to play faster and that will force his mechanics to deteriorate.
Wentz would love to hand his former team their first loss of the season.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written features for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, and his breaking story on Carson Wentz for PhillyVoice on January 21, 2019. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.