Let’s be clear. The Eagles didn’t lose Sunday because of Carson Wentz. The starting QB — especially in our town — always takes the heat when his team disappoints. That goes with the gig.
But while Wentz was far from perfect, he does not deserve to be listed among the guilty in that humiliating 27-24 loss to the Lions. Hell, he wouldn’t even make the first busload of culprits.
The Eagles lost Sunday despite Wentz — not because of him.
They lost because his receivers dropped seven passes, two of which should have been touchdowns. They lost because his butter-fingered teammates fumbled three times. They lost because the Birds got flagged for three offensive pass interference penalties. Whoever saw that before?
Wentz did the best he could with a ragtag crew of backups and rookies. He dodged tacklers and scrambled to find time when a porous offensive line — always thought to be the strength of this team — allowed rushers to descend on him before you could count “two-Mississippi.”
In the end, the fourth-year QB finished 19-for-36 for 259 yards, two TD passes, and no interceptions. Grant him just three of those drops and Wentz would have had around 350 yards and four TDs.
But that didn’t stop the instant critics from putting their grubby thumbs to I-Phones with scathing social media reviews of how Wentz deserves the nickname “Three-Quarter Carson,” because of his inability to win games late.
Some of these gridiron authorities were fans venting in anger. That’s okay. Fans have a Constitutional right to be fickle. Today’s toast of the town is tomorrow’s burnt crust.
But other over-the-top faultfinders are so-called journalists or broadcasters who ought to know better. Too many in our town have been watching Skip Bayless for hot take inspiration.
Consider this: If rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside didn’t let a last-gasp Wentz bomb clank off his hands at the three-yard line, everyone leaves Lincoln Financial Field elated yesterday.
Likewise, if tight end Dallas Goedert doesn’t whiff on an easy TD catch in the second quarter, the story likely ends differently. Both Arcega-Whiteside and Goedert are young players in whom GM Howie Roseman invested substantial draft capital. Both let the franchise down.
A more infuriating offender is veteran Nelson Agholor who, just last week, muffed a surefire game-winning TD pass against Atlanta. Don’t be fooled by Agholor’s glossy stat line from Sunday (eight catches, two for TDs), the fifth-year veteran had another costly drop as well as a lost fumble.
After that fumble, Agholor was seen arguing on the sidelines with veteran tackle Jason Peters, who is known to be blunt with teammates when assessing their miscues.
I could go on pointing fingers for this shocker of a loss. Let’s not leave out a stalled pass rush (two sacks in three games), an un-special teams that allowed the NFL’s first kick return touchdown of the season, and the invisible Fletcher Cox — who had two fewer tackles than Wentz Sunday. You could look it up.
The Eagles blew a game they should have won for myriad reasons, the least of which is their franchise quarterback. Still, he’ll take most of the heat because that’s how it works here — from Jaworski to Cunningham to McNabb. For all I know, Norm Van Brocklin was labeled a bum until he won that 1960 championship.
Wentz’s biggest sin remains that he’s not Nick Foles. He didn’t lead the Eagles to that Super Bowl title. The shoddy criticism will continue until he does.
My hunch is that Wentz can handle it. I’m just not sure that I can.