The Eagles whipped the Bears Sunday, 22-14, but you wouldn’t have known it monitoring local social media. To paraphrase Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia is the place where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it on your Twitter feed.
To be fair to the critics, there were aspects of Sunday’s win that should rankle even the most optimistic diehard:
Alshon Jeffrey’s pitchfork hands. Coach Doug Pederson abandoning the running game. DeSean’s Jackson’s quick exit from re-injury. Darren Sproles looking cooked as his career winds down. Safety Andrew Sendejo’s reckless stupidity.
All-cause for concern, if not anger. Hey, this is a flawed team playing below the Super Bowl expectations of its fans. While the last two wins put them back in the playoff hunt, there’s plenty to carp about.
Except, on social media at least, the center of that condemnation was once again the quarterback. I’ll spare you the 280-character critiques, but Twitter overflowed with fifth-quarter analysts (many of whom draw media conglomerate paychecks) blasting Carson Wentz as inept, inaccurate, un-clutch and — of course — not the embodiment of Nick Foles.
What the hell were they watching? Obviously, not the last 8:39 of the game, when the Eagles offense desperately needed to stay on the field and close out the win. For the second straight week, Wentz overcame his own teammates’ errors, converting four third-down passes to keep the clock moving.
The 16-play, 69-yard drive ended with a 38-yard Jake Elliott field goal with 25 seconds remaining. And that kept postseason hopes alive heading into the bye week.
Look, Wentz is not flawless — he sailed some passes early in the game. His numbers aren’t flashy — 239 passing yards won’t make the ESPN Fantasy Leaders scroll at the bottom of your TV screen. He doesn’t rank high in completion percentage, although I’d argue that’s the most overrated stat this side of saves in baseball.
But Wentz is the steady hand on an offense that needs one. He’s smart enough to take what the defense gives him and not turn the ball over (just four interceptions all season). He keeps his cool at times when other QBs would stare down the latest receiver to drop a perfect spiral.
Oh, and those wide receivers. Let’s do a quick review:
– Jackson returned from injury to play one series and limp away. There’s no telling when we’ll again see the team’s only deep threat.
-Nelson Agholor wore his Halloween Invisible Man costume, snagging three balls for 21 yards. He is on pace for 501 receiving yards this season.
-Jeffrey had three drops, continuing the trend that started in last year’s playoffs against New Orleans. It’s painful to see a frontline player decline as precipitously as Jeffrey has he signed that $52 million extension in 2018.
-Mack Hollins? JJ Arcega-Whiteside? Don’t make me laugh.
Imagine standing behind center and looking out at this crew. And yet, Wentz is the one drawing flak.
After I posted my own rant on this Sunday night, ESPN’s Kevin Negandi — a local guy and Temple grad — backed me up, writing, “Every week we go through this. It’s so tiresome. He cannot catch his own passes.”
Negandi is correct, of course. Not that his opinion, or mind, will silence the Greek chorus. That probably won’t happen unless and until Wentz rides up Broad Street, this time with the Lombardi Trophy in his hands.
I can just tell you what I see – a steady hand performing well, despite the tools given to him.
The Eagles have their problems. But Wentz isn’t one of them. Try arguing that in 280 characters.