If you believe the unpaid experts on social media, Carson Wentz is forever stuck in the shadow of Nick Foles and should be benched for backup Josh McCown. If you listen to some voices in the media, you’ve learned that Wentz is an emotional weakling whose teammates don’t like playing with him.
Those keyboard critics were in full throttle late into Sunday’s game against Washington as Wentz fumbled three times. He’s prone to that — having dropped the ball 45 times since 2016.
His third fumble, late in the fourth quarter, led to a 43-yard Washington field goal and a 27-24 ‘Skins lead. It appeared disastrous — for the game and the entire season.
TV cameras showed Wentz pounding his chest on the sidelines, seeming to take the blame for his gaffe, wanting one more chance at redemption.
He got it. On the game’s final drive, Wentz drove the Eagles 75 yards in 4:26 for the winning TD. He fired darts to Dallas Goedert, Greg Ward and several other teammates who weren’t on the depth chart a few weeks back.
For the second straight game, he was perfect in crunch time, directing one of those comeback wins on which great QBs are based. Yes, both were against inferior opponents. Yes, Wentz’s uneven play in both games created the spot that required such late-game magic.
But both times he succeeded. You saw the maturation right in front of your eyes.
Wentz’s fourth-quarter stats Sunday: 11-for-11 for 89 yards and two TDs. The touch pass game-winner to Ward came with 26 seconds left, giving Washington no opportunity to come back in the game.
As I said, the kid is not flawless. Like Donovan McNabb before him, he’ll fall into a bad rhythm, firing worm burners. He doesn’t see (or ignores) open receivers at times. He has fumbled an astounding 13 times in the past eight games, losing six of them. His pocket presence needs to get much better.
But those flaws are fixable, particularly when the student has Wentz’s work ethic. What we’ve always known is that he possesses terrific raw talent. What we’re now seeing is the development of that late-game magic.
I sometimes rail at Wentz’s abusers, but I should really know better. Such criticism comes with the job.
To be a starting quarterback in Philadelphia is to invite year-round, career-long skepticism that often morphs into malice. Don’t believe me, ask Donovan McNabb.
“Number Five” was a goofball (remember the air guitar before Dallas?), who lacked the good sense to take the blame for losses, and may or may not have barfed in the Super Bowl. He was also an extremely good quarterback.
Before him, Randall Cunningham was a flashpoint for fans throughout his 11-year career here. And before that, Ron Jaworski was the No. 1 target of boo-birds just one season after leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl.
By the way, this isn’t just a Philadelphia thing, despite what national haters of our city argue. A few decades back I was in Buffalo, cringing at a sports radio debate whether Jim Kelly should be exiled in place of Frank Reich. And John Elway once almost divorced Denver over tabloid accounts that he had a drinking problem — and was a cheapskate doling out Halloween candy.
That’s probably worse than any shots Wentz has taken — for now. Who knows what’s to come. At least the back-to-back late-game wins should silence some of the hectorings.
Well, all the way up to Sunday’s game against Dallas, at least.