Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Carson Wentz begins his comeback

Eliot Shorr-Parks
September 08, 2019 - 6:01 pm
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It had been almost a year since the last time Carson Wentz played in a football game for the Eagles. 

Almost two years since he suited up for one completely healthy. 

The result was worth the wait.

It wasn’t pretty at the start, but by the time the final seconds ticked away in the Eagles’ 32-27 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday, Wentz had a stat line that looked a lot more like one he was used to putting up in 2017 as opposed to 2018. 

313 yards. 3 touchdowns and no turnovers. A quarterback rating of 121. A 71% completion percentage on 39 attempts. 

“It felt great to finally get out there,” Wentz said. “It was a long offseason with a lot of things going on.”

To say that a lot has happened would be an understatement. Wentz entered Sunday’s game with an immense amount of pressure on his shoulders, considering his backup had taken his team into the postseason each of the last two seasons, and he was coming off of back-to-back season ending injuries. 

At the beginning it looked like the pressure might have been getting to him. Wentz totaled just 20 yards passing in the first quarter on three completions. His offense was shutout and in a 17-0 hole. 

Despite the struggles, however, Wentz was worried. 

“I didn’t feel offensively we were really that bad,” Wentz said. “We just hurt ourselves.”

The self-inflicted wounds stopped with about five minutes to go in the second quarter and never returned. 

After netting zero points on their first three drives, Wentz and the Eagles’ offense scored on five of their final six possessions, with four of those drives ending in touchdowns. The first touchdown was to receiver DeSean Jackson, a 51-yard bomb that was perfectly thrown by Wentz. The second was to receiver Alshon Jeffery, a five-yard strike that Wentz delivered after evading pressure in the backfield, moving up in the pocket and firing the ball to the back of the end zone. 

By the time Wentz hit Jackson for another deep touchdown, a 53-yard bomb, the Eagles had turned a 17-0 deficit into a 21-20 lead. 

“We were on the ball,” Wentz said of his final touchdown to Jackson, “and we made the call based off of the look the defense was giving us.”

One area where Wentz really shined on Sunday was third down, finishing 12-of-13 for 178 yards and three touchdowns on the crucial down. His ability to extend drives was huge in helping the Eagles mount a comeback. After four of their first five drives lasted five plays or less, the Eagles had scoring drives of 12, 9 and 19 plays to put the game away, totaling 17 points on those drives. 

“It is something we work a lot on it,” Wentz said of third down. “Third down and red zone is something we always talk about, we always work on.”

Despite working on them last year, the results were never there. On Sunday they were in a big way, results that had Wentz feeling very encouraged after the game. 

“I felt great physically and mentally. It was a lot of hard work the last two weeks on game planning, so mentally I felt really good with the plan, and coach did a great job putting it together,” Wentz said. “Physically, just feeling free. Getting rid of the knee brace and just going out to play ball.”

No, the strong opening to the season doesn’t wipe away the issues that have haunted him the last two seasons. Beating good teams, winning shoot outs, staying healthy, advancing in the playoffs — all of those questions about Wentz are still there. 

Wentz couldn’t exercise all of those demons on Sunday, however. What he could do is get his comeback season off to a strong start. 

On Sunday that mission was definitely accomplished. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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