Eagles need Wentz to lead them to playoffs

Eliot Shorr-Parks
November 12, 2019 - 9:00 am
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The Eagles’ first nine games have felt like an entire season. Five road games. Three prime-time games. Multiple season-ending injuries, devastating drops and already, before their Bye Week even hit, their season has been on the line twice. 

Despite it all, the team has emerged from it at 5-4 and a playoff spot definitely within reach. 

Now it is time for Carson Wentz to take them there. 

Yes, football is a team game, and Wentz can’t play call the plays, play defense, block opposing defensive ends or catch the ball himself. To make the playoffs, however, the Eagles are going to need Wentz to lead the way to the postseason, proving that he belongs in the conversation for best in the game. 

To be clear, this isn’t to say that the Eagles can’t or shouldn’t lean on the run. The run can be the priority on offense, as it has in the team’s biggest wins this season, but the last time this team was an actual contender with Wentz on the field it was because he was special, and that will need to be the case again. LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and the other Eagles’ running backs in 2017 certainly helped, but that team was dominant because of Wentz and what he was able to do in big spots — starting with third-down and in the red zone. 

How Wentz performs in those areas, his ability to convert key third downs, turn field-goals into touchdowns and nothing into something, will likely be the deciding factor in whether this team can get through the final seven games and into the postseason for the first time with him at quarterback. 

Even without DeSean Jackson, make no mistake about it — Wentz has enough weapons around him to engineer a playoff run. 

He has arguably the best tight end in the game in Zach Ertz, a very good receiving backup in Dallas Goedert, two dynamic running backs with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders, one of the best offensive lines in the league and one of the best head coaches as well. The team also recently added one of his best friends, Jordan Matthews, to help a receiving core that has been under performing.

Even with Alshon Jeffery playing some of the worst football of his career, Wentz has basically the exact same group of weapons on offense — if not better — as the ones Nick Foles had last season when he took the team on a playoff run. The stretch is longer than Foles had to go on, but in that run, Foles beat two very good teams — the Houston Texans and Los Angeles Rams — by leading the offense to 31 points-per-game. The defense was not great, giving up an average of 26.5 points-per-game. The difference was the offense and their dominance was fueled by the passing game, as they averaged just 86 yards-per-game on the ground in those two wins, to 366 yards through the air.

Wentz has a chance to lead his team on the same kind of run. He doesn’t have to go undefeated, and shouldn’t be expected to, in the final seven games. He does, however, have a chance to cement his place as a difference-making, elite quarterback by winning enough games to get his team into the postseason.  Taking this team into the postseason would be more impressive than his stretch of impressive, MVP-level play in 2017. 

So how can he do it?

First, outplay either Tom Brady or Russell Wilson in his own building and win one of the next two against really good teams in New England and Seattle. It won’t be easy, but chances are the best quarterback in each game will walk away with the win, and asking that quarterback to be Wentz isn't too much to expect at this point of his career. 

The, make sure his team wins the games they are supposed to win, against very bad teams in Washington, New York and Miami. 

Finally, for the first time since 2017 and likely in prime time, beat Dallas and Dak Prescott in a game that will likely decide the NFC East title. 

None of the above should be viewed as unfair requests. The Eagles drafted Wentz No. 2 overall, and committed a massive, franchise-quarterback contract to him for moments like these. 

Now is the time for Wentz to show they were right to do so. 

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

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