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The Quiet Rise Of Carson Wentz Has Philly En Route To The Super Bowl

Dennis Wierzbicki, USA Today

The heightened play of quarterback Carson Wentz this season is just what the Philadelphia Eagles have been missing.

On June 12, 10-year-old childhood cancer warrior Lukas Kusters passed away. Thirteen days prior, his wish came true when he got to spend a day with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Making one of Lukas’ last days so memorable established such a powerful, emotional connection between the Kusters family and the Eagles’ second-year quarterback that Lukas was buried in a Carson Wentz jersey. 

Wentz’ genuine heart and relateable American attitude have made him a fixture in the National Football League in just his second season. In addition to openly exercising his Christian faith and making dreams come true for kids who have lost everything else, Carson Wentz has the tough personality that a cold-weather quarterback needs. His passion for hunting, above-average arm strength, and ability to take big hits have driven comparisons to Brett Favre, even from Philadelphia Head Coach Doug Pederson

In a season where quarterback health and availability is more unpredictable than any I can remember, Carson Wentz has remained unscathed, thanks to a combination of his mobility and Philadelphia’s standout offensive line play. Durability and toughness have been the themes of Wentz’s young career. The second overall pick of 2016 has yet to miss a start. 


At 6-1, Philly sits in the driver’s seat of the NFC playoff race. The improved year-to-year play of Carson Wentz has been the key factor to the Eagles’ success and Super Bowl aspirations this season. After a 7-9 finish a year ago, the Eagles sit comfortably in first place in the NFC East and currently top our (and several other) power rankings

It’s about time that the Eagles have gotten their passing game together. Consistent quarterbacking has been their missing link since Donovan McNabb left for Washington in 2010. Since then, Philly has sifted through quarterbacks like Michael Vick, Nick Foles, and Sam Bradford who couldn’t match the City of Brotherly Love’s high expectations.  

Donovan McNabb PHI StatsCompAttPctYdsY/ATDIntRateRecord
1999-20092,801
4,746
59%
32,873
6.9
216
100
86.5
92-49-1
Michael Vick PHI Stats
Comp
Att
Pct
Yds
Y/A
TD
INT
Rate
Record
2009-2013
773
1,300
60%
9,984
7.7
57
33
87.7
20-20
Nick Foles PHI Stats
Comp
Att
Pct
Yds
Y/A
TD
INT
Rate
Record
2012-2014
550
893
62%
6,753
7.6
46
17
94.2
15-9
Mark Sanchez PHI Stats
Comp
Att
Pct
Yds
Y/A
TD
INT
Rate
Record
2014-2015
257
400
64%
3,034
7.6
18
15
86.6
4-6
Sam Bradford PHI Stats
Comp
Att
Pct
Yds
Y/A
TD
INT
Rate
Record
2015
346
532
65%
3,725
7.0
19
14
86.4
7-7



It doesn’t get much bigger than being the franchise quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Wentz’ rise to stardom has been more rapid than that of just about any NFL quarterback in recent history. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott saw a similar, expedited rise to fame last season, but had already been established in the media a few years prior as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Tim Tebow dominated NFL coverage as soon as he stepped onto the scene as the Broncos’ starter in 2011, but had previously been the most popular college player ever. Tom Brady rose from Drew Bledsoe’s backup to Super Bowl champion in 2001, but people had at least been aware of his career at Michigan. Carson Wentz’ story is a special one.  

Wentz flew under the radar until scouts and media looked around the NCAA for quarterback talent heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. With all of the eligible Division 1-A quarterbacks out there, none but 21-year-old Cal quarterback Jared Goff stood out on film. To find another great arm coming out of college, scouts had to dig deep enough to find a 6’5”, 237 pound quarterback slinging the rock at North Dakota State University. 

Image Photo: Tim Heitman, USA Today

Carson Wentz threw for 45 touchdowns and over 5,000 yards in 42 games played for the Bison.  Just three months after playing FCS football in Fargo, North Dakota, Wentz took the big stage in Chicago for the NFL Draft, being drafted #2 overall by Philadelphia. The Eagles traded Sam Bradford and immediately threw Wentz into the fire to start the 2016 season, in which he put up a modest quarterback rating of 79.3 and nearly a 1:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

Carson Wentz StatsCompAttPctYdsY/ATDIntRateRecord
201637960762%3,7826.2161479.37-9
201714323262%1,8528.0174104.06-1


This season (another case of Wentz emerging when no one saw him coming), Wentz has soared high above all expectations, throwing for 17 touchdowns against four interceptions en route to a potential MVP season. His 8.0 yards per attempt has been a game changer. Driving the ball down the field isn’t something that Carson Wentz just picked up this season. In college, he averaged 8.4 yards per attempt. 

Wentz’ play during his second season has elevated the entire offense in a major way. After finishing 22nd in the league last year, Philadelphia currently has the fifth-best offense in the NFL with 381 yards per game. 

Team OffenseYards Per Game
1. New England410.7
2. Tampa Bay392.8
3. Kansas City392.4
4. New Orleans391.0
5. Philadelphia381.4


Their defense isn’t bad, either. The Eagles D ranks 20th in the league in yards given up per game, but 12th in points per game allowed.

Team DefensePoints Per Game Allowed
1. Seattle15.7
2. Jacksonville15.7
3. Pittsburgh16.6
4. Buffalo16.8
5. Minnesota17.0
6. Cincinnati18.7
7. Miami18.7
8. LA Chargers18.7
9. Denver19.7
10. LA Rams19.7
11. Carolina19.9
12. Philadelphia20.9


Philly looks about as good as can be in the NFC playoff picture to this point. Heading into Week 8, the Eagles boast the best record in the NFL, sitting cleanly atop their division. The Eagles demonstrated their offensive firepower on Monday Night Football this week in a 34-24 win over the Redskins. They are a step ahead of the Cowboys and miles ahead of the Giants. 


Philadelphia Eagles Remaining Schedule

WeekOpponent
Week 8vs. San Francisco (0-7)
Week 9
vs. Denver (3-3)
Week 10
BYE
Week 11
@ Dallas (3-3)
Week 12
vs. Chicago (3-4)
Week 13
@ Seattle (4-2)
Week 14
@ LA Rams (5-2)
Week 15
@ NY Giants (1-6)
Week 16
vs. Oakland (3-4)
Week 17
vs. Dallas (3-3)


Looking ahead to the remainder of their schedule, the Eagles face opponents with a combined record of 22-31 this season. Replacing franchise Tackle Jason Peters will be a challenge, but there is considerable ground for the other top dogs in the NFC to make up in order to replace the Eagles as the #1 seed. 

Philadelphia hasn’t won a playoff game in 10 years. Carson Wentz has the ability to take this team to the Super Bowl this season by doing what he has done from the very beginning on his unexpected flight to the top… just being himself.  

You can make a donation in honor of Lukas Kusters or order a “Dutch Destroyer” (Lukas’ nickname) bracelet to benefit families like the Kusters here. 


Edited by Jeremy Losak.

SQuiz
Donovan McNabb holds each of the following Philadelphia Eagles passing records except:
Created 10/24/17
  1. Completions
  2. Yards
  3. Touchdowns
  4. Interceptions

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