From a physical sense, it’s hard to beat his touchdown pass to Corey Clement. He twisted and turned out of a sack and somehow made a strong, accurate throw from an awkward angle. There might not be five quarterbacks in the NFL with the athletic ability and arm to make that play.
If you want to go with the most exciting highlight, Wentz somehow escaping Washington’s pass rush was the one. Wentz was enveloped by the Redskins’ pass rush to the point you couldn’t see him on the television screen. Then suddenly he emerged from the scrum and rushed for 17 yards. It showed how fun Wentz is to watch. And it came on third-and-8 with the Eagles ahead by just seven points, so it was a huge play in the game.
Wentz showed off his mental mastery of the game on an audible for his fourth touchdown. He moved players around so he could fake a handoff to Clement, which opened up a passing lane for Nelson Agholor’s score. That gave the Eagles a 31-17 lead.
Pick any highlight you want. There were enough to go around.
The Eagles are the last one-loss team in the NFL this season, and Wentz is leading the way. He was fantastic on Monday night. He threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns, and was the Eagles’ leading rusher with 64 yards.
Wentz is a franchise-changing player. Philadelphia had very little to look forward to a couple years ago, and now they’re a Super Bowl contender in Wentz’s second season. And yes, this is where we have to mention that the Cleveland Browns traded the pick that became Wentz, who looks like a star already.
Let’s remember what Browns coach Hue Jackson said about Wentz.
“At the time, he wasn’t the right fit for us,” Jackson said last September, according to Eagles Wire. “I think Carson will have a bright future, and we decided to go in a different direction. We evaluated him as a really good player.”
Yes, because how could a franchise quarterback be the “right fit” for the Browns? This quote from baseball executive-turned-Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta is much worse.
“I think the hardest part, and where we have to stay the most disciplined, as much as you want a player, you can’t invent him if he doesn’t exist,” DePodesta said last year, according to Cleveland.com. “In a given year, there may be two or three NFL-ready quarterbacks at the college level. In another year, there literally may be zero. There just may be not be anybody in that year who’s good enough to be a top 20 quarterback in the NFL.
“Even though you have a desperate need for one, you have to resist the temptation of taking that guy just because you have a need if you don’t believe he’s one of those 20 guys at the end of the day. I think that’s the hardest part, just maintaining your discipline because you have the need. That’s what we did this year.”
Let’s say that the Browns’ baseball guy was wrong and Wentz is a top 20 quarterback. He looks like he’s much, much higher than No. 20.
This isn’t just to make fun of the Browns (though they deserve it), but it shows that you need to catch your fair share of breaks in the NFL. The Browns could have easily resisted all trade offers and drafted Wentz, who was a very good yet inexperienced prospect coming out of North Dakota State. Or, the Los Angeles Rams could have picked Wentz before the Eagles went on the clock – though Jared Goff, who went No. 1 ahead of Wentz, is having a good second season and would have been a good pick for Philly as well. It was no sure thing for the Eagles to get Wentz. But they did, and their entire franchise turned around.
It usually looks bad in the moment when a team gives up way too much draft capital to trade up and take a quarterback early. But the value of having a franchise quarterback in the NFL can’t be overstated. If you would have told the Eagles at the end of a 7-9 season in 2015 that they’d be perhaps the best team in the NFL in 2017, nobody would have believed it. But they didn’t know a big, strong-armed quarterback from North Dakota State was about to change everything.
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