Just about midway through his second season in the National Football League, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is becoming one of the top passers in the league and is putting together a season worthy of MVP consideration at the midway point.
Leading the Eagles to the NFL’s best record of 6-1 with a Monday night victory over Washington was aided by a couple of highlights that show just how determined and confident Wentz is in his second year in the league. It also demonstrated why he is commanding so much respect around the league as he continues to grow.
The box score of the Eagles’ 34-24 victory over the Redskins shows Wentz had a fine evening with 268 yards and four touchdowns with a game-high 63 rushing yards. Not bad at all, but it was how some of those stats came together that was remarkable and showed some of the growth and maturation of the second-year quarterback out of the FCS powerhouse program of North Dakota State.
One of those plays was one Jon Gruden gushed over on the Monday night broadcast that Wentz tore out of the North Dakota State playbook and brought with him to Philadelphia. The play itself was solid enough, but how Wentz was able to execute it under pressure is what dazzled those watching.
Watch that play again and notice how Wentz got the ball away to rookie running back Corey Clement with two Washington defenders closing in on him.
It is a pass that a rookie is advised not to make, but Wentz is now seasoned with a full season and a half of starting experience. And as he continues to grow, he continues to impress in a number of ways.
Wentz has shown he is tough to bring down because he has the ability to keep a play alive with his legs and frame. And even when it looks like he is being gobbled up, he somehow finds a way out of the pile and picks up a big gain on third down to keep a drive alive. Even North Dakota State was left speechless.
— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) October 24, 2017
— Coach Matthew Entz (@Coach_Entz) October 24, 2017
It is this tough and confident style of play that plays well with any fanbase, especially in a town like Philadelphia where your grit is valued more than your list of accomplishments. Just ask former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is without question the best quarterback in franchise history.
McNabb was never quite loved by the Eagles fans the way he should or could have been over the years. He was the best quarterback in franchise history, but players like Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook and Jeremiah Trotter were the players Eagles fans were receptive to for one reason or another. McNabb’s personality was what held some fans away from showing McNabb the same level of love others have received over the years. He was great and skilled, but he was somewhat distant from the fans over the years. Maybe it was being booed at the NFL Draft (a group of dumb Eagles fans were booing the non-selection of Ricky Williams and not the drafting of McNabb, but it was a situation McNabb never really came to grips understanding). And McNabb’s personality on the field was not always one that was received well with Eagles fans.
Wentz is doing all of the things that play well with the Eagles crowd. His play on the field is the style that is adored by Eagles fans and commands respect from his teammates and opponents. Off the field, Wentz is putting himself out there as a leader in the community. The story of his relationship with the family of Lukas Kusters, a young boy who lost a battle with cancer earlier this year. His story was profiled by ESPN during the game last night, and it is a story like that that shows how Wentz is making an impact off the field. And the best part about it is it is genuine and authentic.
Carson Wentz meets with the family of Lukas Kusters, the Dutch Destroyer, pregame. pic.twitter.com/EPDSPKoUzf
— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) October 23, 2017
Wentz is being viewed as a player that is not only good, but likable around the league and he is getting better every week he takes the field. So where exactly does this all lead?
For now, Wentz is firmly in the mid-year MVP discussion, but Wentz will tell you there is still a long way to go this season to do what he and the Eagles are focused on. The Eagles currently have a two-game lead in the loss column in the NFC East following their sweep of the Redskins. The Eagles still have to play two games against the Dallas Cowboys, who may or may not have Ezekiel Elliott running the ball. Next up for the Eagles is a home game against the woeful San Francisco 49ers, giving us a matchup between the team with the best record in the NFL and one of two teams without a win. A home game after that against the Denver Broncos looks less intimidating by the week as well, which is starting to suggest the Eagles could be 8-1 by the time they face the Cowboys in Dallas.
With the Falcons and Packers hitting some struggles in recent weeks, the Eagles have ascended to the top of the NFC. Whether they truly belong there will be determined in the second half of the season (a road trip to Seattle is always a challenge), but Wentz is proving worthy of the praise heading his way right now, and he is taking it in stride.
He’s just so darn likable.