Even when things aren't going smoothly for Carson Wentz, the second-year quarterback keeps finding ways to get the job done.
Wentz played arguably his worst game of the 2017 season Sunday. He missed wide-open receivers. He took sacks. The offense was inconsistent as a whole. And yet the Eagles still managed to defeat the 49ers, 33-10 (see breakdown).
Much like the steady rainfall at Lincoln Financial Field, Wentz's performance wasn't pretty. But it was good enough.
"We were sluggish early on," Wentz said. "(The 49ers) did some good things that kind of limited what we did offensively, and we just had to make some adjustments and stick to our game plan.
“Offensively, I know we have to be better. We have to be better in starting out sluggish like that two straight weeks, and we have to get that cleaned up.”
Wentz completed 18 of 32 passes (56.3 percent) for 211 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for an 84.2 passer rating — one point higher than his lowest mark of the season. We could quibble over which outing is actually the 24-year-old's worst, but this was against a 49ers squad still searching for its first win.
San Francisco was tied at zero or behind 3-0 for almost the entire first half.
"First of all, it's a good defense," coach Doug Pederson said. "They are very active on third down, really active on all downs.
“We didn't execute the protection as well. We got it fixed and were able to kind of hold it and piece it together, but at the same time, we've got to do better in that area.”
Protection was one of the issues. The 49ers blitzed early and often, sending a variety of pressures, some of which the Eagles hadn't seen on film. Wentz was sacked three times, all in the first half, before the offense was able to get it corrected.
The pass rush has become a common theme in the Eagles' slow starts of late, as defenses continue to search for ways to rattle Wentz.
"We're seeing blitz quite a bit," Pederson said. "I think we're probably the No. 1 team, offensively, that's being blitzed in the NFL right now. Teams are just coming after us.
“I don't know if it necessarily disrupted Carson. Obviously, it made him move around a little bit in the game, but later on, we were able to fix the protection.”
Pressure was certainly one aspect, but Wentz also missed the mark at times, including a potential 22-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery late in the first quarter.
Jeffery had his man beat. Wentz's 3rd-and-8 pass was overthrown. And while there was a pass rusher in his face, it's a play that was there to be made.
Fortunately, Wentz doesn't let the occasional misses bother him too much.
"It's a next-play mentality," Wentz said. "When you play this much, you're going to miss some throws. It kind of ticks me off right away, but it's just on to the next.
"I know I still have confidence in myself, coach still has confidence that we'll make the throw the next play. There's a handful of them this afternoon that I definitely wanted back, but that's the way it goes sometimes."
Wentz would eventually find Jeffery for their first big hook-up of the season — a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter that helped put the 49ers away (see Roob's observations).
"We've missed a couple of those throughout the season, so when we finally hit that one today, I was super excited because I just have to get that guy a chance to make plays sometimes," Wentz said.
“He went up and got that ball, broke some tackles, got in the end zone, and that's why we brought him here. We brought him here to make those big plays.”
Big plays such as those have helped the Eagles snap out of similar funks at the beginnings of their games against the Redskins and Panthers. The ability to go the distance of the field in a snap demoralizes opponents, as it seemed to the 49ers, who were only down 20-7 at the time.
But the other reason the Eagles have been able to survive slow starts by Wentz and company is the defense. Shortly after the Eagles pulled ahead 9-0 late in the second, it was a Jalen Mills interception and 37-yard return for a touchdown that initially gave the team a commanding lead.
By simply limiting turnovers — just the one interception — Wentz was able to manage the game.
"I think he did a good job as far as not turning the ball over today, and we did a good job as far as causing turnovers today," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We just have to make sure we keep protecting the offense and keep hiding some of the flaws sometimes.
“When we can't get it going (on offense), we have to make sure we get them going by bringing our energy.”
The Eagles' offense was thankful for the bailout.
“It was just really sloppy, probably the sloppiest we've been all year," Johnson said. "Hats off to the defense. They definitely won the game for us.”
Though it rained for much of the contest and the field was wet throughout, Wentz downplayed the conditions as a reason for his struggles, calling the weather a "non-factor." He certainly seemed to be pushing the ball downfield with minimal issues and no noticeable effect (see report card).
It simply wasn't the offense's best game, and while it may have been good enough to beat the 49ers, everybody realizes it might not be enough next week or the week after.
"I'm happy. I'm just disappointed," Johnson said. "Any time the offense doesn't play the way we're capable of, it feels like a loss for us.
“We found a way to win, but just kind of disappointed with how we played today.”
At the same time, the fact the Eagles won without Wentz's completing 70 percent of his passes, throwing for over 300 yards or scoring four touchdowns was a positive. It was proof this team is more than just its quarterback and is capable of winning even when Wentz doesn't have his best day.
“At the end of the day, if the quarterback, in Carson's case, doesn't have the numbers but we win, I'd rather have the win," Pederson said. "We can fix the other and get better, and move on to next week.”
Wentz is on pace to throw for 4,126 yards, with 38 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, and he has the Eagles off to a 7-1 record. I think he's going to be just fine.