Eagles

Let's start making the real comparisons with Carson Wentz

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Let's start making the real comparisons with Carson Wentz

It’s time to stop comparing Carson Wentz to other “young quarterbacks.” It’s time to stop comparing him to Dak Prescott or other current rivals. It’s time to stop comparing him to Donovan McNabb or any other Eagles quarterback from the distant past.

Because with Wentz, it’s no longer about how he stacks up to other Eagles QBs or other young QBs. It’s about how he stacks up with Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.

I’ve seen enough.

I’ve seen enough after 27 career games and 11 games this year to safely conclude that Wentz, provided of course he stays healthy, will go down as an all-time great.  

I know, I know. Crazy, right?

This isn't to say he's as accomplished as those guys, just that if you project his current level of play over an entire career, he's right there.

Just 15 months ago, Wentz was the Eagles’ third-stringer behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, and it looked like he wasn’t even going to play.

Now? He’s putting up numbers that very, very few quarterbacks have ever put up at any point of their career.

Think I’m nuts? Think this is premature? That’s fine. Feel free. But the numbers don’t lie. The eye test doesn’t lie. The body of work doesn’t lie.

Let’s just start with 28 touchdowns and five interceptions. Do you know how rare it is for a quarterback to have 28 or more touchdowns and five or fewer interceptions at this point of a season?

Brady has done it twice, Rodgers has done it twice and Wentz has now done it once. And that’s it.

And Brady first accomplished it in his eighth season as a 30-year-old and Rodgers in his seventh season as a 27-year-old.

Wentz is 24.

What about 22 touchdowns in a seven-game span, which Wentz has done over the last seven games? He's one of nine guys in NFL history to do that over any seven-game span but one of only five who's thrown three or fewer interceptions along the way.

One of the most impressive things about Wentz is his consistency. Since that Ravens loss last December in Baltimore, the Eagles are 12-1, and Wentz hasn't experienced anything remotely resembling a bad game. At his worst, he's been very good. At his best, he's been dazzling.

In fact, Wentz has strung together 12 consecutive games with a passer rating of 83 or higher.

Who's had longer streaks in NFL history? Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Steve Young and Troy Aikman. All are or will be Hall of Famers.

Still not buying in? Still not convinced?

OK, how about this:

Wentz is on pace to throw an interception every 70 pass attempts this year and a touchdown every 12½ attempts. There've been only two seasons in NFL history in which a quarterback threw touchdown passes that frequently and interceptions that infrequently. Rodgers in 2011 and Brady in 2007.

Now, the one thing obviously separating Wentz from Brady, Rodgers, Manning, Drew Brees and other all-time great quarterbacks is that he hasn't done it year after year after year, and he hasn't won a Super Bowl. Hasn't even made the playoffs yet.

But he's not going anywhere. All that stuff will come.

I won't be shocked if it comes this year. Honestly, I would be surprised if Wentz doesn't win at least two Lombardis by the time he hangs 'em up.

If you aren't convinced yet that he's capable of it, please raise your hand. Anybody? Didn't think so.

There will be slumps. There will be bad games. There will be challenges along the way.

But you know with his work ethic, determination, approach to practice and the way he takes care of himself, he's only going to get better. Even if he never improves and simply maintains his current level of play over a period of years, we’re still looking at one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

Just based on pure skill, pure ability to carry a football team, he's there.

Wentz has played 27 regular-season NFL games, and we're having this conversation.

Wentz's next touchdown pass will be his 29th.

Brady didn't throw 29 touchdown passes until his eighth season.

And if you want to say, "The Eagles haven't beaten anybody this year," keep in mind that Wentz has faced the No. 4, No. 6 and No. 12 pass defenses in the league and threw at least three touchdowns with no interceptions against each one.

What about McNabb? Don't misjudge all this for any sort of knock on No. 5. It isn't. He was an all-time great Eagle. The best quarterback in Eagles' history. He won nine playoff games for this franchise and reached a Super Bowl.

Wentz doesn't have a postseason résumé yet, but that will come in time.

He's already doing things no quarterback this young has ever done, things that very few quarterbacks of any age have done.

He's your quarterback. And he will be for a very long time.

Eagles thrilled to avoid another wild-card nightmare

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Eagles thrilled to avoid another wild-card nightmare

EAST RUTHERFORD — They lost in the wild-card round the last three times they reached the playoffs — 2009, 2010 and 2013.

They've lost in the wild-card round six times since 1989, four of them at home. 

The Eagles are 6-6 in the wild-card round since 1989, and only three teams have lost more wild-card games during that span — the Lions (0-8), Vikings (3-7) and Bengals (1-7).

Nobody has lost more home wild-card games since 1989. Nobody.

The Eagles haven't won a wild-card game since 2008 in Minneapolis and they haven't won one at home since 2006 against Eli Manning and the Giants.

So the message, if you're the Eagles, is: PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM THE WILD-CARD ROUND.

And this year, thanks to their 12-2 start, the Eagles can.

The Eagles on Sunday clinched a first-round bye for the first time in 13 years.

"To me, the significance of having a first-round bye is it puts you one game closer to the Super Bowl," Malcolm Jenkins said. "Two is obviously a lot easier than three. You've still got to win some games, but at least we know we don't have to play that wild-card weekend, we don't have to go on the road that second weekend. You're off that first weekend, your odds go up."

The Eagles can clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as early as Saturday if the Vikings lose to the Packers or with a win Monday night against the Raiders at the Linc (where Nick Foles has won eight straight starts).

"It's big," Brandon Graham said. "Get your body together before getting to the real, real deal. 

"It's a reward. To know that we've got a first-round bye and we don't even have to worry about that first round of the playoffs? Third time I've been in the playoffs, second time I've played, first time I've gotten a first-round bye. It's huge."

The Eagles have only earned a first-round bye five previous times since the AFL-NFL merger and the inception of the wild-card round in 1970 — in 1980, 1988, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

They were at home for the conference semifinals every year but 1988, when they lost to the Bears in the Fog Bowl at Soldier Field in Chicago.

"We're slowly checking boxes," head coach Doug Pederson said. "NFC East a week ago and a bye and a home game (in the conference semifinal round) now. Check the box."

If the Eagles don't clinch the No. 1 seed this coming weekend, they can do it the last weekend of the season either with a win over the Cowboys at the Linc or a Vikings loss at home to the Bears.

"It's something this organization earned, and we have to keep on fighting and have the same mindset that got us to this position and keep on winning football games," Nelson Agholor said. "Stay hungry."

If anybody understands that simply clinching a first-round bye doesn't mean you're going to make it to the conference championship game, it's Foles.

He was with the Chiefs last year as Alex Smith's backup when they earned a No. 2 seed before losing at home to the Steelers.

"I was fortunate enough to be a part of one last year in Kansas City, but … we can't focus on that," he said.

"It's a long season and guys who are nicked up, it can help with their injuries. But we have to finish these games out strong and keep improving. We still have a lot of work to do this season."

Fletcher Cox puts Cowboys WR in his place

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Fletcher Cox puts Cowboys WR in his place

The NFC East has been wrapped up for over a week so the Cowboys are no longer chasing the Eagles, but they're still watching them intently.

On Sunday at 4:25 p.m., just after the Eagles wrapped up an exciting-but-concerning 34-29 win over the Giants, Cowboys wide receiver Brice Butler tweeted out:

Two hours later, after Fletcher Cox had a chance to decompress from the win that clinched the Eagles a first-round bye, he responded.

Eagles players likely saw how the Cowboys' game unfolded as well. Dallas benefited on Sunday Night Football from that damn touchback rule, winning 20-17 after Raiders QB Derek Carr fumbled out of the end zone in the final minute.

The Eagles are 12-2; the Cowboys are 8-6. If the Falcons lose tonight to the Buccanneers, there will be a four-way tie for the final NFC playoff spot between Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle and Dallas. 

However, the Cowboys would currently lose the tiebreaker to the Lions and Seahawks.

The Eagles and Cowboys meet in Week 17 at the Linc in what should be Ezekiel Elliott's second game back from his six-game suspension.