Eagles

Stellar performances have become the norm for Carson Wentz

Stellar performances have become the norm for Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz completed 23 of 36 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Eagles' 31-3 beating of the Bears Sunday afternoon (see Roob's observations). He had a passer rating of 109.4. 

Wentz had another stellar performance, keeping his name near the top of the list of favorites to win the NFL MVP award. 

Ho hum. 

"This is just Carson being Carson," head coach Doug Pederson said. 

Pederson said that as he finished answering a question asking if he ever anticipated this type of performance jump from Wentz in his second NFL season. Pederson said he didn't but that he prayed his team would be able to "do some of the things that [they've] done." 

Carson Wentz is answering those prayers. 

Aside from his touchdown totals, Wentz's numbers aren't staggering. He hasn't thrown for over 300 yards in a game since Oct. 8, but he's doing absolutely everything the Eagles need. He's making crucial plays at crucial times. And he's been doing it all season. 

At this point, the Eagles expect this from Wentz. 

"Yeah. And he expects it for himself," running back Corey Clement said. "He puts in the hard work and effort. I don't think it's anything surprising to him because if you work hard enough, good things should come. I don't think anything has come by luck. It's happened for a reason. Because he's putting the time and effort in."

The Bears hadn't gotten a chance to face Wentz since last Sept. 9, 2016, in Chicago. That was his second career game. The Eagles won that Monday night, but Wentz had a pretty modest showing. 

He's not a rookie anymore. 

"The difference between who we played last year and what he was today, the margin is crazy," Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. "He is just so much better than he was."

Sunday was Wentz's fifth game this season with three or more touchdown passes. He's one game shy of Norm Snead's franchise record of six, set in 1967. 

Wentz leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 28. He's just four shy of Sonny Jurgensen's team record of 32, set back in 1961. 

He's also just the third quarterback in NFL history to throw 28-plus touchdowns and no more than five interceptions through 11 games. The other two to do it are Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. 

So Wentz hasn't just been good. He's been historically good. And he's been even better than the statistics indicate. 

Time and time again this season, Wentz has pulled a Houdini move to escape from a would-be tackler. He did it again early in the second quarter Sunday afternoon. With Bears defensive back Kyle Fuller barreling down on him, Wentz somehow pulled a spin move to his left and scampered for a 16-yard gain on 3rd-and-9. 

It wasn't quite the magic trick he pulled against Washington, where he escaped from a pile, but this one was pretty good too. 

"It's week in, week out," Nelson Agholor said. "I love my dawg because that's what he does. He's very mobile. He's just tough too. Outside of the ability to juke defenders, he's just tough. If somebody is hanging up on him, he's trying to shed them off and make plays. A lot of respect for him."

The only plays more impressive than the ones when Wentz avoids hits are the ones when he takes them. There have been countless times this season Wentz has stared down pass-rushers and delivered throws knowing a hit was coming. 

He did the same thing Sunday against the Bears. 

"You cannot deny his toughness," Agholor said. "He's second to none with that."

With every game, it's becoming more and more possible that Wentz will become the first Eagles player to win the league MVP award since Norm Van Brocklin won it in 1960, also the last year the Eagles won a championship. 

"The things that we saw in him looking at him before the draft or the things that we're starting to see now," Pederson said. "He's such a competitor, and his will, his determination to make things right and the way he can elevate the play around him, meaning the guys around him, has just been incredible."

Wentz had another Wentz-like performance Sunday to the surprise of none of his teammates. 

Ho hum. 

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Mack Hollins
Roob: Hollins wasn't really a factor later in the season, once Torrey Smith got going, but he did show early in the year what kind of player he can be, notably with that 64-yard TD catch in the second Redskins game. Depending on what the Eagles do about Smith, Hollins should be either the Eagles' third or fourth receiver this fall. Either way, he'll be here, and I expect him to make a big jump in Year 2.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Hollins caught just 16 passes as a rookie and it seemed like he just never started producing the way he seems capable of. Even when Smith struggled, Hollins got more playing time and didn't produce. The good news is he's still young and plays a role on special teams. The Eagles will probably bolster their receiving corps in some way, but if they don't, Hollins will have a shot at starting if Smith is gone next season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alshon Jeffery
Roob: Jeffery really played better than his stats this year. He made every big catch, caught every big third-down pass, made huge plays in the end zone. Jeffery was a star receiver without a star receiver's stats. His unselfish attitude carried over to the rest of the receivers and throughout the roster. And he did it all with a rotator cuff injury that required post-season surgery. Can't wait to see what Alshon can do healthy.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Jeffery didn't put up eye-popping numbers during the regular season, but if you needed any proof he's a No. 1 receiver, go back and watch Super Bowl LII, when he made that ridiculous catch in the end zone for a huge touchdown. The good thing about Jeffery is he really doesn't care at all about his numbers. There are a lot of diva receivers in the NFL, but Jeffery clearly isn't one of them. All he cared about last year was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and he certainly helped get the Eagles there. 

Verdict: STAYS

Malcolm Jenkins
Roob: Jenkins has so many roles on and off the field — community activist, NFLPA organizer, locker room leader — it's easy to forget just how good a player he is. Jenkins has been here four years and has had four very solid, very consistent, very productive seasons. He made his second Pro Bowl this year and joined Bill Bradley (3) and Dawk (7) as only the third Eagles safety since 1960 to make multiple Pro Bowls. Jenkins is signed to a cap-friendly deal through 2020 and should be an Eagle for many years to come.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: As important as Jenkins is to the Eagles as a safety and defensive back, you could make a legitimate argument that he's even more important to the team as a leader and man. There's a reason he became the guy to follow up Doug Pederson's postgame speeches. He isn't just the leader of the defense; he's the leader of the entire team. And on the field, he's still playing at a really high, Pro Bowl caliber level. He's 30 now but is still signed through 2020 and maybe outside of Fletcher Cox is the Eagles' most important defensive player. 

Verdict: STAYS

Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Darrell Greene
Roob: The Hall of Fame cornerback is now 58 years old and 21 years removed from his last Pro Bowl season with the Redskins. Oh wait … wrong Darrell Green. This is Darrell GREENE, and he's a 6-foot-3, 320-pound guard out of San Diego State who's been on the Eagles' practice squad most of the last two years. The Eagles liked Greene enough to keep him around the last couple years, and unless they see something in Chance Warmack that I missed, Greene has a chance to stick around as a young O-line prospect.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Greene has been around now for the last two seasons. He was without a team for most of 2017; the Eagles didn't bring him back to the practice squad until December. The offensive guard had some real potential coming out of San Diego State, and the Eagles paid him a lot of guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent before 2016. But he's never really impressed them enough to stick around for good. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Hicks
Roob: With Hicks, it's always about durability, not ability. Hicks has played more than half a season only once in his three NFL seasons, and since he's under contract for 2018 with a modest $2.068 million cap figure, he's obviously not going anywhere. The question is what the Eagles do with him after 2018 when he's due to become a free agent. Hicks can play. We all know that. He needs to prove this year that he can stay healthy in order to get a big-money deal a year from now.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Losing Hicks was a problem in 2017 and his absence started showing up late in the season. He's a big-time playmaker. It's a shame he got hurt last year because if he didn't, he'd be in line for a payday. For now, he'll be back in the final year of his four-year rookie contract until he can prove he's the same player he was pre-injury. 

Verdict: STAYS

Kamu Grugier-Hill
Roob: Grugier-Hill must be Howie Roseman's dream. He's signed at the minimum through 2019 but is an awfully valuable member of the roster — a reserve linebacker and emergency kicker and maybe the team's best special teamer. Kamu's not going anywhere.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: He really doesn't play at all as a linebacker, but Grugier-Hill has become one of the best special teams players in the NFL and had a real chance to be named a Pro Bowler in 2017. He led the team in special teams tackles with 19 last season. He's still young, cheap and is a big part of Dave Fipp's group. 

Verdict: STAYS