Donovan McNabb

Carson Wentz levels up, places himself in elite QB tier after statement win

Carson Wentz levels up, places himself in elite QB tier after statement win

CHARLOTTE — This one meant more to Carson Wentz. Because of how many challenges he overcame. And how many challenges the Eagles overcame.
 
Wentz led the Eagles to their fourth straight win Thursday night, and nothing came easy for him in the 28-23 win over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium (see observations).
 
Wentz got hit. Wentz got sacked. There were drops. There were penalties. There was a short week, a deafening hostile crowd, and, yes, there were officials who did not seem very interested in seeing the Eagles win (see story)

You name it, the Eagles were up against it. You name it, Wentz overcame it.
 
"It feels good, and I think it says a lot about the guys in this locker room. We stayed together the whole game," he said. "They did some good things defensively, some different pressure looks that we haven't seen.

"That's tough on a short week, but we found a way to win a close ballgame, and that's ultimately what we struggled with last year, winning on the road and winning close ballgames. We've done that successfully these first six games."
 
Wentz got battered early, got his sea legs in the second half and finished strong. 
 
He completed only 16 of 30 passes — just 53 percent — but threw three touchdowns and had no interceptions, and made big throw after big throw in the second half as the Eagles warded off every Panthers' comeback bid. 

The Eagles scored on three of their first four second-half drives, including a third-quarter TD drive in which Wentz was 5 for 5 for 90 yards and overcame a 2nd-and-25 and a 3rd-and-16.

"That was huge," Wentz said. "That was a huge drive. You never want to be in 3rd-and-16 and Carolina ... made it tough on us, but we found a way to convert that one and then had the big play shortly thereafter (37 yards to Alshon Jeffery) and just kept our foot on the gas and found a way to get in the endzone there."

That TD gave the Eagles a 12-point lead, and Wentz capped it with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor.
 
"That's the one thing about this kid — he's so tough mentally and physically," Pederson said. "He just stays in there and battles and still, his eyes are down the field. He doesn't let (getting hit) get to him. 

"He's a great leader of this football team even in his second year. Guys really respect the way he plays. It's exciting to see from your quarterback."
 
Wentz just keeps getting better, and it's easy to forget that he's only 22 games into his NFL career.
 
"He is a big quarterback, and he is fearless," Panthers cornerback James Bradberry said. "I saw him take on one of our linebackers and a safety down there by the goal line. You could tell he was trying to will his team to win."
 
These last two weeks, Wentz has thrown seven touchdowns and one interception. He threw 16 TDs all last year.
 
He's fashioned a passer rating of 90 or higher in four straight games — only two shy of the franchise record — and his 99.6 passer rating is eighth-highest in the league.
 
Wentz has a game in hand but is now tied with Aaron Rodgers with an NFL-best 13 touchdown passes. He had 16 all last year.
 
The last two weeks, Wentz has blossomed. He's got seven TDs, one interception, 526 passing yards and passer ratings of 128.3 and 110.7.
 
The Eagles are 5-1, winners of four straight, and their 24-year-old quarterback is a legitimate MVP candidate.
 
Wentz has won games before, but this felt different. This felt like a young player genuinely elevating himself into the pantheon of elite NFL QBs.
 
"You saw glimpses of it when he was in college, obviously, with the championships and the success that he had," Pederson said. "You just look at his whole sports life and the success he's had — you just never know though until you get them in your building and you start coaching them to see exactly what you've got.
 
"That goes with any player, but the quarterback position is so important in this league and that's one position that you've got to get right and he's the right player for the Philadephia Eagles."
 
With his win Thursday night, Wentz improved to 12-10 in his career (and 7-1 in his last eight starts). One more win ties Donovan McNabb for most wins by an Eagles quarterback in his first two years in the league. 
 
With 10 games to go.
 
McNabb is the greatest quarterback in Eagles' history, but after the Eagles beat the Cards at the Linc five days ago, he said he won't have any team records left in a decade.
 
"He's going to break all of them," McNabb said.
 
Wentz and his teammates aren't due back to the NovaCare Complex until Tuesday, so they have a few days to actually enjoy this one before starting preparations for the Redskins.
 
"It feels great," Wentz said. "That was a hard-fought win. On the road, on a short week, on primetime TV. So to come out of it 5-1 and to know that we're at home the next couple of weeks, that's big for us."

Hey, Donovan: You're no Carson Wentz

Hey, Donovan: You're no Carson Wentz

The Eagles’ win over Arizona on Sunday was the kind of victory Birds fans have dreaming of for years. The Eagles dominated in all phases of the game. Nelson Agholor did a very fine impression of an elite wide receiver. Weak position groups like the offensive line and the secondary played well. The Eagles even did a choreographed, baseball-themed touchdown celebration that doubled as a clear message to Mike Trout, who was at the game, that it’s time for him to sign with the Phillies.

But most importantly of all, Carson Wentz proved himself an elite quarterback, throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. Yes, Carson’s the real deal, and feelings are good here in Philadelphia.

After that victory, nothing could kill the mood. Nothing could put a damper on a great win. Unless. Unless…

Yes, Donovan McNabb was at the game, and even introduced himself to Wentz afterward. Because even years into his retirement, Donovan just had to do what he did throughout his Eagles career: Make it all about him.

McNabb felt the need to crash the postgame show, saying some stuff he obviously didn’t mean about Wentz has “got a promising career” and “will absolutely make the playoffs.” Pathetic.

The truth is, because there can only be one top Eagles quarterback in all of our lifetimes, every fan must make a choice, and make it right now: McNabb or Wentz? The morning show asked that very question Monday and yes, the fans have spoken:

Still, it just goes to show how lucky we are to have Carson Wentz. Carson will never get sick on the final drive of the Super Bowl. He’ll never lose three straight NFC championship games. He’ll never get into a bitter, years-long feud with a local boxing champion. If Nelson Agholor demands a new contract during training camp next year, Carson will go to bat for him. And if a busload of Eagles fans had taken a bus up to the draft last year to demand the Birds draft someone else, Wentz wouldn’t have held a grudge. He’d have understood.

Here’s my conspiracy theory: McNabb, of course, lost the NFC Championship Game, to the Arizona Cardinals, back in 2008. Do you think it was a coincidence that he chose another game against Arizona, to show up and upstage his more talented successor?

Anyway, let’s enjoy the ride, Eagles fans. When can we arrange for Jeff Garcia to come and meet Carson?

I’ll give my followers the last word:

Other Philly sports takes:

-Really good point by Colin Cowherd on the radio last week: It was unfair for Philadelphia to “run Andy Reid out of town,” after he went 4-12 in his 14th season.

-Sure, I called for the Phillies to fire Pete Mackanin numerous times throughout the season, especially after he failed to prevent Odubel Herrera baserunning gaffes. But firing him on a Friday instead of Sunday? That’s just classless.

-I’m confident in the Phils’ manager search, as long as they don’t do something ridiculous like interview Ruben Amaro, Jr.

-Yes, the Sixers gave Joel Embiid the same amount of years- and $23 million more dollars- than the Phillies gave Ryan Howard. Good thing Embiid doesn’t have Howard’s injury history.

-Where’s Carson Wentz’s nine-figure contract? Where’s Rhys Hoskins’? I hate how cheap our teams are.

Follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter. 

Gunn's bullet points: Return of Barner; McNabb's take on the Eagles

Gunn's bullet points: Return of Barner; McNabb's take on the Eagles

Derrick Gunn has three bullet points from the Eagles' 34-7 win over the Cardinals (see breakdown).

• What a great story Kenjon Barner was in this game. The Eagles let him walk after last season, he was with the Chargers briefly and they cut him early in September. All of a sudden he finds himself back with the Birds. Against Arizona, Barner had only 23 yards rushing, but 110 yards total on three punt returns, including a 76-yard return in the first quarter that set up an Eagles touchdown. Barner told me he never worried about whether he was going to get back into football and he was at peace with where he was in life. Coming into this game, Doug Pederson had said Barner wasn’t that well-versed in the overall offense and probably wouldn’t get many reps, but Barner said when running backs coach Duce Staley told him to study his playbook he knew he had to be ready. Barner ended up with five carries.
 
• Torrey Smith had a nice bounce-back game after having a rough couple of weeks with a case of the drops. On his 59-yard TD catch, I asked him what was going through his mind as the ball was in flight. His response, “Look the ball in and secure it.” When he got to the end zone he knelt down and prayed, with the reason being, “It meant so much to me after what I was going through." He also added, when you come from where he grew up you deal adversity every day so dealing with football adversity is nothing.
 
• Donovan McNabb was at the game and was chatting with Carson Wentz in the locker room afterward. I had a chance to talk to McNabb and asked him what’s the best advice he could give Wentz about handling the early success he’s having in his career, similar to what McNabb went through early on in his career. McNabb said, “Don’t get caught up in the hype, stay even keeled." A later question I posed to McNabb was about where this 4-1 Eagles team stacks up against others in the NFC. "They’re as good as anybody in the conference and when they get a few players back from injuries this is a team that could go a long ways," McNabb said.