We’ve spent the last few weeks analyzing everybody on the Eagles’ roster. We’ve broken down every imaginable practice squad configuration. We’ve agonized over Cre’Von LeBlanc’s 18 hours of free agency, examined the relative merits of every available veteran on the street and pondered the age-old question of whether Jack Driscoll is better suited to guard or tackle.
And, yes, we've stared at the waiver wire till our eyes were red just to see whether Noah Togiai would clear.
We’ve broken down everything.
And none of it matters.
Because ultimately, the 2020 Eagles are going to go as far as Carson Wentz takes them.
Wentz’s career thus far can best be described as agonizingly incomplete.
He’s 27, he’s going to be 28 before the regular season is over, he’s going into his fifth season and for all the stats and touchdowns and accolades he really hasn’t accomplished anything yet.
He played at a remarkable level for those 13 games in 2017 … before he got hurt. He was pretty good but not quite special in 2018 … before he got hurt. He had some incredible games along the way and a tremendous finish last year … before he got hurt.
I’m a huge Wentz fan, and there have been enough sustained periods of brilliance to convince anybody that there really is a superstar lurking in there somewhere.
But to truly be a superstar you have to do it week after week, year after year, and Wentz isn’t there yet.
You can’t ignore the fact that since the nine-game winning streak in 2017, Wentz is 15-15.
You can’t ignore the fact that at this point in his career Donovan McNabb had already played in two NFC Championship Games and Wentz hasn't gotten out of the first quarter of a playoff game.
You can’t ignore the fact that kids like Pat Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson have already built superior resumes than Wentz.
Then again … you try throwing to Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery, Golden Tate, Jordan Matthews and Mack Hollins and see how you like it.
So that’s the back-and-forth I always find myself on with Wentz.
Who exactly is he?
By Year 5 you’d like to have an answer, but the reality is we don’t. To a great extent by no fault of his own.
He’s immensely talented, he’s unconditionally committed, he’s occasionally brilliant.
But we’ve yet to see him do it for 16 games and a postseason.
And until we get that sort of consistently great Wentz, we’re not going to get a consistently great Eagles team.
Nick Foles was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. That’s not going to happen again.
When you see someone showing flashes of astonishing play, you always expect to see it consistently.
Maybe this year. Maybe now.
The Eagles have certainly provided Wentz with better weapons than he’s ever had.
If DeSean Jackson can stay healthy? If Miles Sanders can put together a full season like he did the second half of last season? If Jalen Reagor can be that electrifying receiver the Eagles have been searching for the last decade? If Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert continue doing their thing?
With the offensive line back intact and a defense that should be very good?
No excuses anymore.
It’s time for Wentz to be great.
Not just for four games here or nine games there. But for 16 games and a postseason.
Look at this:
When Wentz has had a passer rating over 83, the Eagles are 30-12.
When he’s had a passer rating of 83 or lower, the Eagles are 2-13.
When he’s good, they win. When he’s not so good, they lose.
We’ve seen what’s possible. We’ve seen what he’s capable of. We’ve seen some truly dazzling play at times and we’ve seen him carry this team at times.
If we see it a little bit more consistently — and without a late-season injury — this very weird season just could become a very special season.