Coming off a serious knee injury and subsequent ACL and LCL surgery, I had some real concerns about the type of player Carson Wentz would be upon his return.
Would he be as mobile?
Would he be able to buy time in the pocket?
Would he be able to make the signature plays we all grew accustomed to during his near-MVP season in 2017?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
If there were any questions about that heading into Thursday’s game against the Giants, Wentz answered them in the 34-13 win. Without showing a hint of inability or hesitation from the knee surgery, Wentz made a couple plays that only a handful of quarterbacks in the world can make.
“That’s why he is who he is,” Nelson Agholor said. “And as a wide receiver, you really embrace that. You keep working. Think about it. The touchdown to Alshon, that was on a scramble drill. He does that. And we just try to play heads-up football and we try to give him a window to target us.”
Let’s take a look at the two plays that stood out the most to me Thursday.
This is the first touchdown pass. It comes on third down and Wentz steps up in the pocket, but then feels pressure, retreats and busts it to his right. This play is incredible, because not only does he buy time, he then makes a throw across his body that travels around 28 yards into Alshon Jeffery’s arms. Doug Pederson called that an “oh no” throw, but Wentz is so unique. Wentz makes that throw. Aaron Rodgers makes that throw. Maybe Pat Mahomes makes that throw. That might be it.
But aside from the ridiculous arm strength it took to complete that pass, his ability to buy time is one of the most important aspects of his game.
Just check him out on this deep ball to Agholor.
Look how smooth he looks rolling to his right, stopping on a dime, planting and delivering the ball deep downfield. Sure, a deeper pass in stride and this is a touchdown, but it would have been impossible for him to pull up with his momentum still going to the sideline and throw a more perfect ball.
“I had one route and I knew he was going to set up and just chuck it,” Agholor said. “That’s what he does. I was happy he did.”
During the first few games back, Wentz was criticized for holding the ball a little too long. Some of that was probably deserved, but even Wentz has admitted it’s a fine line. We can’t expect him to deliver the ball in a split second like Eli Manning. That’s not his game. And why would you want him to? That would take away one of the main things that make Wentz a great quarterback.
I had my doubts about whether Carson would be the old Carson right away, that he’d be just as mobile. When I asked Doug Pederson on Friday if he ever had doubts, he flatly said, “No.”
“Just watching him rehab, watching him work, watching him out on the field and his determination to get back on the football field,” Pederson said. “There's a lot of strength in his lower body. Noticed it obviously — you kind of noticed the lower body through the upper body by the way he's throwing the football, and so I felt like his lower body strength was solid.”
Turns out, Pederson was right. And Wentz is back to being Wentz. That’s good news for the Eagles.