ARLINGTON, Texas — He’s terrible. Then he’s great. And it keeps happening.
Over and over and over and over and over.
The Eagles are the worst first-quarter team in football, and Carson Wentz is one of the worst first-quarter quarterbacks in football, and it would be foolish to think there wasn’t a huge connection.
He keeps getting off to terrible starts, then regrouping once the Eagles fall behind, finding his way, putting up big numbers late and most of the time, it’s too little, too late.
Sunday at AT&T Stadium, in one of the biggest games of Wentz's career, it was too little, too late.
Wentz threw for 48 yards in the first half with a fumble, then threw for 180 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half.
His final numbers look great. But you can’t win like that. And even though Wentz led touchdown drives on the Eagles' last two possessions, the Cowboys won 29-23 in overtime.
Too little, too late. Again.
And Wentz’s slow starts are one of the big reasons the Eagles find themselves 6-7 and all but mathematically eliminated.
Take a look at Wentz this year:
• First quarter: 46 for 74 (62 percent) for 481 yards with three TDs and three INTs and a 72.6 passer rating. Only Sam Darnold has a lower passer rating than Wentz this year in the first quarter.
• Second through fourth quarters: 232 for 324 (72 percent) for 2,577 yards with 18 touchdowns and four interceptions and a 108.3 passer rating.
Two different people.
“It’s frustrating,” Wentz said. “It’s absolutely frustrating. We just couldn’t execute (early), couldn’t sustain drives. … We obviously couldn’t get in a rhythm and started slow. It seems to be a common theme for us and it’s something we have to look hard at. It’s tough. It’s frustrating for sure.”
It keeps happening. And they have no answers. None of them.
The Eagles have been outscored 54-28 in the first quarter this year and 140-112 in the first half.
They’ve outscored their opponents 166-143 in the second half.
Sunday was typical. The Eagles didn’t score a point on their first six drives and averaged just 15 yards per possession as they fell behind 9-0.
Then they magically started rolling and scored 23 points on their last five drives.
You can’t win like this.
How can Wentz look so bad early and so good late? Virtually every game?
“Well, I think some of it, give credit to Dallas,” Doug Pederson said. “This is a good defense. We knew that going in. Some of it is their design, very disruptive up front.
“And then it just comes down to attention to detail, focus. Things that have kind of hampered us a little bit all season showed up a little bit early in this game and it was tough to get things going early.”
If Wentz could play in the first quarter the way he’s played after the first quarter he’d be back in the MVP race.
But he just keeps making the same mistakes early.
Missing open receivers. Making incorrect reads. Holding the ball too long. Showing a lack of situational awareness in the pocket.
And it keeps putting the Eagles in a hole.
A hole that against decent teams they can’t dig out of.
This is on Pederson as much as Wentz. It’s his team. His offense. His play calls. He’s got to be better. He’s got an elite quarterback, and he’s had three months to find ways to get him off to faster starts, and he’s flopped.
But ultimately, it’s on Wentz to raise his level of play from the jump. To get the Eagles started the right way.
You can’t be elite unless you’re elite for 60 minutes.
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