Eagles

Carson Wentz won't be elite until he learns to play a complete game

Carson Wentz won't be elite until he learns to play a complete game

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.

Again.

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? 

Nobody knows.

“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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Eagles to host New Jersey high school football game suspended after shooting

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Eagles to host New Jersey high school football game suspended after shooting

The Eagles on Wednesday at Lincoln Financial Field will host the rest of a New Jersey high school playoff football game that was suspended because of a shooting. 

The game between Pleasantville High School and Camden High School was stopped on Friday night after a shooting in the crowd in Pleasantville that left three wounded, including a 10-year-old boy and a 15-year-old student

According to NBC 10, a suspect has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and two weapons counts, while three other men have been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. 

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) announced on Monday afternoon that the Eagles offered up their stadium to finish the approximately 17 remaining minutes of the playoff game. The NJSIAA had been looking for a neutral site. 

Larry White, the executive director of the NJSIAA, said the following in a statement released Monday: 

“It’s extremely unfortunate that a senselessly violent act has impacted this game, and there will certainly be a wide range of emotions along both sidelines. However, thanks to the Eagles’ generosity and community spirit, Pleasantville and Camden student-athletes and their families will have an opportunity to write their own ending to this game. They’ll compete on a world-class stage, sending a clear message that violence will not win.”

The Eagles are expected to release a statement and more information about the game on Tuesday. 

The NJSIAA took up the Eagles on their offer but thanked other schools for their assistance. The Black Horse Pike School District also offered to host the game. 

The game will resume at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. While the Linc will be closed to the public, each school will be given free passes for players’ parents and family members. The game will also be streamed live on NJ.com. 

The shooting on Friday night occurred in the third quarter with Camden leading 6-0. The winner of this game will face Cedar Creek on Saturday, Nov. 30 for the Central Group 2 Sectional Championship. 

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The interesting wrinkle in Jay Ajayi's contract

The interesting wrinkle in Jay Ajayi's contract

The Eagles on Friday signed running back Jay Ajayi for the rest of the 2019 season, but based on what’s written into the contract, the Eagles will basically have the option to bring him back in 2020. 

Here’s the report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport: 

So basically, Ajayi will kind of be a restricted free agent at the lowest (right of first refusal) level. That means the Eagles have the option to match a contract and keep the player, but won’t get compensation back if he goes elsewhere like a higher-level tendered player. The Eagles will still be eligible for a compensatory pick if Ajayi signs elsewhere and they don't match the offer. 

This is an interesting wrinkle to Ajayi’s contract, especially in the entire scope of the Eagles’ running back situation. 

Because, remember, Jordan Howard is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. As long as he’s able to return from this stinger soon, he would be a realistic candidate to get an extension before the end of the season. But, to me, this part of Ajayi’s contract is sort of like an insurance policy if the Eagles aren’t able to re-sign Howard during free agency. Or if they choose to move on from Howard. 

The Eagles seem to like having a running back rotation and the only running back guaranteed to return in 2020 is Miles Sanders. Either Howard or a healthy Ajayi (we’ll see) would seemingly be a good complement. 

I say we’ll see because Ajayi hasn’t played football in over a year. He signed on Friday, but Doug Pederson opted to not play him two days later. During his career, Ajayi has been a very productive runner, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. 

But Ajayi, 26, tore his ACL last season and already had long-standing knee issues, so there’s some serious doubt about his football future. Ajayi will have a chance to answer some of those questions in the final six games of the 2019 season. 

“We will incorporate him,” Pederson said on Monday. “Again, if Jordan (Howard) … if he doesn't practice or whatever during the week then we definitely will get Jay ready to go.”

The Eagles at least took out an insurance policy of sorts. If Ajayi does have something left, they’ll have the option of bringing him back in 2020 no matter what other team is interested in him.

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