I’ve learned a lot about Carson Wentz the last few weeks.
I learned that things aren’t going to always go well for him. I learned that if you give him a receiver who can go up and make a play for the football he’s going to look a lot better. And I learned that no matter how bad things go for him, he’s always going to keep fighting.
Throw an interception? Keep your head up and stay positive.
Get sacked 19 times in five games, second-most in football? Keep popping up like you didn’t feel a thing.
Have critical passes dropped, a Pro Bowler struggling and no experienced wide receivers to throw to? Keep battling like everything’s fine. Keep encouraging your teammates. Keep your head up walking to the sideline after another 3-and-out.
The tired old adage about how we learn more about somebody through adversity than when things are going really is true here.
Wentz has shown me something the last few weeks.
I’m not going to sit here and say he’s played well. He hasn’t. Although he’s starting to for stretches.
But I do see a guy who’s not going to stop fighting, no matter how bad things are going, and isn’t going to point fingers or blame anybody else or complain about the circumstances.
And that’s a guy his teammates will fight for.
He’s got one offensive lineman left. He’s got none of his projected top three receivers or a big-time tight end. The other tight end is having a miserable season. And the coach has helped him out with his play calling as much as he could have.
And still, no excuses, no complaining, no hesitation trying to lift this team out of its doldrums.
The odds have been stacked against Wentz all year, and I think the worst thing he did early on was try to make up for all this team's deficiencies and injuries by trying to do everything himself. He forced passes, tried to make big plays … it was that Superman Syndrome we talk about. And honestly, it’s understandable, considering what was happening around him.
Somewhere in the second half of the Bengals game Wentz started to settle down a little and let the game come to him.
He drove the Eagles 75 yards in the final minutes, willing himself into the end zone for the game-tying TD with 30 seconds left and really did all he could to drive the Eagles for a game-winner in overtime.
Then after another ugly start in San Francisco he rallied the Eagles past the heavily favored 49ers.
And then Sunday in Pittsburgh, he put up 29 points against the NFL’s No. 4 scoring defense in a stadium where they’d allowed 29 points three times in 20 years.
Is he playing consistently? Nah. Is he playing smart? Not all the time. Is he playing flawlessly? Not even close.
But I dare you to find one snap this year, with all the adversity he’s faced - some self-inflicted, some not - where he’s wavered. One snap where he hasn’t encouraged his teammates. One snap where he hasn’t displayed tremendous resilience and toughness.
That shows me a lot.
There are moments when Wentz looks like the Carson of old. The guy who threw 81 touchdowns and 21 interceptions over the last three years. And there were more of those moments Sunday in Pittsburgh than we’ve seen yet.
The question isn’t whether Wentz can still make those remarkable throws and still make those dazzling plays with his legs. We see it. The things that made him a special player the last few years we see them at times. We see flashes and then mistakes.
So the problem isn’t that he can’t play anymore. It’s that he hasn’t played consistently.
But the one thing that has been constant has been the effort. Despite the injuries, the uneven pass protection, the drops, the lack of talent and experience around him.
Wentz was out there Sunday with SIX offensive starters who had started four or fewer games in their career.
And you saw a guy do all he could to raise the level of everyone around him. A guy whose toughness and resilience and determination can't be questioned.
I was worried about Wentz a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure he could snap out of it. I wasn’t sure what exactly was going on.
But when I see a guy this committed, this driven, this unfailingly positive?
I’m not worried anymore.