There’s ageless Larry Fitzgerald making a ridiculous one-handed catch on a 4th-and-5 against the Bucs. There’s Golden Tate taking a short pass from Daniel Jones and running 61 yards through traffic for a touchdown against the Jets. There’s Amari Cooper in the third quarter against the Vikings catching a pass five yards out of bounds while somehow dragging his feet in bounds … then doing it again in the end zone a few minutes later.
It was impossible to watch football Sunday without watching incredible catch after incredible catch and wondering what it would be like if just one of those guys was an Eagle.
Eagles wideouts can’t make the routine catches. Other teams have guys who make impossible ones.
Watching other teams play football during the bye week really reinforced what we already knew: The Eagles’ wideouts are the worst in the league.
They don’t make plays.
And it really makes you appreciate what Carson Wentz has been able to do despite being hamstrung by this horribly underachieving group.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Donovan McNabb had — by far — his best NFL year in his one full season with T.O.
Wentz had one game with DeSean Jackson and chucked two 50-yard TDs, completed 72 percent of his passes and passed for 313 yards.
For Wentz to be playing at the level he is — 15 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 63 percent completion percentage — is remarkable considering that since Week 2, the Eagles have been trotting out a group of wide receivers that includes a one-time Pro Bowler who suddenly looks old and slow and is struggling terribly to catch the most routine passes, a $9.4 million former first-round pick who keeps whiffing on deep balls and has been a non-factor for two months, a third wideout who hasn’t had a catch since September and a second-round pick who hasn’t had a catch since earlier in September.
Imagine trying to play quarterback in the NFL without wide receivers?
Imagine what Wentz’s numbers would look like if Nelly had caught a couple of those easy deep balls, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside brought in that potential game-winner against the Lions and Alshon Jeffery had just caught half the balls he's dropped?
The Eagles would likely be 7-2 and he’d have Pro Bowl numbers.
Now just imagine if he had Amari Cooper or Larry Fitz or even Tate. Or any legit NFL receiver. Or a couple of them.
He has none of them.
Wentz has made the passing game work to some extent with a Pro Bowl tight end, a rapidly improving rookie running back and a capable second tight end as his main weapons.
But the most impressive thing he’s done is play within himself, not get frustrated — at least not outwardly — and stay positive throughout this nightmarish stretch by his wide receivers.
That’s leadership, and anybody who’s watched the Eagles play football this year knows that Wentz is doing absolutely the best he can with what he has.
You never see him shaking his head or slamming his helmet down on the sideline after a bad drop. You never see him barking at one of his receivers after another hapless third down when nobody's open. You never see him lose his cool when a perfect deep ball flies through someone's hands.
The Eagles are 5-4 coming out of the bye week with a wide receiver crew that, since Jackson went down with what turned out to be a season-ending injury, has averaged — as a group — 89 yards per game. Over the last six weeks, that number is down to 72.
That’s all of them combined.
Eagles wide receivers don’t have a touchdown catch longer than six yards over the last six games. They don't have any catches of 40 yards since Week 2.
Through it all, Wentz remains efficient, positive and confident.
People always joke about how bad James Thrash and Todd Pinkston were. Thrash averaged 55 catches, 675 yards and 5 TDs in three seasons as an Eagle. Pinkston from 2001 through 2004 had 19 catches of at least 40 yards — third-most in the NFL behind T.O. and Randy Moss.
Wentz is essentially out there playing with a wide receiving crew that’s significantly worse than Thrash and Pinkston, and he has the Eagles in a virtual tie for first place in the NFC, and that tells you everything you need to know about the season Carson Wentz is having.
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