Antonio Brown

Carson Wentz takes No. 3 spot in NFL Network's top 100

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Carson Wentz takes No. 3 spot in NFL Network's top 100

Carson Wentz was putting together an incredible MVP-type season before he tore his ACL and LCL in December. 

And the rest of the NFL took notice, putting him in the most elite category in the league. 

The Eagles’ franchise quarterback has been voted by his peers as the No. 3 player in the NFL in 2018 on the NFL Network Top 100 list. 

He absolutely deserves to be that high. 

Wentz was ranked behind just Tom Brady (1) and Antonio Brown (2). Brady is first for the second straight season and hasn’t been below fourth on the list since it began in 2011. As long as Wentz returns to form after injury, that type of sustained success is in his future too. 

Here's the full list of the top 10.

1. Tom Brady
2. Antonio Brown
3. Carson Wentz
4. Julio Jones
5. Le'Veon Bell
6. Todd Gurley
7. Aaron Donald
8. Drew Brees
9. Von Miller
10. Aaron Rodgers

Wentz, 25, is the only player in the top 10 who had never previously been on the top 100 list. So he went from triple digits to No. 3 in his second NFL season. Pretty impressive. 

But really, Wentz’s ranking shouldn’t be all that surprising. Wentz was incredible before going down. You saw it. What he did on the field this season was magical. 

In 13 games, he helped lead the Eagles to an 11-2 record, and completed 60 percent of his passes for over 3,200 yards and a franchise-record 33 touchdown passes. Just Russell Wilson (34 touchdowns) finished the season with more, and he needed three extra games to get there. 

While Nick Foles finished the season and was incredible in the postseason, eventually winning the Super Bowl MVP, Wentz was tremendous before that. There’s a reason, the Eagles included Wentz in the playoff run and have made it clear he’s their franchise cornerstone. 

Wentz was named to his first Pro Bowl team this season, but was beaten out by Brady for the nod as an All-Pro. Wentz was named to the All-Pro second team. 

Wentz is the fifth and final member of the Super Bowl Eagles to make the list. And he’s the first in a while. It seems that for a championship team, the Eagles are light on representation. 

3. Carson Wentz
68. Zach Ertz
69. Fletcher Cox 
95. Lane Johnson 
96. Malcolm Jenkins

More on the Eagles

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•​ Foles is a legend, but Eagles still need Wentz

•​ Will Derek Barnett really compete to start in 2018?

Give Torrey Smith an MVP vote

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Give Torrey Smith an MVP vote

Torrey Smith doesn't get an MVP vote, but if he did, we know where it would go. 

He thinks the honor belongs to Carson Wentz. 

In the Eagles' locker room on Thursday, Smith volunteered his opinion that Wentz should be the 2017 NFL MVP, despite Wentz's missing the final three games of the season after with a torn ACL. 

"Absolutely," Smith said. "And I'm biased too. I'll tell you that, I am biased. I think he still should be, even with the missed games. I mean, what he meant to this team, what he was actually able to do and he missed two games. 

"It's pretty crazy. Because he probably wouldn't have played the last game if he was there. He missed two games. Still was right up at the top of everything else. I think it says a lot about him."

Smith actually brings up a good point. Had Wentz not been injured, he very likely wouldn't have played in the regular-season finale anyway, which means his ACL injury forced him to miss only two games in the regular season instead of three. 

Wentz finished his season with 3,296 passing yards and 33 touchdown passes. Only Russell Wilson threw more touchdown passes (34) and it took him all 16 games. Wentz is just 19th in passing yards but fourth in passer rating (101.9) behind just Alex Smith (104.7), Drew Brees (103.9) and Tom Brady (102.8). 

It seems like Wentz's biggest competition for the MVP might be two-time winner Brady, who had another stellar season. 

So why would Smith take Wentz over Brady? 

"Tom Brady's the G.O.A.T. though. He is the G.O.A.T.," Smith said. "But Carson was able to make plays athletically that Tom can't physically do, even though he's the greatest quarterback ever. Carson plays the game differently and what he's meant to us on third down, when he's scrambling, the crazy plays he's made. It's not like he's Vick or anything, but the way he makes those plays, it was huge for us. 

"At times we were struggling and those plays turn into opening the gates. He's made some amazing plays all year. I don't know, put their highlight tapes together and see what you think."

The Eagles haven't had an MVP since Norm Van Brocklin won it back in 1960, so it's been a pretty long wait. 

This year's MVP award will be announced Feb. 3, the day before the Super Bowl. 

Unfortunately, although Smith thinks Wentz deserves the award, he doesn't think he's going to get it. 

"No. Because he missed a couple games," Smith said, "but I think he's the MVP."

The case for and against Carson Wentz still winning MVP

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The case for and against Carson Wentz still winning MVP

The case for Carson Wentz still winning MVP (Corey Seidman)

Prior to Monday Night Football, Bovada listed Tom Brady as the MVP favorite and Carson Wentz was no longer listed. Had the Patriots blown out the Dolphins as many expected, Brady would have surged into the MVP lead.

But he didn't. The Patriots' offense couldn't get anything going, failing to convert a single third down for the first time since 1991.

And even though Brady will probably play three more games this season than Carson Wentz, I still think Wentz can and will win MVP.

There are a bunch of reasons why.

1. Wentz led his team to an 11-2 record and put it in position to clinch the top seed in the conference, and the Eagles don't even have to be perfect the rest of the way to do it.

2. The key play that could end up enabling the Eagles to get home-field advantage through the playoffs was that gutsy touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery. Which Wentz delivered with a torn ACL. And which set the Eagles' franchise record for TD passes in a season. 

That kind of mystique matters come awards time.

3. Brady was a legitimate contender for the MVP award last season when he played just 12 games because of the four-game suspension. He finished second in MVP voting with 10 votes, behind Matt Ryan's 25.

4. Aside from Wentz and Brady, who are even the top candidates for MVP this season? Russell Wilson? His team isn't even currently in the playoffs. Antonio Brown? A wide receiver has never won MVP, even though Brown is deserving of breaking that trend. If Brown goes off against the Patriots on Sunday, it might make him the frontrunner. 

Standing in his way, however, is the tremendous success of his own teammate, Le'Veon Bell. Bell and Brown each have nine total touchdowns, and Bell has 1,684 yards from scrimmage compared to Brown's 1,518. How would you justify giving it to Brown over his equally deserving teammate?

If one of Brady, Bell or Brown has an enormous game Sunday, they could catapult to the top of the list. But if they have just an average game, Wentz will remain toward the top.

5. Voter fatigue is real with Brady, and this isn't even shaping up to be one of his best seasons. His 105.2 passer rating is just the fifth-highest of his career. His 27-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio is just the fifth-best of his career. His yards per attempt are fourth-best.

• • •

The case against Carson Wentz still winning MVP (Dave Zangaro)

The Eagles haven't had an MVP since the 1960 season, when Norm Van Brocklin took the honor. 

They'll have to wait at least one more season. 

Because when Wentz went down on Sunday night, his MVP chances went too. 

Sure, the Eagles' quarterback had a really good first 13 games. His team went 11-2. He threw for 3,296 yards, with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Those are really good numbers. 

But he just didn't play enough. 

The last time an NFL MVP played just 13 or fewer games was 1989, when Joe Montana won his first of two straight. Since then, of the 29 MVPs all 29 have played at least 14 games and 23 of them have played all 16. 

Sure, Brady finished second in MVP voting last season after playing just 12 games. But he didn't win it. And that was after 12 games in which he threw for over 3,500 yards, with 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His passer rating in those 12 games was 112.2. Wentz's this season was 101.9. 

What's even more notable was that Brady's 12 games in 2016 came in the last 12 games of the season after missing the first four because of suspension. When voting happened, Brady was still on the forefront of everyone's mind, leading his team into the playoffs. Wentz won't be forgotten, but recency has even more pull than mystique in voting. 

And then there are the candidates this year. Brady is the clear frontrunner. He's having another tremendous season. No, he didn't perform well on Monday night, but do you really expect him to not play well down the stretch? 

And the crazy thing about Brady is he's widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time, but has just two MVP awards. To put that in perspective, Peyton Manning has five, while Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre each have three. Brady is tied with Steve Young, Kurt Warner, Joe Montana and Aaron Rodgers with two. 

So in some cases, voter fatigue might be a real thing, but in this case, it would make sense to see Brady get another one. 

Really, the way Wentz's worth to the Eagles would easily be proven is if the Eagles completely collapse down the stretch with Nick Foles. But with games against the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys, that seems unlikely. The Eagles win, Wentz loses. 

But there's always next year ... and the year after that.