We're four games into the new beginning of Carson Wentz, Franchise Quarterback, and it's safe to say that the production is impressive. Wentz has thrown eight touchdown passes and only one interception. He's completed 68.4 percent of his passes, by far the highest number in his career. The timing is there, the football IQ has only grown greater, and the mobility has been as good as ever.
Wentz is back in full flight, and if anyone needed convincing his first touchdown pass in Thursday night's win over the New York Giants was the ticket. On a third-and-7 play from the New York 13-yard line, Wentz escaped the pocket and rolled right and as he approached the sideline Wentz threw back across his body into the middle of the back of the end zone, completing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
It was amazing.
"It was a throw that guys like John Elway and Brett Favre used to make," former Eagles linebacker and SportsRadio 94WIP host Ike Reese said. "He's not a typical quarterback, so he has abilities that most quarterbacks don't have and we have to appreciate that. That throw was made from his sheer athleticism. It wasn't something that coaches use as a teaching lesson because quarterbacks aren't supposed to throw the ball like that, in that situation. But Carson threw the ball with as much velocity as you can have. It was a tremendous play and an example of what he is capable of doing."
What's remarkable about the play is that Wentz did everything against the grain there. Quarterbacks aren't supposed to throw the ball across their bodies into the middle of the field into the teeth of a defense. It's a formula for an interception. The coaching staff didn't exactly celebrate the decision to make the throw, but they sure loved the result.
"Unreal," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. "Just one of those throws that from a coach's perspective you just say, 'Wow.' One of those kinds of plays."
In Wentz's case, it was the formula for a spectacular play.
"It was hard to watch, honestly," quarterback Press Taylor said. "I thought he threw it right into the hands of (Giants linebacker) Alec Ogletree. But Carson had that innate ability to throw it just over the top, with the right amount of touch, lead Alshon across the field. It's just a play that you're not gonna coach, you can't take any credit for it. That's just a guy making a play. You hope that every time he makes that decision he makes that play and it's that kind of outcome with it. There's a lot of bad things that can happen with it.
"That's just a guy making a special play."
Wentz is a special player and we all know that. It seems as if the national media has relegated Wentz to the back burner a bit in favor of the new "young guns" including Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, Los Angeles Rams' Jared Goff, New York Jets' Sam Darnold, and even Cleveland's Baker Mayfield, and there is no doubt the "old guard" that includes New England's Tom Brady, New Orleans' Drew Brees, and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers garners a lot of attention. All of that is understandable and deserved.
Just don't sleep on Wentz.
"I think he's done a good job. He continues to get better every single week," Taylor said. "I haven't seen a lot of quarterbacks come off an injury like he had and play the way he's played. I think it speaks to his work ethic and his level of preparedness. He attacked the rehab process and has really immersed himself in the offense, understanding the offense more and more. Even when he wasn't on the field as much in Training Camp and throughout the preseason, he was in every single meeting and continually challenging himself and challenging us and asking, 'Why?' and wondering why we were doing things. I think that's paying off for him. You see the maturity and the mastery of the offense, I think."
Wentz's numbers compare favorably to those compiled by quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer (twice), Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford, and Deshaun Watson the year after they had ACL surgery. Through four games, Wentz has more touchdown passes than all but Palmer (he had 10 in 2015, his second season-after ACL surgery experience) and only McNabb in 2007 had as few as one interception. RG III had just 10 more passing yards than Wentz's 1,192 through four games.
All in all, Wentz is off to a successful season-after-injury start. But there is still so much football ahead and Taylor, for one, wants to see sustained improvement.
"The goal is for Carson and for our offense as a whole to get better and better and build," Taylor said. "Last week, yeah, the offense was much better. We took advantage of our opportunities and that was good to see. It's not all there yet. It's still a work in progress for every part of the offense, including Carson."
The reminders of greatness are there for all to see, however. And that throw, the one that coaches tell quarterbacks never to make, was an example of how much has gone right for Wentz since he returned to the lineup. Wentz dived for a first down in his 2018 debut against Indianapolis and everyone was amazed. He made some picture-perfect throws in the loss at Tennessee. Against Minnesota, Wentz escaped the pocket on a few occasions as if the injury had never happened.
And then against the Giants, Wentz threw three touchdown passes and helped the Eagles get up early and stomp New York late. It was vintage Wentz and not a moment too soon to point the offense in the right direction.