This isn't the way Carson Wentz and the Eagles envisioned the start of the 2020 season. Not in a hail of giveaways and missed opportunities. Not with an 0-2 record after a 37-19 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in front of a crowd of cardboard fan cutouts and piped-in noise at Lincoln Financial Field. Instead of building on the promise of a 4-0 finish to the 2019 regular season, the offense has started slowly and Wentz has five giveaways, including four interceptions.
None was bigger than the one he threw midway through the third quarter on Sunday on a first-down pass from the Los Angeles 21-yard line. Wentz tried to thread a pass to wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside running a post route from the right side of the formation to the middle of the field, but cornerback Darious Williams undercut the route and made the interception in the end zone. The Eagles trailed 21-16 at the time and were driving to take a lead after digging out of a 21-3 hole.
The interception was a killer.
"They made a great play," Wentz said. "I got out on the naked (bootleg) to the left, they had us covered pretty well. I got pretty aggressive, tried to force one in there. Guy made a great play. I've got to be smart in that situation and, overall, offensively, we know we're right there. At the end of the day, we had two interceptions and the fumble. Turning the ball over is really killing us the last two weeks. Those are things we know we can clean up. Other than that, we truly feel that we're right there. We're missing some things, timing of some things.
"We're not panicking. We know what we've got to clean up, and we will."
The turnovers are the strangest part coming from Wentz, who had an 81-21 touchdown/interception ratio from 2017-19. He has had his challenges with ball security in the pocket in recent seasons, but he had thrown seven, seven interceptions in each of the last three years.
He already has four in two games, all coming on first down.
"It's case by case," Wentz said. "Today, like I said, I tried to force one in there, make a play when I probably didn't need to … the timing of our mistakes is really killing us right now, but we know once we get things cleaned up that we have the potential with the pieces that we have on offense to be great, to be elite on offense. We're excited to get those things fixed and to show that we are elite."
Wentz said the team is "frustrated," but the sense is that there is a long season ahead and the Eagles are going to dig deeper to find consistency and score big points. On Sunday against the Rams' soft zone coverage, Wentz completed 26 of 43 passes for 242 yards and the two interceptions. It's the first time since the November 18, 2018 loss in New Orleans (48-7) that Wentz had not thrown at least one touchdown pass.
Cincinnati is up next, on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
"We've got to execute, plain and simple," Wentz said. "We've got to execute. We executed some things very well today. I thought we had some good movement up front running the ball (the Eagles ran for 121 yards on 26 carries) and our turbo-type stuff, our up-tempo offense did some good things, just not enough. Not enough. We've gotta protect the football. I've said it a couple of times: We're not panicking, the sky is not falling, there are some good things that we're doing, and we'll get back on it."