It's OK for Carson Wentz to Have a ‘down Season'

The Eagles are a disaster right now, but the one guy I'm not concerned about - not even a little bit - is Carson Wentz.

There's no question Wentz has been a disappointment in 2018. He's coming off the worst game of his career, a three-interception, zero-touchdown, 48-7 beatdown in New Orleans. He's a tick slow going through his progressions and taking way too many sacks. He's been inefficient in the red zone, where the Eagles rank 21st in the NFL, and he hasn't prevailed when the game is on the line. He's committed 11 turnovers in eight games this season.

And you know what? That's OK. Quarterback development isn't always linear, and there are plenty of explanations for why Wentz has taken a step back rather than elevated his game in his third season in the league.

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Most obvious are the nine months Wentz spent rehabbing from a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee. The injury cost him the end of his MVP-caliber 2017 campaign, OTAs, preseason, the first two games of the '18 season and limited his work in training camp. Is it any wonder the 25-year-old's growth in the offense is stunted?

The changes to the coaching staff haven't helped. It's still Doug Pederson's offense, but Wentz is working more closely with new offensive coordinator Mike Groh and quarterbacks coach Press Taylor after two years with Frank Reich and John DeFilippo.

Whether because of injuries or regression or both, the supporting cast on the field hasn't been nearly as good injury. Wentz is getting little support from a running game that ranks 25th in the NFL, compared to third a season ago. Nor has the 2017 Offensive Line of the Year kept the quarterback clean - his 26 sacks through eight games are only two off his total in 13 appearances last season. The problems with the offense extend well beyond the person under center.

Not all criticisms are entirely fair, either. Some observers point to Wentz's seemingly low number of game-winning comebacks, with just three in three seasons. Though it's true he hasn't been clutch this season for whatever reason, he wasn't really tested in fourth quarter situations during his MVP-caliber season a year ago while leading the Eagles to an 11-2 record in starts. Remember?

Wentz's decline is probably a tad overblown in general. His 69.5 completion percentage, 288.0 yards per game and 7.6 yards per pass attempt would be career highs, while his 2.0 interception percentage and 100.1 passer rating are only slight steps back, and well above his rookie rates. The velocity and accuracy of his throws look better than ever, he still flashes escapability and mobility and there's no sign his injury will recur.

In many ways, this season has been a success for Wentz given what he's come back from, no matter the numbers or the Eagles' record.

There's almost zero reason to believe a player with Wentz's track record, work ethic and natural athleticism won't improve with another year of NFL experience, the benefit of a full offseason program and, hopefully, better talent around him.

No matter how the rest of the season plays out, the Eagles have a lot of work to do this coming offseason. But at least they're all set at franchise quarterback.

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