September 14, 2022 3 min read
The NFC East made a statement in week one. Along with the AFC North, they were the only two divisions with three of the four teams picking up a week one win. While the Eagles beating Detroit didn’t surprise many people, Saquon Barkley carried the load in the Giants upset win over Tennessee, 21-20. Barkley will need to keep this up to make up for some of the same issues the Giants were plagued with last year.
Washington was another surprise, beating the Jaguars 28-22. Commanders fans are hoping for new QB Carson Wentz to have a big comeback year. He started it off on the right foot. Wentz threw four touchdowns in week one, but can he keep it up? History says no. He’s thrown three-plus touchdowns in back-to-back games twice in his career, and not since 2019, according to BleedingGreenNation.com. Let’s face it, you don’t bounce around with three teams in as many seasons because you’re a star. But maybe, just maybe, this is the year he proves the naysayers wrong.
Let’s look more closely at Wentz and what to expect, starting with what we’ve seen before. Wentz was the number two overall pick by the Eagles in the 2016 draft. The city was excited to have him and he was excited to be there. He saw success in Philly. He has the Super Bowl ring to prove it. While he didn’t play in the actual Super Bowl, he played a big part in getting the Eagles there in the first place.
Wentz tore his ACL in week 14 of the 2017 season. At the time Wentz was considered one of the NFL’s “brightest young stars.” He had thrown for a league-leading and franchise-record 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. When Wentz went down, NFL.com said of backup QB Nick Foles, “Foles is an experienced signal-caller -- 20-16 as an NFL starter -- and surrounded by a top-shelf roster, but the Eagles simply aren't the same team without their irreplaceable leader.” Turns out the Birds were just fine with Foles calling the signals. The Eagles went on to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, Wentz’s star has not since shined as bright as it did that year. His career came to an end in Philly when he was benched in week 13 of the 2020 season and never played another down for the Eagles. They traded him in the offseason to the Indianapolis Colts. This looked like a great spot for Wentz to land. The move reunited him with his former Offensive Coordinator and now-Colts head coach, Frank Reich. When Wentz got to Indy, he reflected on the challenges he faced in Philly with ESPN.com. “It's not fun when things were going well for years and all those things. ... As a man, you have to look yourself in the mirror and learn from it and become a better man, better player. It wasn't fun, it was difficult, but I did everything I could to be supportive of Jalen [Hurts] and my teammates."
One year after the trade, CBSSports.com declared the Eagles “clear winners of the Carson Wentz trade.” The Colts not only lost a first-round draft pick in the deal, they moved on from Wentz after just one season. Wentz had a bounce-back year, by all accounts, but fell far short of owner Jim Irsay’s expectations. A late season loss against the lowly Jaguars seemed to do Wentz in. Soon after the loss, Irsay called the trade for Wentz “a mistake”.
Two months later, Wentz was traded to the Commanders where he’s out to prove that three’s a charm. Wentz has said all the right things so far, accepting the game ball after the week one win, while still holding himself accountable for his own mistakes in a post-game speech to his team. “I think speaking up like that, I think his teammates hearing him take responsibility and ownership of his own play, that was huge," Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera said. "So that's important, not just to me and his teammates, but to him. I think that was huge."
Wentz is, no doubt, trying to make sure his locker room presence is strong and positive, because along with putting a few bad seasons behind him, his leadership, once called into question in Philadelphia (and arguably leading to his demise with the Eagles) has reportedly also been a problem. “The past is called the past for a reason. If you are constantly looking behind you, your eyes aren't on the road ahead. You don't drive a car that way, so why would you live your life that way?” – Rachel Van Dyken, The Bet. You can bet that Wentz has his eyes on the road ahead. How well he will navigate that road, is still in question.
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