The Eagles roared back for a 32-27 comeback victory against the Redskins in the first game of the season. Among some of the key headlines in the season-opener, of course, is Carson Wentz.
After suffering a knee and back injury in the last two seasons, Wentz now looks healthy, and that should terrify the NFL.

It was a slow start for Wentz, who hadn’t played a single snap in the preseason. Whether it was rust, bad reads, or a combination of both, both Wentz and the Eagles hadn’t put together the most inspiring performance in the first half. The Eagles entered halftime down 20-7, and Wentz and the offense weren’t able to muster much of anything, with their lone score being a 51-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson.

However, entering the second half, something clicked for Wentz, and it was bombs away.

The Eagles ripped off 25 unanswered points: a 5-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Alshon Jeffery, a 53-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Jackson, a 2-yard Jeffery rush (which was barely behind the line of scrimmage, taking away another Wentz TD), and a 22-yard Jake Elliot field goal. Wentz finished the game throwing 28 of 39 for 313 yards and 3 TDs.

That scoring run looked like the Eagles of old, and the main reason for that: Wentz looked like his MVP-self from 2017.

Yes, it’s a new season, but it’s hard not to make that comparison. The glaring stat the screams similarities is Wentz’s production on third down, where he was 12 of 13 for 197 yards and 3 touchdowns. Similarly, in 2017, Wentz’s elite success on third down is ultimately what earned him his money.

However, it was more than just Wentz’s efficiency: it was how he looked doing it.

Last season, it’s fair to say Wentz put up similar numbers compared to 2017, but it was obvious something wasn’t quite right with him. Coming off a torn ACL and LCL, that is to be expected.

Wentz actually averaged a career-high in completion percentage, threw for more yards per game in 2018 than in 2017 and had a better passer rating. The team’s overall success hindered some of the credit that was due for Wentz, but he was actually capable of doing more, and his health restricted him from that.

Teammates say Wentz suffered a back injury that ultimately was determined to be fractured vertebrae in week 5 against the Carolina Panthers, and he played with that injury through week 14.

Over that period of time, which was 11 total games for Wentz, he not only was playing with a knee that wasn’t close to being 100%, he was also playing with a back injury that made it hard for him to even sit down at times.

Wentz wasn’t right, and it took away his explosiveness, some of his confidence (whether he wants to admit it or not), and his overall ability to help a team, which was trying to repeat as Super Bowl champions and contend.

Injuries are something that can largely be the result of bad luck, but this offseason, Wentz devoted himself towards transforming his body from just being a part of him as an athlete, to now being the difference-maker for him.

Wentz cut out fatty foods like pizza in an effort to get leaner, and worked out harder than ever in the gym to get stronger; a combo that’s harder to pair than some people realize.

It’s just one game into the season, but it’s clear the benefits Wentz’s transformation is making.

With his knee back at full health and the back injury now in the past, Wentz is no longer being physically hindered by nagging injuries that unfortunately drew some to question his ability to be a franchise quarterback.

In the first game of the season, Wentz was moving freely both inside and outside of the pocket, making plays at every moment that he needed to, specifically in the second half. It was a mirror image of what we saw at times in 2017. Some of his magic acts drew murmurs in the crowd, with fans saying: “that’s the Carson I know and love!”

The last time Wentz was at “full health”, the Eagles steamrolled almost every team they faced, and have the best offense in football. Even worse, for the rest of the NFL, the Eagles have even more weapons this time around. Between Jeffery, Jackson, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, along with Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, and Darren Sproles, there is an overwhelming amount of ways the Eagles can strike. And of course, it comes down to the quarterback to get that done.

Between dropping dimes in windows smaller than a pet door and elusively evading his way from pressure and slithering into free space in the pocket to get a tough throw off, one thing is clear: Wentz is feeling healthy, and, as we saw week one, it will only pay dividends with such an explosive offense.

Photo: Philadelphia Eagles Website
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