Carson Wentz’s Week 2 showing against Atlanta was a perfect look at the highs and lows he provides as a QB. He showed his ceiling on a clutch throw after clutch throw in the 4th quarter, but also his floor on the two ugly interceptions he threw in the first half. Wentz started slow but came alive in the 4th quarter, almost willing his injury-depleted team to victory.

Ultimately, he was let down by his teammates on the last drive of the game, bringing the Eagles to a 1-1 record after two games. Below we take a deep dive on Wentz’s performance, both the good and the bad.

The most important thing to keep in mind in evaluating Wentz for this week is that he was missing 3 of his top targets in Alshon Jeffery,  DeSean Jackson, and Dallas Goedert. Goedert tweaked his calf during warmups and missed the entire game, while both Jeffery and Djax only played the first series and did not return. This means that the Eagles had 3 receivers (Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside) and one tight end (Zach Ertz) as the only pass-catchers left.

Wentz Passing Chart

Especially with DeSean out, Wentz had trouble getting anything going deep. He had only 4 attempts past 20+ yards, with two of them being intercepted. The only one he was able to complete was a 4th down heave to Agholor on a busted coverage from the Atlanta secondary.

Another issue that Wentz had with his top targets out was miscommunications with his receivers, mainly Arcega-Whiteside. This is understandable considering the two don’t get any practice time together, but Wentz had trouble connecting with his rookie receiver. Arcega-White finished the game with only 1 catch for 4 yards, and the two had this interesting moment below.

Before the play, Wentz leans over and communicates something to Arcega-Whiteside, but he ends up throwing a back-shoulder fade while Arcega-Whiteside runs a fly route. After the play, a clearly frustrated Wentz does the eye-motion to his young receiver, signaling that he needs his eyes.

Even with all of the injuries, there is no sugar-coating how bad Wentz looked in the first half. He threw two interceptions and looked so off that many in the media were speculating if ended up getting injured on a vicious hit by Deion Jones. It was understandable why people thought he might have been hurt as he was inaccurate to end the half after this play. The Eagles had trouble moving the ball in the run game as well, but Wentz did not do himself any favors. 

The above video highlights some of the inaccuracies Wentz had trouble within the first half. The first and third plays might seem like nit-picking as the receiver was able to get a hand on the ball, but both of those throws should have been placed better and could have changed the complexion of the game. The first pass to Ertz was on 2nd and 8 at the end of the 1st quarter with the Eagles trailing 3-0. A good throw to Ertz gives the Eagles a first down and moves them into scoring position. Instead, on the very next play, Wentz threw his first interception.

The third throw to Agholor occurred at the end of the 2nd half with the Eagles down 10-3. It does hit Agholor in the hands, but a better-placed ball results in a TD if Wentz is able to hit him in the hands instead of the ball being high and behind him. The game could have been tied, but instead, the Eagles went into half time down 10-6 after a Jake Elliott field goal.

After a rough 1st half, whatever Wentz and Pederson did at halftime worked as Wentz came back a new man. His first touchdown pass came on a beautiful strike to Agholor on 4th and 4 with about 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter trailing 17-6.

The most impressive play of this drive was not the touchdown, though, but what came the play before it. It was 3rd and 10, and Wentz was able to escape pressure to find Hollins for a 6 yard gain. If Wentz gets sacked here, the Eagles most likely end up kicking a field goal instead of the 6 points (they went for 2 after the TD but did not convert.)

Two drives later, the Eagles found themselves trailing 17-12 with 11:35 minutes in the 4th quarter. On this drive, Wentz proved to be incredibly clutch as he orchestrated a 13 play, 73-yard touchdown drive that took 8 minutes and 29 seconds off the clock and also gave the Eagles the lead. During this drive, Wentz converted on 3rd down 4 different times to keep the drive alive. None more impressive than this 3rd down wizardry to Hollins. 

4 plays after this Wentz scores from the 1 on a QB sneak. The Eagles were able to convert the 2 point conversion which gave them a 3 point lead. Unfortunately, the Eagles defense could not hold the Falcons out of the end-zone, so Wentz got the ball back with 1:58 left in the game down 4. In the drive with the highest stakes, his teammates did him no favors.

Agholor had one of the worst drops that will ever be seen in a football game, as the ball hit him right in the hands when he was streaking down the sideline with 3 full yards of space. If Agholor catches this ball he scores and gives the Eagles defense a chance to redeem themselves. Sproles also had a bad drop on a 1st and 10 that would have given the Eagles a more manageable 2nd down. Even with those two drops, Wentz was able to bring the Eagles all the way down to the Falcons 16 yard line with 38 seconds left in the game after a tremendous 43-yard pass on 4th and 14 to Agholor. This is where the game ended, though, as Ertz failed to run his route deep enough to convert a 4th and 8, coming up just inches short. All 3 plays are shown below.

Overall, this was about as gutty a performance you’ll see out of a quarterback. Missing 3 major targets, Wentz received little help from his teammates and still almost pulled out the victory. He showed toughness as he took a beating and continued to hang tall in the pocket up until the last play of the game.

The Eagles should be proud of Wentz as a leader, but after watching the film they will see that he left many plays on the field, especially in the first half. If the Eagles and Wentz can correct their slow starts, Wentz could vault himself back into the MVP conversation. 

Featured Photo: YONG KIM / Philly Inquirer
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