PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMEDAY MAGAZINE 25
Quarterback Carson Wentz stood at the
podium at MetLife Stadium last Sunday
just minutes after a 34-17 victory over
the New York Giants clinched the NFC
East title for the Eagles and reflected
on the journey that landed the Eagles
in the NFL’s postseason. It was a recordsetting
season for Wentz, who became
the first Eagles quarterback to throw a
touchdown in every one of 16 regularseason
games, to throw for more than
4,000 yards, and to establish a franchise
record for most completions in a season.
Wentz stood there, healthy, happy, and
“grateful” for the circumstances that
have come together to push him into the
first postseason of his NFL career.
“Grateful for my health, grateful to
be out here with the guys in these
big meaningful games. Grateful to be
playing into January,” said Wentz, who
threw 27 touchdown passes and just
seven interceptions in 16 games. He
enters the playoffs having not thrown
an interception since the final-play Hail
Mary in the December 1 loss at Miami,
a span of 173 passes. “The last few
weeks have been backs-against-the-wall
(games) for us. Guys have responded
and stepped up and kept making play
after play after play. Just kept believing.
And here we are playing into January.
Hopefully, we can do something special.”
In his fourth season, Wentz has already
vaulted into the upper, upper echelon of
quarterbacks in Eagles history and in
the entire NFL. He’s accomplished
so much – starter in first game as a
rookie, MVP candidate in 2017, voted
to the Pro Bowl, Super Bowl Champion
– and yet when he trots onto the field
today to play the Seattle Seahawks, he
will take his first playoff snap.
A knee injury suffered in December 2017
robbed Wentz of the glory of the World
Championship run. A back injury suffered
one year later ended Wentz’s season as
the Eagles made a final-month push to
reach the playoffs.
In 2019, Wentz would not be denied.
While the Eagles were ravaged by
injury and the offense changed on the
fly, Wentz remained the constant. He
stepped up and carried the offense on
his back, integrating the new players into
the attack, flowing with whomever the
Eagles had available at wide receiver or
running back or tight end that week and
making it work.
The Eagles won four straight games to
close out the regular season and Wentz
tossed seven touchdown passes and
no interceptions in that period of time,
showing complete command of the offense
and the situation time and time again.
“I think he’s grown up as a leader of this
team,” head coach Doug Pederson says.
“You’ve seen it here now the last couple
of games, how he’s really just put the
team on his back and said, ‘Hey, follow
me,’ and I think that’s a sign of growth
and a sign of maturity. I spent eight years
in Green Bay with Brett Favre and that’s
what Brett did. Brett just put the team on
his back when the chips were against us
and he said, ‘Hey, follow me,’ and that’s
what Carson can do. The guys really, and
I have so much faith and trust in him that
I can call almost any play and he’s either
going to make that one work or he’s
going to get us into a better play and so
he’s really grown up that way and really
matured that way in this league and just
really turned into a pro.”
That Wentz played in a career-high 1,168
snaps – 99 percent of the Eagles’ offense
this season – is the biggest victory of all.
He’s been a terrific producer since he
entered the league and has been every
bit as sensational as the best of the
best in the NFL – he’s third in passing
touchdowns per game since the 2017
season (2.0) and sixth in the NFL in passer
rating (98.3) the last three seasons – but
durability has been the challenge.
An offseason program to eat healthier
and “lean out,” as Wentz said in the
summer, paid dividends. Wentz played
smart football throughout the regular
season, avoiding unnecessary hits
whenever he could, but he didn’t shy
away from dazzling moments or picking
up key yardage with his legs.
It’s all added up to this moment. Wentz
is the leader of the offense, but he knows
the Eagles wouldn’t be where they are
without everyone – players, coaches, the
entire team – contributing.
So, yes, this is a winning time for Wentz,
and he appreciates it.
“I think that’s what makes it that much
more special,” he says. “The camaraderie
of the guys buying in and believing.
Whether it’s guys on the defensive
side or offensive side, we’ve had new
playmakers every week. Different guys
stepping up because guys are getting
hurt and banged up. It’s just fun to see
guys step up in big moments like that.
Guys who were on the practice squad
last year. For them to step up in the way
they have and for guys to make plays, it’s
THE NEXT STEP
CARSON WENTZ IS READY FOR HIS PLAYOFF DEBUT
BY DAVE SPADARO, EAGLES INSIDER