Carson Wentz had the worst first half of his career, which is either a regression of his talents or the natural by-product of having practice-squad guys to throw to and a merry-go-round along the offensive line. Still, too many of his errors are unforced.
Wentz’s 12 touchdown passes over the first eight games are his fewest since his rookie year, and his 16 turnovers are almost a career high for an entire season. Yikes. He had 17 in 2016 (14 interceptions, three fumbles lost) when he was a rookie.
He’s also been sacked a league-high 32 times, which makes it hard to get life insurance and even harder to believe the Eagles (3-4-1) still are in first place. Thank you, NFC East.
Here’s a look Wentz’s career in the first and second halves of the Eagles' seasons.
Second-half lowlight: Threw three interceptions and had six passes batted down as the Eagles, who trailed 29-0, were smothered in a 32-14 loss at Cincinnati.
Second-half highlight: Finished the season with two wins, including the finale over the Cowboys. Dallas had clinched the No. 1 seed and mostly played its second-stringers, but it was a laudable conclusion to an encouraging rookie season for Wentz.
The quote: “Obviously we didn’t end the year like we wanted to as far as in the win-loss category [7-9]," Wentz said. "But to win the last two games going in to the offseason, I think it will just give us a lot of confidence heading into it.”
Second-half lowlight: Tearing his ACL and LCL in Week 14 at Los Angeles. The Eagles were 11-2 and looking at a special season.
Second-half highlight: Wentz remained in the game after his injury long enough to throw a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery, which set the team single-season record of 33 TD passes. Of course, Nick Foles would make people forget all about that over the next eight weeks.
The quote: “My job right now is to step in that huddle and keep this thing rolling," Foles said after beating the Rams. “That’s what I plan on doing.”
Second-half lowlight: Wentz struggled most of the year with a back injury that finally ended his season with three games to go. Eventually, a stress fracture was diagnosed. The worm was beginning to turn for Wentz, who went from No. 2 pick/face-of-the-franchise to “can this guy stay healthy?"
Second-half highlight: Foles won the final three games and the Eagles snuck into the playoffs. They even won a game when Chicago kicker Cody Parkey double-doinked a potential game-winning field goal.
The quote: “It appears that the Eagles knew exactly when Wentz hurt himself [in Week 5], and they knew that it might worsen, but they let him play anyway,” wrote Inquirer columnist Marcus Hayes. “Let him play on a reconstructed knee, behind a decimated offensive line, with a receiving corps so depleted that they traded for Golden Tate five games ago.”
Second-half lowlight: A three-game losing streak, by a total of 21 points, threatened to torpedo the season.
Second-half highlight: Wentz closed with a December to remember, winning the final four games with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions. The Eagles (9-7) won the NFC East but lost to Seattle in the wild-card game when Wentz was ruled out with a concussion midway through the first quarter.
The quote: “You don’t know [if we would have won], but I would say yes,” coach Doug Pederson said. “If he was healthy, with the game plan we had, I think so. I’m disappointed for him. I wanted this for him. His teammates did, too. He’s battled through a lot.”
Second-half pessimism: Wentz is going to need some help from his defense when the Eagles start a four-game stretch in Week 12 against quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Kyler Murray.
Second-half optimism: The Eagles' first three games are against the Giants, Browns, and Seahawks. All three have defenses in the bottom third of the league in passing yards allowed. The toughest defense they’ll face is probably Washington’s in Week 17, and who knows what kind of shape they’ll be in by then,
Bottom line: If Wentz can cut down on the turnovers, the Eagles actually can win their division and host a playoff game. As it stands heading into Week 10, the opponent would be the Buccaneers, which means Wentz would finally get a shot to take on Tom Brady in a postseason game. Who wouldn’t want to see that?