The mantra, recited almost universally around here, mumbled like oft-repeated prayers, goes something like this: 
The season will be a success if Carson Wentz makes progress. Developing the kid is what this year is really all about.
It is comforting. It also is true. The problem comes on the days when Wentz regresses. Days like Sunday in Cincinnati.
Or, as Bob Brookover writes in his column, “The more pertinent fact is that this was a step backward for Wentz, who has thrown twice as many interceptions (10) as touchdowns (5) in his last seven games.”
Or, as David Murphy says in his column, “More often than not, it comes well before now. The first hint of a downside, the crystallization of risk. On a gloomy day in a gloomy city, the Eagles confronted their own mortality. His name was Carson Wentz, and he was really, really bad.”
The whole, awful day in Cincinnati rocked the Eagles. There can be little doubt of that.
Zach Berman began his game story this way: “Doug Pederson gathered his players in a losing locker room Sunday and told them the season could go in one of two directions. He tried convincing them that it will only go up, as if the previous three hours did not offer all the evidence needed for the direction of his team.”
Les Bowen expressed more than a few doubts, too: “Several Eagles declared their team never quit Sunday, in a 32-14 loss to a Cincinnati Bengals group that set a season scoring high, and led 29-0 in the third quarter. Standing there in a silent, forlorn visitors locker room at Paul Brown Stadium, it was hard not to feel embarrassed for them. Maybe they really believed what they were saying, and were just fooling themselves. Maybe they knew better, but were desperate to cover their humiliation with as many shreds of their tattered dignity as they could gather.”
Jeff McLane wondered about coach Doug Pederson, and the long wait for his press conference, and what lies ahead:  “But then the coach emerged and Pederson's predicament was put into proper context. He is only 12 games into his first year. He has had to work with a thin roster constructed mostly by others. He has a rookie as his quarterback. And he has four games left to prove that he can at least point the rescue boats in the right direction.”
In the end, Bob Ford summed things up this way, “The Eagles didn't just lose a game or whatever hope lingered for their season on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. They lost, or should have, the organization's belief that better days are right around the corner.”