IN HIS EIGHT NFL starts so far, Carson Wentz hasn't managed to carry the Eagles to victory with any late-game, come-from-behind drives.

This is disappointing. Sunday, it was sitting right there for him, after Jordan Hicks intercepted Eli Manning at the Giants' 34 with a minute and 48 seconds remaining. Wentz and the Eagles' offense couldn't close the deal.

Here's the thing, though: This was not the paradigm, at all, when we embarked upon our rookie QB journey with the trade of Sam Bradford back on Sept. 3. The Eagles did not go into the season with the idea that Wentz was going to take the team on his shoulders in the fourth quarter, and victories would ensue.

As I recall, there was going to be an emphasis on a running game keyed by Ryan Mathews and what the Eagles hoped would be a dominant offensive line. The defense was going to gobble up turnovers and keep opponents from scoring many points.

Nelson Agholor, who had four catches for 57 yards and that perfect 35-yard touchdown against the Browns in the opener, was going to blossom into what a first-round wide receiver ought to be. Jordan Matthews was going to be surehanded and steady, if not quite a superstar. The three dynamic tight ends were going to make up for an overall lack of explosiveness in the receiving corps.

Very little of that stuff has gone exactly to plan. The Eagles have a middle-of-the-road running game, as long as nothing happens to 33-year-old Darren Sproles. Mathews (five carries, 15 yards Sunday, one carry for 1 yard in the second half) seems to be sinking slowly out of sight, for reasons that have not been adequately explained. The o-line without suspended right tackle Lane Johnson has its ups and downs, is far short of dominant. Wentz gets way more pressure than is ideal.

Wentz should never have tried either of the two passes that were intercepted on the Eagles' first two series Sunday, but the lack of a decent pocket figured into both picks. The first, he was throwing on a dead run after Jason Kelce tripped over Stefen Wisniewski. Wentz should have thrown the ball away, but tried to salvage the play and find Agholor. The second, he tried to step up and was sandwiched between Kelce and Wisniewski, who were both being shoved toward him. The ball sailed because Wentz was throwing from a tight space, unable to turn his shoulders.

Wentz and the Eagles are facing better defenses than in those first few weeks, and the rookie QB is being asked to do too much, trying to do too much, looking for plays that aren't there.

Those early games, the Eagles ran a lot the first few series, limited Wentz to some quick, easy throws, built rhythm and confidence.

"I would love to run the ball more," Doug Pederson said Monday. "Obviously, I think it does help Carson when you're not putting everything, the whole game, on his shoulders."

Pederson noted that even in the run game, the Eagles "ask Carson to do a lot" with run-pass options, something that did not go well against the Giants.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and the league's most prolific offense come to Philly this week, and it's important that fans, coaches and teammates not expect Wentz to outdo Ryan. Ryan, from Exton and Penn Charter, is 31 now, with three Pro Bowl appearances and 135 career regular-season starts.

Ryan has Julio Jones. Wentz's fan base currently is pinning unrealistic hopes on the potential of undrafted rookie Bryce Treggs.

"You've got young guys out there that are kind of learning these situations, and the more we show them - just working through decisions, route combinations, just the execution of the play, and just understanding the play itself, has a big part of the success in the end of football games," Pederson said, when asked if his players are getting too tight under the collar in late-game situations.

Pederson said the Eagles need to find out who among their weapons can be "that guy" capable of making a play with the game on the line.

"As we build, and as we grow, those are things that we'll figure out and get better at," he said.

Sunday, Wentz hit Agholor for 17 yards on the first snap after Hicks intercepted Manning. The four plays after that, the only real chance Wentz had was on fourth down, when he threw wide of Matthews in the end zone, Matthews expecting the ball more to the inside.

On none of the three plays before that did the Eagles do a decent job of blitz pickup. First down was a throwaway with unblocked Olivier Vernon in Wentz's face. Second down, it was Jason Pierre-Paul chasing Wentz, who threw incomplete to Sproles while backpedaling. Pederson lamented the lost potential of the third-down screen attempt to Sproles, but really, Jonathan Casillas was on Wentz too soon, then Pierre-Paul batted away the pass.

If the Eagles are going to win these games, the rookie QB needs more help. Lots more help.

Developing story lines

* Doug Pederson said defensive tackle Bennie Logan (groin) should be able to practice Wednesday. Seems there is optimism Logan plays this week, after missing the last three games.

* Pederson acknowledged that right now, Darren Sproles is the lead back, not Ryan Mathews. "By stats and by what you're seeing, I would say Darren is the No. 1 back right now. Ryan is still a big part . . . It's still a little bit of the running back by committee. Obviously, we haven't hung our hat on one guy. But we tend to lean toward Darren Sproles; it's hard to take him off the field right now."

* First time Carson Wentz and Dorial Green-Beckham missed connections Sunday, to me looked like clear pass interference on Janoris Jenkins, who made contact with and rerouted Green-Beckham 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. No mention of this from Joe Buck on the broadcast; he was too busy repeatedly lamenting what he felt was a bad spot on the previous play, when Sproles was awarded a first down by inches. Nobody pointed out to Buck that when he thought Sproles was down, Sproles actually was rolling forward off the body of a Giant, hadn't touched ground.

* Brandon Graham set up Destiny Vaeao's sack of Eli Manning, the Eagles' only sack of the day, with 2:48 left in the first quarter. This was a big problem. Going in, I picked the Eagles to win because I liked the matchup of the Birds' d-line against the Giants' o-line. It turned out to be a draw, at best. "If we didn't win (the game), then we didn't get enough pressure," Connor Barwin said afterward. Barwin got a hand on two passes. The second, he deflected for Jordan Hicks' interception with a minute and 48 seconds remaining. But Barwin and Graham seemed to be fighting a lonely pass rush battle up front.

* Speaking of Hicks, has an Eagles receiver made a catch that athletic this season?

* You could see Wentz yelling at himself after he ran out of bounds on a scramble, losing 5 yards on first down in the first half. He was outside the pocket, all he needed to do before stepping out was flick the ball past the line of scrimmage marker, to a teammate on the bench or a coach or a team doctor or Howard Eskin, and it's second-and-10. The Eagles gained 11 yards the next two plays, ended up punting, because they needed 15.

* Jaylen Watkins has worked hard to make himself somebody the Eagles can use, but he had an awful day against the Giants. You saw him cut off/run into Leodis McKelvin (also had a terrible day) on the second Giants touchdown. Later Watkins was more or less spinning around aimlessly behind Roger Lewis Jr. when the rookie receiver dropped an Eli Manning bomb. Then Watkins took that helmet-to-helmet penalty on an Odell Beckham Jr. catch.

* Just like in hockey, it's the retaliation that gets called. On a later play, Giants offensive lineman Bobby Hart roughly flung Watkins off the pile atop Beckham. When Nigel Bradham slapped Hart in the helmet, it was 15 yards on Bradham. (Buck and Troy Aikman were oblivious to what Hart did as well, though their cameras caught it clearly.)

* Rewatching, that third-and-4 run by Wentz that only netted 2 yards after the Nolan Carroll interception, it wasn't quite as hopeless as I'd thought. Zach Ertz did end up trying to block four Giants, but if he'd gotten to safety Andrew Adams, the other pursuers might not have been able to stop a Wentz dive for the chains.

Those fourth downs again

Doug Pederson had a night to think it over, watched the game film, and Pederson said Monday he still wouldn't kick field goals on those two first-half fourth downs that could have meant six points in an eventual five-point loss Sunday.

"I still feel strongly about those. I think the decisions to go for it just show confidence and belief in the guys," said the Eagles' rookie head coach. "At that time, I felt like we were moving the ball . . . We had more opportunities in this game. In my opinion, it didn't come down to those two plays. There were enough things in this game that cost us this football game. I still stick by what I did, how I chose to go for it in both those situations."

Pederson said the Eagles, facing a zero blitz from the Giants, "missed an assignment" on the first try, on which Carson Wentz ran to the left and was swarmed for a 4-yard loss on fourth-and-2. He seemed to be talking about Jordan Matthews, who fell down and completely whiffed on Jason Pierre-Paul, but the whole Giants defense was coming. Not a strong play call.

The second time, fourth-and-1 from the Giants' 6, Pederson felt the Eagles' blocking got turned sideways a bit. Johnathan Hankins got penetration despite being double-teamed. He eventually was shoved aside, but not before opening a path for teammates to swarm over the line. Darren Sproles might have had room to cut back but tried to hit it inside, where he was stopped just short.

The Eagles had been 5-for-5 this season on fourth down before converting just one of four such chances Sunday, the last failure coming on their final play.

"I felt comfortable in everything we did, the way I called the game," Pederson said. "Even down the stretch, we had opportunities . . . We just missed on the last play of the game, a play that we actually completed earlier, to the same receiver . . . in the third quarter . . . We gotta keep working and keeping making those plays."

Obscure stat

The Eagles are being outscored 42-19 in the first quarter so far this season. It's the only quarter where they don't have a cumulative edge.

Who knew?

That Brent Celek, the tight end who is the franchise's No. 4 all-time pass receiver with 376 catches, would have all of five at midseason? Yes, Celek is 31. Yes, he has slowed down. Yes, the Eagles need him to block, especially with Lane Johnson four games into a 10-game league suspension. But here is the thing: They need Celek in the passing game as well. Sure hands, runs over people, unlike Zach Ertz. Runs routes the right way. Hasn't even been targeted the past two weeks. As a result, Troy Aikman correctly noted that when opponents see Celek come in, they think run.

Doug Pederson said Monday that Celek suffered a nondisplaced rib fracture Sunday and will miss practice Wednesday, but that shouldn't keep him out of the Atlanta game.

@LesBowen

Blog: philly.com/Eaglesblog