How will Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz rebound from the worst game of his career?
He's treating it the same as if he played the best game of his career. "Nothing about this week is changing just because of the result of last week. How I performed, how we performed as a team, we're still going to go out and practice the same."
After the worst performance of Carson Wentz's NFL career, the Eagles' starting quarterback is back to work as if he just played the best game of his career. He treats his no-touchdown, three-interception performance the same he would if he had been on the team that scored 48 points and not the team that scored seven.
"Nothing about this week is changing just because of the result of last week," Wentz said Wednesday as the Eagles prepared for Sunday's home game against the New York Giants. "How I performed, how we performed as a team, we're still going to go out and practice the same, I'm still going to prepare mentally all the same. I don't get hung up on that stuff. I keep giving what I know."
Wentz has played 37 career games, but his 31.9 passer rating in last Sunday's loss to New Orleans was worse than any of the other 36 games – including those in the doldrums of his rookie season. It was just the second time in Wentz's career he had three interceptions in a game. It was the sixth time he had no touchdowns, and all the others came as a rookie.
It's not that Wentz tolerated the performance or even tried rationalizing it. But he said he has built his routine, and he wants that to be impervious to performance.
"It's just the way this league is," Wentz said. "There's going to be good weeks, there's going to be bad weeks. There's going to be some in between. You never want to be on the emotional roller coaster. You want to stay the same."
In an NBC Sports column from a reporter embedded with the Saints coaching staff on the eve of the game, it was revealed that the Saints' defensive game plan was to "put the game on Wentz" because the Eagles aren't as effective when they become a one-dimensional, pass-happy offense. When Wentz was asked about this strategy on Wednesday, he said he wasn't aware of the report and that he's trying to put the game behind him.
"I can tell you this: We got a lot of confidence in Carson and his ability to throw the ball," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said.
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Coach Doug Pederson described Wentz's performance against the Saints as "a quarterback that really was fighting and trying to make plays on the field and generate a spark offensively." Wentz did not believe he was pressing to make a play in that game – at least not until the end when the Eagles were down a significant deficit – but there were clearly not enough plays made by Wentz or the offense, and there were too many mistakes.
"It's unfortunate because he prides himself in really embracing that and kind of taking this team on his shoulders and leading by example on and off the football field," Pederson said. "It just didn't happen, and so he's disappointed, obviously frustrated, as we all are … and great opportunity again on Sunday to fix it."
If the Eagles can salvage this season, it would need to be in large part because of Wentz. The offense's problems this year are vexing to everyone in the NovaCare Complex, including Wentz, who doesn't have a good reason why the team struggles to score early in games. They are not out of the playoff hunt, but at 4-6 they are running out of time.
In 2016, the Green Bay Packers started the season 4-6. As they prepared for a Thanksgiving weekend game in Philadelphia, Aaron Rodgers said he thought the Packers could "run the table." They did, winning their final six games and reaching the NFC championship game. It happened because of Rodgers, who threw 15 touchdowns with no interceptions during the six-game winning streak.
Wentz didn't offer any bold declarations during his Wednesday news conference, but he realizes it's incumbent on him to lead the way for the Eagles.
"I feel a lot of expectations on myself, and I hold myself to high expectations," Wentz said. "And what we put out last week, what I put out last week, was not good enough. It's definitely not good enough. I don't want to put undue pressure or added pressure on my shoulders. I try to not avoid those things, but as the quarterback and one of the leaders of this team, I realize I definitely got to be better to get this thing going."
It started at practice on Wednesday, although according to Wentz, it was no different than it was any other week – even the week leading up to the worst game of his career. He needs to find a way to fix it if he'll play in the first playoff game of his career.
"Last week was last week, that's behind us," Wentz said. "Personally, as a team, that doesn't represent who we are or how we play this game. We're all just looking forward to this next opportunity."
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The Eagles began their practice week undermanned at cornerback: Jalen Mills (foot), Sidney Jones (hamstring), and Rasul Douglas (knee) all missed practice. So did safety/cornerback Avonte Maddox (knee). Linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf) was out, as expected. The good news was center Jason Kelce (elbow) and long snapper Rick Lovato (concussion) both practiced. …When asked about Malcolm Jenkins' comments rebuking the Eagles' "demeanor" in Sunday's loss, Pederson said he talks "about ownership quite a bit, and I think some of his comments are directed toward him" and that "it kinds of sends a message a little bit to everybody." …Pederson said of the Eagles' 4-6 record: " We're a play or two or three away from flipping the script. So, we're close."