No one can deny that Nick Foles will FOREVER and ALWAYS be a legend in the city of Philadelphia, and that he will never have to pay for a beer in this town again. This city is eternally grateful to him for delivering us our first ever Lombardi Trophy. However, many in the sports world seem to have disregarded what happened last season before Week 14 – The absolute breakout emergence of one of the NFL’s biggest superstars, Carson Wentz.
Looking back at his rookie campaign in the 2016-17 season, his stats weren’t exactly great. Wentz finished the year with just 16 TD’s, and 14 INT’s. He also fumbled the ball 4 times. If you can even imagine, at this time the talk of the league was that Dak Prescott was the league’s best young quarterback and that he was poised for superstardom.. I think it’s safe to say that that narrative can be put to rest. Despite his numbers, those who watched Wentz knew that this guy was absolutely special. It was apparent to anyone who followed the 2016-17 Eagles that Wentz’s stats took a big hit due to the fact that the Eagles offensive line was absolutely awful. Between Lane Johnson’s suspension for PED’s, plaguing injuries, and coaches constantly plugging guys in and out of different positions on the line, Wentz was a deer in headlights every time he took a snap. He was sacked 33 times that year. It also didn’t help that he had one of the worst weapon corps in the NFL to work with. His “arsenal” included a RB in Ryan Mathews, who couldn’t stay healthy or hold on to the ball, a WR in Nelson Agholor who at the time struggled to even catch the football (It’s okay though, Nelson. We love you now.) WR Dorial Green Beckham… (no comment,) and his most “reliable” WR target Jordan Matthews who notoriously had problems with drops, especially on would-be touchdown passes. Quite frankly, his only consistent weapon was TE Zach Ertz who still today is incredible and arguably the best TE in the league.
Obviously, this combined with the aforementioned awful offensive line set him up to fail. So what changed the next year?
In the following offseason, The Eagles landed three of the biggest free-agents available; WR Torrey Smith, RB LeGarrette Blount, and WR Alshon Jeffery. When asked why these three chose Philadelphia, all had their reasons, but one reason in particular was in common with every single one’s answer. They wanted to play with Carson Wentz.
Why would they choose to play with a young kid like Wentz over teams with established QB’s like the Steelers, Packers, and Patriots? Because they saw what we saw. Wentz is undeniably special and magical on the field. His ability to extend the play, avoid sacks, and deliver strikes to seemingly covered players is unmatched. His off-the-field greatness also changed the entire culture of the locker room and encouraged free agents like them to join the Eagles. They took the gamble on betting on Wentz’s potential, and boy did it pay off.
Wentz’s 2017-18 season was spectacular and one of the most dominant campaigns by a QB in recent memory. He set the league on fire with 33 TD’s, 3,300 yards, and completed 60.2% of his passes. His red-zone and third-down numbers were at the top of the league, he was the clear choice for NFL MVP. That was until Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams, in which Wentz was up to his usual ways, picking the Rams defense apart and racking up nearly 300 yards. Unfortunately, on the infamous 1st and goal run we’ve replayed in our heads 500 times, he dove for the end zone and tore his ACL. Like the champion he is, he stayed in the game and ended up throwing his 4th touchdown pass of the day to Alshon Jeffery.. ON A TORN ACL. Sadly, this would end his magnificent season. The Eagles at 11-2 clinched the NFC East with this win, and were just one win away from clinching the #1 seed in the NFC, and securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. He had set up the Eagles in an absolutely golden spot even at his exit. Tom Brady, undeservingly, went on to win MVP. Despite Wentz only playing 13 games and still having a higher touchdown total.
Wentz, in typical Wentz fashion, was the absolute greatest teammate he could be and stood right by Nick Foles’ side through the entire rest of the season. Foles says he and Wentz spent hours upon hours together studying game film, and that Wentz studied film as hard as him as if he was playing. They constantly worked together in the QB room giving each other advice and learning how to improve the offense. Foles has credited Wentz’s comradery as one of the main reasons he was able to succeed the way he did.
I’ve been dying to write this piece for a very long time. Ever since watching the sports media world, and even some Eagles fans disregard the impact and influence Wentz had on our first Super Bowl Championship. Carson Wentz is every bit as much of a Super Bowl Champion as every man on the field who played in that game. He completely revolutionized the culture of the team, enticed key free agents to choose Philadelphia, had one of the greatest MVP-caliber seasons in recent memory, and was the best teammate you can ask for in taking on the role as QB coach/council after his injury. True Eagles fans will never forget the magical season Wentz delivered to us. There is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that one day Wentz will have his very own statue outside of the Linc, and a banner with his number 11 will be raised into the rafters one day and live forever.
Thank you Carson Wentz, for being the absolute champion you are.
-Sincerely, Eagles fans around the world.