Carson Wentz is improving and playing better football than given credit for. Stop me if you've heard this before as recently as 2019, but that doesn't make it untrue. Wentz has played with a roster of practice squad players before, but the 2020 season somehow topped everything the Eagles quarterback has previously had to work with when it comes to dealing with injuries to his supporting cast on offense.
Wentz's job is more difficult than ever given the injuries, and as the injuries mount, his job gets more difficult every week. Wentz has still found a way to put up points as the Eagles improved their point total in each of their first five games of the season -- despite losing an average of two offensive starters each week. Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens was the first time the Eagles offense had a declining point total from the previous week -- down from 29 to 28 -- even though they lost the NFL's league leader among running backs in yards per carry (Miles Sanders) and the tight end who has the most receptions in NFL history through his first seven seasons (Zach Ertz).
With the Eagles down to Boston Scott and Corey Clement at running back, Richard Rodgers and Jason Croom -- yes Jason Croom -- at tight end -- in addition to Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, and Greg Ward at wide receiver, Wentz and the offense found a way to score 28 points against the league's top-ranked defense in points allowed. And the injuries to Wentz's skill position players don't even being to touch on the injuries that have happened along the offensive line.
Here were the Eagles' projected starters on offense heading into the season and then their offense during the Week 6 loss to the Ravens.
Projected starters (12 personnel)
- Alshon Jeffery was expected to miss the start of the season with a LisFranc Injury, but was listed as first team on the depth chart. Jackson and Reagor were the starters at wide receiver with Jeffery out.
- Jason Peters was moved to left tackle after Andre Dillard was lost for the season with a biceps injury. Peters was signed to play right guard after Brandon Brooks was lost for the year after tearing his left Achilles tendon.
Now let's take a look at what the Eagles offense looked like in the fourth quarter of the Week 6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
What Wentz had to work with in Week 6
Previous Starter and Injury
Miles Sanders (knee, Week 6)
DeSean Jackson (hamstring, Week 3)
Jalen Reagor (thumb, Week 2)
Zach Ertz (ankle, Week 6)
Dallas Goedert (ankle, Week 3)
Andre Dillard (biceps, preseason); Jason Peters (toe, Week 3)
Isaac Seumalo (knee, Week 2)
Jason Peters (toe, Week 3); Nate Herbig (moved to left guard); Matt Pryor (illness, Week 5)
Lane Johnson (ankle, Week 4); Jack Driscoll (lower body, Week 6)
- The Eagles had a bevy of injuries on the offensive line, causing serious reshuffling and the signing of players to fill the active roster. Mailata never played an NFL snap before the season and replaced Peters -- who never got to play right guard as projected thanks to Dillard's season-ending injury. Herbig started the year at right guard, but he moved to left guard to compensate for the Seumalo loss. Brown was signed during the season thanks to Herbig moving and the inconsistent play of Pryor, adding more depth to the guard position. Toth was signed to the practice squad this week to back up Driscoll after Johnson was going to be out with an ankle injury that has bothered him all season. Driscoll ended up leaving Sunday's game with an injury.
- Sanders left Sunday's loss with a knee injury and Ertz with an ankle injury, forcing the Eagles to have Boston Scott and Corey Clement split the carries at running back. With Ertz out, the Eagles had to play Croom behind Rodgers -- Croom was signed to the team's practice squad earlier in the week, elevated to the active roster and caught a touchdown pass in the loss.
- Reagor, Goedert, Peters, and Seumalo are on injured reserve while Jackson has been "week-to-week" with the hamstring injury. Jeffery has yet to make his season debut as he's still recovering from the Lisfranc injury from last December.
Wentz and Kelce are the only two starters from training camp that are still playing on offense, yet the Eagles are averaging 27.3 points over their last three games. Philadelphia is still in the bottom 10 in yards per game over that stretch, but the Eagles faced three of the top-10 defenses in points and yards allowed over the past three weeks (San Francisco, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh). The Eagles scored 29 points against the No. 2 ranked scoring defense (Pittsburgh) and 28 points against the No. 1 ranked scoring defense (Baltimore), making the offensive output even more impressive.
As for Wentz, the completion percentage isn't high (54.7%), but he has four touchdowns to two interceptions over the last two games -- with one of those interceptions coming on a desperation heave on fourth-and-20 late in the Week 5 loss to Pittsburgh. The Eagles trailed 31-14 and 30-14 in the second half of both contests and still had an opportunity to win both games, a testament to the resilience of the offense -- specifically Wentz.
"Carson is the type of guy that's going to put the team on his back, and especially when we are faced with adversity. He wants the ball in his hands all the time," said Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. "For this team to hang together on the sideline, to not point fingers, to battle, to be in this position with all the mistakes that were made in the first half, really offensively and then we missed the kick, the field goal at the end of the half, those are the differences in games. Those are things that we're going to learn from and we're going to get better from. So I'm proud of the guys for the way they battled today."
The Eagles are what their record says they are -- 1-4-1 -- but played well against the NFL's elite defense despite the hand they were dealt. As long as Wentz remains on the field, Philadelphia has a chance to win -- and perhaps steal the NFC East title in the process.