Philadelphia Eagles: Remembering Carson Wentz’s fantastic 2017 run

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

As far as I can tell, Carson Wentz is still a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Will he be tomorrow, five months from now, or even five hours from now? I have absolutely no clue – heck, he may be being traded right now as we speak- but as of this very second, probably, he’s an Eagle for better or worse.

And while Wentz is still an Eagle, for however long that may be, it feels only right to think back on the good old days when Philadelphia not only fielded the best football team in the league but were the proud employers of arguably the best young quarterback in the NFL.

It was just the third anniversary of that fateful day in February of 2018; it only feels right.

Carson Wentz had one of the best seasons in Philadelphia Eagles history in 2017.

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Before there was Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, or even Trevor Lawrence, there was Carson James Wentz.

A little known FCS prospect outside of hardcore draft enthusiasts, Wentz was technically born in South Carolina but grew up a Vikings fan in Bismark, North Dakota, mere miles away from his future college home.

Lauded for his rocket arm, impeccable intelligence, and ability to call the game from the line of scrimmage like a Missouri Valley Peyton Manning, Wentz became the highest drafted player in FCS history when the Eagles traded up not once but twice to procure his services with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Was the move a tad risky? Most definitely. No one really knew who the Los Angeles Rams were taking first overall – except for pretty much every outside observer – and FCS quarterbacks don’t exactly have a fantastic track record at the NFL-level. But after being pushed aside for a single year of Chip Kelly at GM, featuring the controversial decision to swap homegrown draftee Nick Foles to those very same Rams for Sam Bradford, Howie Roseman was ready to get his guy and land a franchise quarterback.

And as a rookie, Wentz certainly flashed promise that Roseman’s evaluation was spot on.

Now granted, the Birds weren’t particularly good that season, due in large part to – get this – bad wide receiver play, but Wentz started every game and propelled his team to a 7-9 record. Wentz came out of the gates hot, recorded three straight wins to open up the season, including a dominant performance against the Pittsburg Steelers, before ultimately cooling off in the middle of the season. Though Wentz and company would go on to lose nine of their next 11 contests, it’s hard to call the season anything other than a success, as Wentz surpassed 300-plus passing yards four times and closed on the year on a high note with a pair of wins versus their division rival New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys respectably.

Had Wentz continued on that track and developed into a top-15ish starter in 2017, the growing consensus that he was the Eagles’ best long-term answer under center since Donovan McNabb would have been justified. What they got, however, was oh so much more.

To call 2017 a successful season for Wentz would be an understatement. We’re talking about a quarterback who won 11 games in 13 contests and averaged 253 yards through the air every time he took the field, all the while recording an incredible 33-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

After dropping a Week 2 heartbreaker to Andy Reid and his Kansas City Cheifs, Wentz elevated the Eagles to heights fans around these parts hadn’t seen since Big Red’s walrus mustache was perched under a midnight green cap on the sidelines of the Linc. He blew out the Cardinals, blew out the Cowboys, and blew out the Bears. Wentz, Doug Pederson, and company put up 30-plus points on seven occasions and even dropped 51 on the Denver Broncos; the most points the team had scored in a single game since Week 16 of the 2013 NFL season.

Truly the Philadelphia Eagles were flying high when they touched down in Los Angeles for their second stop of a West Coast roadie, with the national spotlight locked in for a legendary one-two QB battle royal of the 2016 NFL Draft.

To paraphrase Dr. Dealgood from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, “Two will enter; one will leave.

… well, sort of.

In a game where Wentz made any comparisons between himself and Jarden Goff look goofy, disaster struck the then-second-year quarterback when he suffered a torn ACL on a touchdown run that was ultimately called back due to a holding call on Lane Johnson. Had Wentz exited the game then and there, no one would have blamed him; heck, if anything, that would have been the responsible thing to do. But that wasn’t in the cards for number 11 – not that day.

No, whether he knew the writing was on the wall or not, Wentz finished out the drive, threw a touchdown basically on one leg, and exited to the locker room with his team up 31-28.

For me at least, that still image will go down as the lasting memory of the Carson Wentz-era of Philadelphia Eagles football.

From there, well, you know what happened from there. The Eagles won the Super Bowl, Wentz (and Foles) returned in 2018 and remained the team’s primary signal-caller until he was eventually supplanted by Jalen Hurts in Week 14 in a last-ditch effort by Pederson to save an otherwise lost season. Though he never quite returned to his 2017 heights, for one reason or another, Wentz built up a cult following in South Philly that will surely live on for decades to come, all the while leaving more questions than answers over his maddening brief tenure with the team.

“What if Wentz never got hurt in 2017? What if Wentz never got hurt in 2018? What if Roseman actually gave Wentz a viable supporting cast ever? What if Frank Reich was never hired by the Colts? Heck, what if Pederson replaced Reich with a legit offensive coordinator when he did leave? What if the Eagles never drafted Hurts?”

But now, with Wentz reportedly on his way out, we have a new question that will forever go unanswered: What if the Philadelphia Eagles would have started the Nick Sirianni-era with number 11 under center?

Next. Two trade destinations emerging for Carson Wentz. dark

So Carson Wentz, thank you for everything you brought to our fair city. Though your time with the Philadelphia Eagles was clearly shorter than anyone would have liked, it’s hard to argue that your tenure wasn’t supremely successful. Without you, Nick Foles wouldn’t be a Super Bowl MVP, Doug Pederson wouldn’t be a published author, and the City of Brotherly Love wouldn’t have finally thrown a parade down Broad Street the likes of which some fans had waited a half-century to experience. That will forever cement your legacy in the City of Brotherly Love.