The excitement around the Philadelphia Eagles is palpable right now. Jalen Hurts has been electric, the defense just shut down a supposedly elite Minnesota Vikings offense on Monday Night Football, and the club is being bandied about as a potential “team to beat” in the NFC as it’s shot to near the top of various power rankings.
Truthfully, this game would have more mojo behind it if it were being played in Philadelphia. But there will no doubt be a throng of Eagles fans making the short journey south this Sunday to cheer on the Birds and, more importantly, lustily boo Carson Wentz. This one has all the makings of a big-time statement game, one way or the other.
The Philadelphia Eagles can prove a point against Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders in Week 3.
If you’re like me, when the Eagles traded Wentz to Indianapolis last year, you no doubt checked to see when their first crack at him would be. Based on the NFL schedule pattern, the Eagles would next take on the Colts in 2022, building the anticipation of “Philly vs. Carson” until his second season in Indy. And while the Eagles will still meet the Colts this season, fate intervened in the form of an embarrassing late-season collapse last year. This led to Wentz being traded back to the NFC East, where we will see him take on the Birds twice a year for the immediate future, at least until he flames out yet again. And so it begins.
Wentz got off to a typical slow start in the Commanders’ Week 2 loss at Detroit and, although he came alive in the second half, his team’s 22-0 deficit at the half was just too much to overcome. The Eagles, meanwhile, showed themselves capable of moving the ball early and establishing their dominance in their victory over Minnesota. Expect more of the same this week, as they build a first-half lead and put the pressure on Carson.
Washington has been gouged in the running game over the first two weeks of the season, to the tune of a league-worst 7.5 yards per carry against them. And it hasn’t just been weird situations like a receiver breaking off a big gain on an end-around to skew the stats. The running backs that the Commanders have faced in their first two games (James Robinson, Travis Etienne, D’Andre Swift, and Jamaal Williams) have all averaged at least 4.4 yards per attempt, suggesting that Washington is having difficulty with all styles of runners. They’re really missing Chase Young along their D-front, and the Eagles’ versatile backs should benefit greatly.
On the flip side, the Eagles are coming off a shutdown performance against Dalvin Cook, a superior back to anyone that the Commanders feature. The ground game will be no help to Washington on Sunday. Instead, they’ll have to lean heavily on Wentz to try and pull this one off, but it’s not going to happen.
While he does have a decent stable of receivers to spread the ball around to, Carson Wentz has a tendency to hold the ball too long (and not throw it away when necessary), and the Eagles can exploit that. We are all well aware that Wentz possesses the ability to take over a game; the guy is still talented. But this just feels like the kind of situation where he will attempt to do too much, which should swing things in the Birds’ favor.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, the parties involved are saying all the right things. But you know, deep down, this is personal. The result of this game doesn’t stand to completely justify one “side” or the other. It’s just one snapshot in a long season, one that will include a rematch in Week 10. But it will most definitely feel good for the Eagles to dish out a loss to a divisional foe.
In the end, expect the Eagles to punish Carson Wentz and company, en route to their first 3-0 start since 2016 when they were led by – you guessed it – Wentz himself in his rookie season. The Birds will win this game 30-16, and it might not even feel that close. I would say “better luck, next time” to Carson, but that would be insincere.