What, exactly, is left to question?
If the Eagles aren’t the class of the NFL, what team is?
If Carson Wentz, the most important player on the best team, isn’t the MVP favorite after seven games, what player is?
Wentz threw four touchdown passes and ripped off two career-defining runs in a signature comeback win, 34-24, which moved the Eagles to 6-1, the only one-loss team in the league and the only one with Wentz. Just 23 games into his NFL career his progress defies any logical explanation. He’s reading defenses and making passes and grinding out runs like … well, like nobody else, because there hasn’t been anybody quite like him; not with his size, speed, athleticism, and intelligence.
He is the linchpin of the most compelling Eagles team since 2004, which is the last time they won as many as six of their first seven games. After that start they eventually found themselves playing in Jacksonville, Fla. on Feb. 6.
If Super Bowl talk seems premature, well, why? That was Donovan McNabb’s best season, but Wentz is playing just as well, with lesser weapons. McNabb lacked the advantages Wentz enjoys; namely, running a pro-style offense in college, then, after being drafted, falling in with a gang of quarterbacks coaches who speed his development every waking second. The Wentz Wagon is a real and powerful vehicle.
As for the Eagles in their entirety: What more can they prove?
They’ve won after a long layoff on short rest. They’ve won on the West Coast and they’ve won down south. They lost in the Midwest, but, five weeks later, that Kansas City team seems inferior to this Philadelphia one.
They’ve won in prime time, on Thursday night and on Monday night. In three weeks, at Dallas, they’ll have a chance to win on Sunday night. They could probably win wearing sunglasses at night.
“The bulls-eye on our back just gets bigger,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after the win.
Early on Monday night the Eagles looked as bad as they have in any span of Pederson’s two seasons; but better bad early than late. After the poor start they affected a 21-point turnaround in 11 minutes, 37 seconds of game time, in the meat of the contest, where heart and brains are measured best.
They spent the much of the first 12 minutes victims of disorganization, decimation and retribution.
Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks lasted just two plays and outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks didn’t play at all. They were called for four penalties on offense before they gained a yard (This came after Eagles Nation spent 11 days disparaging Pete Morelli, whose officiating crew buried the Eagles under yellow flags in their previous game, in Charlotte. This might have been a coincidence, if you ignore human nature).
After a short running play Wentz, on second down, threw an interception.
But they never quailed. They took the measure of their opponent, regrouped, rebounded and wreaked havoc; turned a seven-point deficit into a 14-point lead.
They didn’t wilt after the interception, and they didn’t crumble when Wentz took three bad sacks; in fact, the second one preceded the Eagles’ first score, which was a tying field goal. The third one preceded Wentz’s 64-yard touchdown pass to rookie Mack Hollins that tied the game at 10 and gave the Eagles the momentum — momentum that carried them through a 2-minute TD drive which saw Wentz hit Zach Ertz for 41 yards then, with 22 ticks in the half, for 4 yards, a TD and a 17-10 lead.
They didn’t fall apart when, on the third play of the third quarter, they lost Jason Peters, their future Hall of Fame left tackle, whose right knee collapsed under the 305-pound bulk of tumbling nose tackle Ziggy Hood. Peters rolled off on a cart, Halapoulivaati Vaitai strolled in and took over. Yawn.
Wentz highlighted that drive with a designed, 21-yard run, followed by a 21-yard pass to Ertz, capped with a feathery, 9-yard touchdown touch pass to running back Corey Clement, one toenail from being out of bounds. Wentz threw that one as Mason Foster put his shoulder in Wentz’s sternum with every intention of crushing Wentz’s ribcage.
That didn’t happen. Instead, when Washington replied with a TD of their own, Wentz mystified the defense again, escaping a sack for a 17-yard Houdini run that set up a 10-yard TD to Nelson Agholor. That’s the play that will earn Wentz MVP talk in the coming weeks, as it should.
It’s the sort of play made by MVPs, on excellent teams, in prime time.
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