Injuries are already adding up—
Kicker Caleb Sturgis injured his hip early in the season opener against Washington on Sunday and is expected to miss time. A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Sturgis is expected to miss four weeks. Pederson said the Eagles will work out kickers this week.
You already knew about cornerback Ron Darby’s injury—the MRI revealed that his dislocated ankle will not require surgery.
But I am extremely suspicious of the prognosis coming from team sources saying doctors believe he is in a 4-6 week timeframe to rehab and return. The team has encouraged Darby to get a second opinion, and Darby is expected to see Dr. Robert Anderson, a foot and ankle orthopedic specialist in Charlotte, North Carolina, the source added.
If that’s a 4-6 week comeback injury, I’ll eat my hat. No way Darby is even remotely ready to play again before Thanksgiving Day…or possibly Christmas.
But Leo Pizzini, he of the original Founding Fodders of this column, politely disagrees with me. Leo has seen injuries like this up close, and to paraphrase, he believes Darby will be back in form in less than 4 weeks.
Maybe Leo’s right, maybe I am simply projecting my own vulnerability upon Darby’s situation. I know it took me 8 months to rebound from what amounted to a hip dislocation. Of course I am 40 years older than Darby, so that could be a mitigating factor in Darby’s recovery prognosis. 8 months later and I am just now ready to start running again. Darby has a much higher recovery ratio.
But Leo is an experienced football player at a high collegiate level, so I guess I should defer to his opinion on Darby’s injury. Leo has seen young guys who all of a sudden looked down and saw the bottom of their cleats sticking up in their faces, and yet they made a 4-6 week turnaround.
From Leo’s lips to God’s Ears, I guess…
Anyway, I want to talk about Carson Wentz’ continuing development as the Eagles’ franchise QB…
Billy Barnwell of ESPN.com had some choice criticisms of Carson Wentz’ performance against the Redskins:
“The most memorable moment to come out of Sunday’s games was the incredible touchdown pass Wentz threw to Nelson Agholor. You’ve seen it already, but Wentz’s ability to elude pressure from the pocket and escape to safety before finding and firing a strike to an open receiver downfield was positively Russell Wilson-esque. Everything from the footwork to the consistent vision looking downfield was textbook. You couldn’t ask for more out of Wentz than you got on that play.”
“Wentz’s numbers, by the end of the day, were pretty: He finished 26-of-39 for 307 yards with two touchdowns, although the second-year passer also threw in an interception, a lost fumble (of sorts) and a couple of passes which the announcing crew characterized as near-picks.”
“While Wentz turned the ball over twice, he’s not entirely at blame for the giveaways. The pick-six he threw to Ryan Kerrigan was tipped slightly by Stacy McGee at the line of scrimmage, and the lost “fumble” was a backward swing pass that Agholor couldn’t hold on to. Wentz deserves some of the blame for a throw that wasn’t easy for his oft-criticized receiver to bring in, but Agholor was only put under pressure to make the catch because Torrey Smith whiffed on his attempt to block Kendall Fuller and then basically stood up and watched as Washington recovered the fumble.”
“Smith was at fault there, but Wentz might have cost Smith one of the biggest games of his career. Multiple times, Smith got open for what might have been a long touchdown, but Wentz missed on his pass. Wentz’s first throw of the game was a play-action pass with a seven-step drop and a bomb to Smith, who ran by Josh Norman, but Wentz underthrew the pass and Norman nearly picked it off.”
“Later, in the fourth quarter, coach Doug Pederson went back to the well and got Smith matched up against Norman, who never really shadowed Alshon Jeffery across the field despite the pregame hype. Smith ran by Norman for what should have been a long touchdown, but this time, Wentz overthrew his new wideout by 2 yards.”
“In between, Wentz left another would-be touchdown on the field with a poor pass, this time to Agholor. Pederson brought Agholor in motion for a would-be jet sweep but then sent him back out from where he came after the snap on a wheel route for what should have been an easy score, given that Washington had essentially vacated that entire side of the field and pushed D.J. Swearinger up toward the line of scrimmage. Wentz’s pass was behind Agholor, who had to make a one-handed catch to bring the ball in and pick up a first down.”
Okay, the QB was far from perfect… But I liked his accuracy on intermediate routes and also his ability to read pressures that were coming hard and fast and bounce off of them. He’s probably going to improve upon his downfield vision sooner than later given a slightly better protection scheme.
Maybe the real key to Wentz’ success going forward is to get him a solid running game to provide an extra shock absorber to his passing lane reads. A little better cohesion factor on the offensive line would help, too.
I was never a big fan of “run for your life” quarterbacking… but at least this young version of Carson Wentz has proven up to this point he can handle the pressure when things get crazy.
You are rooting for this kid right now because of his warrior mindset. At this level the game is 90% mental. Wentz is proving he is an NFL scholar under pressure as far as I can tell.
Yes, mistakes will be made… but Wentz seems to have the panache to shake off the errors, and move on to the next play. I like that in a young QB. It’s something that’s more inbred than taught.