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Welcome to Carson Wentz's Wild Ride

To Ralph Vachiano
FOX Sports NFC East Writer

Carson Wentz thought he had scored a touchdown the moment the ball left his hands. Ron Rivera seems to think so too. Neither saw a Titans linebacker who was trying to intercept Wentz and bring the Commander’s season to the brink.

“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster,” Wentz said after Sunday’s game.

Welcome to Carson Wentz’s Wild Ride.

In a very typical Wentz performance, he gave his supporters plenty of fuel before setting the critics on fire. , leading an excellent 17-play, 87-yard drive that put the Commanders on the verge of a stunning come-from-behind win.

His final pass from the 2-yard line was then picked up by linebacker David Long at the goal line, allowing the Titans to escape Washington with a 21-17 win.

As such, the commanders were 1-4 deep underground in NFC East wondering if the season was already lost. Wentz “had his moment,” Rivera said. “There were some things he did really well.”

It’s other things and moments that turn Wentz’s experience into a sometimes nauseating, head-spinning trip.

“I think the quarterback did a good job,” Rivera said Monday afternoon. “There were some games he struggled with…but what was his performance yesterday? there is

Ok, maybe that’s true. But Rivera still had his ears and eyes open Monday when asked why his other NFC East teams seemed to be able to rebuild the franchise faster than his Commanders. , gave an answer that grabs the headline:


Rivera went on to explain that the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys have had more time to build around quarterbacks. This also includes Dallas, where the Cowboys are making his 4-0 run on backup Cooper Rush. Wentz has only been with the commander for seven months.

But Commander’s time is already up in 2022.

Wentz’s struggles against the Eagles and Cowboys, his six interceptions (second-worst in the league) and his game-ending pick on Sunday set alarm bells. It also raised the question of whether the Commanders’ offseason decision to trade Wentz and the $28.2 million salary cap hit was the right decision.

“I have no regrets about being a quarterback,” Rivera said. “We chose him because we believe in him.”

Perhaps they made the decision with their eyes wide open, knowing that the quarterback acquired from the Indianapolis Colts wasn’t always as good as he sometimes thought. It’s true that Wentz can be very, very good when he’s good.

And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday, a game the Commanders absolutely had to win. Playing without their two best targets: rookie receiver Jahan Dotson and tight end Logan Thomas. , unable to advance the running game at all (17 carries, 43 yards), Wentz did everything he could to win the game. He threw two touchdowns to Dotson’s replacement, Daimi Brown.

Ignoring his final pass, his game was spectacular. Of course this is not possible. Rivera isn’t wrong that Long “played badly…he not only jammed Terry (McLaughlin), but he managed to sling himself into the way he played with the ball.”

Rivera also defended Wentz’s decision, saying, “If that’s what you read and that’s the throw you’re going for, it’s a pretty good decision.

But was it true? The play was clearly designed to run back JD McKissick, as Wentz never took his eyes off him. And McKissick, who lined up to Wentz’s left, was certainly open – he wasn’t exactly “wide open,” as Rivera explained after the game. It was about the 2-yard line and was headed for a goal-line clash with Titans cornerback Christian Fulton, who fell a yard deep into the end zone but was rapidly closing in.

It is not at all clear whether McKissic would have scored or had possession if the pass passed. If that’s done and McKissic doesn’t score, the game ends.

However, Long, who was lined up on the inside of McKissick, clearly saw where Wentz was looking, pushed McLoughlin away, and was already leaning in McKissick’s direction, perhaps a yard and a half away, so that Wentz could see where he was looking. It didn’t matter, because it started moving.

Wentz should have seen it? It’s obviously easier to explain the play after watching the movie in slow motion than it is for the quarterback to watch it in real time.Again, Wentz was paid $28.2 million and a quick look at everything to make the right choice.

However, the criticism of Wentz goes beyond just one throw.

The Commanders offense has been in turmoil over the past two weeks, losing to the Eagles and Cowboys. And much of the blame was rightfully placed on the crumbling offensive line — Wentz was sacked 11 times and hit 28 in those games — the quarterback was at least one for holding the ball too much. It deserved some responsibility.

But even on Sunday, when he wasn’t under pressure as often, there was still a disconnect between his final stats and results: The Commanders were a pain 1-11 on third down. On third down he went 3-for-17 for 17 yards, recording one fumble his snap, one sack, and a game-ending interception. Of his three completions, only his one actually came down first, and it was his final drive with 24 seconds to go.

The Commanders also reached the red zone only once in 11 drives — Wentz’s touchdown passes to Brown went for 30 and 75 yards. And on the lone trip to the red zone on the final drive, Wentz was 0-for-3 on that interception, with the Commanders noticing what could have been an uncaught pass on Fulton’s goal line for his pass interference call. Thanks to that, I only reached his line two yards.

Can you see the pattern? Critics of Wentz do. He plays great, but not in the places that matter, especially the real big spots with games looming. This was a criticism Wentz had heard many times before, and he claimed he had learned to handle it better over the years.

“I think it’s about never questioning yourself, never losing confidence, and always trying to be the same,” Wentz says. , no matter what it looks like, always try to be the same… yourself.

For now, he’s also earned the commander’s trust. But how long? Part of the appeal of Commanders’ decision to trade Wentz was that there would be no guaranteed money left in his contract after this season. It means you have to decide if you’re the right quarterback, if you can lead your team to a championship, and if it’s worth keeping in 2023.

However, I will ask these questions later.

For now, Rivera claimed that “you can see some of the commands that Carson has in the game” and that “he’s starting to grasp and feel (attack).” He seems to believe that Wentz will eventually be able to turn the Commander into a competitor.

“The truth is that this is a quarterback-led league,” Rivera said. I made it.

“Now we have a guy who I think has a chance to build.”

Apparently it takes a little longer and can be a very bumpy ride.

Ralph Vacchiano is FOX Sports’ NFC East reporter covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the last six years covering the Giants and Jets on his SNY TV in New York, and for his 16 years prior to that, he covered the Giants and the NFL on the New York Daily News. Follow him on his Twitter: @RalphVacchiano.

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