Can Carson Wentz Escape The Pressure Of The NFC East?
By Matt Giraldi
“Pressure? What would you know about pressure?”
Carson Wentz is facing immense amounts of pressure in his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles. In the NFC East, Wentz is looking like he’s under the least amount of scrutiny however. Whether it’s peddling fake merchandise from Eli Manning or fake autographs with Dak Prescott, accusations off the football field are heating up. Then there’s Kirk Cousins and his eternal desire to obtain long-term security in the NFL.
Wentz has done a terrific job staying out of the limelight. Playing for a city like Philadelphia, that’s probably for the best. With Wentz, pressure continues to remain on the field on Sundays, rather than a weeknight at 3:30 a.m. Imagine the reactions if Wentz was stopped on the Walt Whitman Bridge for speeding and had a 9-mm gun and marijuana in his possession.
Local sports talk radio would undoubtedly tip 110 decibels in a cascade of criticism, complaints and vitriol. Bar talk would once again fault Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman for selling the farm for Wentz. The beautiful part of this hypothetical is that it seems beyond far-fetched for the type of person Wentz has shown to be thus far. As for Josh Huff however…
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For the other quarterbacks in the NFC East though, the media is taking a page out of Wentz’s playbook and going hunting.
The aforementioned Prescott and Manning are facing immense pressure to remedy their off-field accusations. Imagine what will happen if either accusation carries any legitimacy. Chances are they will both face the wrath of Roger Goodell soon thereafter.
For Prescott, he has been accused of distributing automated autographs for Panini America, a trading card company located in Irving, Texas. As other members of the Dallas Cowboys have come to realize, when you play for “America’s Team”, any slight is going to be magnified. Prescott, who only has one (redacted) blip on his radar previously, is now coming to that realization as well.
Manning faces a similar situation with his accused wrongdoing. Making his first playoff start in five years last season, Manning is trying to bounce back from a mediocre performance against Green Bay in their Wild Card weekend loss. Adding a guy like Brandon Marshall gets good marks from pundits for on-field prognostications, but if things go sour on the Giants, good luck keeping the locker room in check. Keeping Marshall and Odell Beckham Jr. in check is going to be one tall task for Eli and the Giants.
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Cousins meanwhile is once again in a one year prove it deal. What could possibly go wrong for a team that lost it’s two most targeted receivers this offseason? Losing Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson means the Redskins lose 214 targets, 2046 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns. Cousins will be relying heavily on still unproven receivers Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder. All while hoping that Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson can stay off the trainer’s table. Unfortunately for Cousins, the biggest issue will continue to be his contract.
This doesn’t mean that Wentz isn’t under the gun as well. When you’re a starting quarterback selected with the second overall pick, you need to perform immediately. Last season, when Lane Johnson was active, Wentz was phenomenal. Over the first four games, Wentz completed 67.41% of his passes for 1007 yards, seven touchdowns, and only one interception. The final two games of the season saw Wentz continue his late season rebound. He completed only 59.7% of his passes, however he had just one interception.
The shiny toys picked up this offseason will make Wentz an easy target for criticism if the team falters. Fortunately for Wentz and the Eagles, while the other quarterbacks in the division are dealing with off-field issues, Wentz and company can focus on the mission ahead. From the looks of it, they did just that in Fargo, ND. In a week, it will be time to do it in Philadelphia, PA.