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Carson Wentz, No. 11 [Image By Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]

Carson Wentz, No. 11 [Image By Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]

The quarterback situation for the Eagles was hectic heading into last season; Chase Daniel was signed to a lucrative deal, Carson Wentz was drafted 2nd overall in the 2016 Draft, and incumbent Sam Bradford was coming off a season in which he failed to put up 20 touchdown passes. An argument could have been made for any of the three passers to start in 2016. Eagles fans know what happened next: Bradford gets traded, Wentz gets the call to start, Daniel holds the clipboard.

No such controversy in 2017: Wentz is the guy. But that does not mean the position is without intrigue heading into Organized Team Activities in Mid-April. Eagles fans everywhere remain cautiously optimistic about Wentz’s development, and if he will take the next step in 2017. But what is a realistic expectation for the second-year QB?

To start, let’s look at Wentz’s 2016 numbers: 3,782 yards, 16-14 TD to interception ratio, 62.4% completion percentage, 7-9 record. On the surface, there isn’t a lot to be excited about. Wentz threw a pick for nearly every TD he tossed, and put up a very pedestrian completion percentage. In fact, his numbers are eerily similar to Bradford’s 2015 stats; which, to be honest, no one in Philly was excited about.

So what makes Eagles fans believe? Why are we so high on Wentz? To start, he finally has weapons to throw to. The signings of Alshon Jefffery and Torrey Smith give Wentz some much needed size and speed in the receiving corps. Wentz throws a beautiful deep ball, but was largely unable to make use of it, due to the lack of speed on the outside. Torrey Smith ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds. He’s fast.

Jeffery will be a huge asset everywhere on the field, but nowhere more noticeable than in the redzone. Wentz completed just 47.2% of his passes side the 20, well below the league average of 52.7%. In the redzone, where there is much less space for players to operate, the addition of 6’3 Jeffery should help Wentz improve on that number.

Another reason for optimism: Lane Johnson is here to stay (hopefully). In 2016, Lane Johnson was issued a 10-game suspension for his PED use. Wentz was significantly better with his Right Tackle on the field.

Wentz numbers with Johnson versus without:

2016 Season

With Lane Johnson (6 gms)

Without Lane Johnson (10 gms)

Yards/Game

234

237.8

TD-INT

10-2

6-12

Completion %

64.9

61.2

Sacked

9

24

W-L Record

5-1

2-8

Wentz’s yards per game were similar, but his other numbers took a drastic hit; as did Wentz himself. The offensive line allowed nearly a full sack more per game without the Right Tackle. What stands out though is the record: 5-1 with Johnson on the field. If he can get his head on straight, Wentz and the Eagles may find success this year.

While there are a lot of reasons for Eagles fans to believe, expectations should be dialed back a bit. There were times last year that Wentz struggled with his accuracy. In a game against the Giants in week 9, Wentz threw one of the worst picks of the season, severely overthrowing Nelson Agholor. On the next drive, he again overthrew his target, leading to a second interception. New receivers aren’t going to help Wentz if his accuracy doesn’t markedly improve.

Another cause for concern: who’s going to run the ball? Last year, defenses did not pay much attention to the running game of the Eagles. Sproles was good, but was under-utilized as a rusher, and Ryan Mathews didn’t exactly have defenses shaking in their cleats.

Opposing defenses could focus more on the passing game of the Eagles, and did a nice job of taking away weapons from Wentz. This gave time for the pass rush of the opponent to disrupt Wentz and force bad throws, or bring him down for the sack.

In free agency, the Eagles paid little attention to the running back position, though it should be noted that there are still some big-name rushers left on the market. Look for the Eagles to address the position soon, likely in the upcoming draft.

Wentz showed a lot in his rookie season; toughness, high football IQ, good arm, and a desire to win by any means necessary. Keep in mind that everything the rookie did last year, he did with almost no preseason experience, due to a fractured rib. Now, with a full season behind him, he looks to take the Eagles to new heights. There is reason to believe in Philly again.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know on Twitter: @ZachBonanno

Zach Bonanno

Zach is a Staff Writer at DoubleGSports.com.
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