PHILADELPHIA-It's doubtful the throws Carson Wentz was making-or attempting-for much of Sunday's first half would have been terribly effective for North Dakota State last season, taking on Southern Illinois or Western Illinois or South Dakota State.
Maybe Philadelphia Eagles scouts would have been nervous if they'd seen it in the Senior Bowl. Eagles fans definitely would have been freaked out if they'd seen it in the opener.
"He might have been pressing a little bit early, trying to make that one play,'' Eagles Doug Pederson said after his Eagles claimed a 21-10 win over the previously unbeaten Minnesota Vikings.
"I've got to be smarter with the football,'' Wentz said.
At this point, six games into an NFL career, nobody can be surprised by the rest of what Pederson said. Carson's struggling? All right, Carson's struggling. It's not a civic emergency.
"I love the way he settled in-there was no panic in him,'' Pederson said.
Sunday's first half was about as ragged as ragged gets. If Wentz wasn't throwing badly into triple coverage, he was behind his receivers or wide of them completely. The Eagles talked about how the Vikings do a great job of disguising blitzes and changing up coverages, that they came in undefeated for a reason.
Wentz was off. His first four drives were three-and-out, interception, Wentz fumble, interception. His dismal 12.5 passing rating in the first half was the statistical result of 9 of 20 completions, for 53 yards, including a long pass of 14 yards, plus the two interceptions.
A 98-yard kickoff return by Josh Huff produced more points and almost as many yards as the 32 Eagles first-half offensive plays, good for 107 yards.
"For me, it's short-term memory," Wentz said. "You've got to move on, you've got to make the next throw. You can't dwell on it. If you dwell on it in this league, it's just going to bite you in the rear."
Wentz again was comfortable with play calls that called for him to hit a receiver or throw it away. A bobbled snap that forced him to turn a run-pass option into a run didn't faze him, not even on fourth and 2. Wentz ran for 6 yards, setting up a field goal.
"Had to improvise," Wentz said.
In the third quarter, game still up for grabs, Wentz threw four passes, completed each, hit Dorial Green-Beckham by the goal line for a 5-yard score, and had a QB rating of 158.3.
Pederson also praised Wentz for how he managed the running game. That became more of the offense as the game wore on with a lead.
"I don't want to overload him," the Eagles coach said. "I think he's in a good spot mentally with the offense."
"When we're up in a ball game, we still have all our offense," Wentz said. "We're moving the pocket, we're doing a bunch of different things. It keeps a defense on their toes. When we're down and trying to fight back, that's when those D-ends and those D-linemen can really pin their ears back and rush. For us, to be in the situation we were in, to be able to control the clock, to be able to control our offense and just run our game, I think was huge for us."
Wentz was asked what the issues were with a few bobbled and fumbled snaps.
"Not really sure," Wentz said. "Some of them, I've got to clean up. I've got to catch the ball, for starters. Some were a little off. Those things, we've got to clean up. Don't put too much stock in 'em. [Center Jason] Kelce and I have had a good connection. I think we'll be fine with them."
As things wound down, two guys in Wentz jerseys shook the hand of a guy in a Vick jersey as they left their seats. On the sideline, Wentz walked around wearing an Eagles ball cap, smiling, relaxed.
"We found a way," he said later.
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