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When a starting NFL quarterback goes down with a season-ending injury, the backup isn’t supposed to step in and lead a game-winning 4th quarter drive. That same backup quarterback also shouldn’t be able to throw for 4 TDs and 0 INTs the following week, even if it IS against perhaps the most porous pass defense in the league in the New York Giants.

Nick Foles immediate success following Carson Wentz’s season-ending injury begs the question: Is Carson Wentz elite, or is he simply a competent quarterback thriving in an elite Philadelphia Eagles system?

Let’s start by comparing the stats from the starts of Nick Foles and Carson Wentz’s careers.

Nick Foles

Att Cmp % TD TD Adj INT INT Adj P Yds P Yds Adj P Yds/Att Rush Yds Rush TD
1,230 60.2 53 45 27 23 8,805 7495 7.2 351 5

Carson Wentz

Att Cmp % TD TD Adj INT INT Adj P Yds P Yds Adj P Yds/Att Rush Yds Rush TD
1,047 61.5 49 49 21 21 7078 7078 6.8 449 2

*Note: The TD Adj, INT Adj, and Pass Yds Adj numbers for Foles refer to Foles TD, INT, and Pass Yards numbers after they are adjusted to fit the same number of Pass Attempts of Carson Wentz.

No matter how you slice the numbers, Nick Foles and Carson Wentz have had roughly the same level of success over their first 1,000 odd passing attempts. You can certainly argue Wentz’s numbers are better if you look at Completion %, TD/INT ratio, and Rush Yards. Foles’ Yards/Attempt number, however, is better than Wentz’s. When you push the ball down the field more, as Foles did, you’re going to throw more interceptions.

So, am I saying Carson Wentz isn’t elite? Yes, I am. Duh! No quarterback can be considered elite in less than 2 seasons at the helm. There are far too many factors we need to consider, many of which are time-dependent before we can even attempt to make such a claim.

Before we get too far along, let’s establish what “Elite NFL Quarterback” actually means. To me, an NFL quarterback must demonstrate the following 3 qualifications in order to be considered elite:

  • Consistently outperform 80% of the quarterbacks in the league

If you do the math, 6 or 7 NFL quarterbacks fit this qualification from year to year. Carson has definitely done this in his 2nd year as he was 1 of the leading candidates for MVP before he tore his ACL. The question is whether he can duplicate this success year after year.

  • Consistently make playoff runs regardless of how good the team is that surrounds you

It’s no secret Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have had some pretty poor defenses over the years, but they continually make the playoffs and win games in the playoffs during those years when the other side of the ball is less than proficient.

  • Win a Super Bowl

To go down as an elite quarterback, you have to win at least 1 championship. Some may say this is a ridiculous requirement. I say elite is elite. Win the whole damn thing if you want that status.

Let’s look at Carson’s roadmap for reaching elite status.

Carson’s Youth

There’s no doubt Wentz has improved from year 1 to year 2. The numbers clearly reflect that. But does anyone really know the ceiling of this kid? No, we don’t. At this point, we simply need to see him play more games. We need to see him win playoff games. We need to see him win a championship.

Can He Stay Healthy?

Wentz has shown he doesn’t fear contact. I don’t know if they publish statistics on “unnecessary hits taken while scrambling.” The quantification is rather abstract. If they do, however, the Carson collision count has to be right up near the top. The key to Carson’s longevity in the league relies heavily on his willingness to take fewer hits. Taking fewer hits will undoubtedly be a point of emphasis from now until he returns sometime next season. Whether the words of his coaches translate into more slides and fewer hits taken is a question only answered in time.

Can He Make And Succeed In The Playoffs With A Lackluster Defense?

Philadelphia’s defense has been a top 10 (or better) defense in each of Wentz’s first 2 seasons, so we simply cannot analyze this yet. At some point during Wentz’s tenure, Philly’s defense will inevitably regress. Can Carson win enough games to make playoff runs during those years? Again, only time will tell.


Provided he makes a full recovery, Wentz will eventually rise to elite status. We know he has the tools. We know he has the work ethic. And I know he’s smart enough to reduce the hits he takes because he and I graduated from the same high school back in Bismarck. Unless anyone knows a good soothsayer, only time can validate my prediction if Carson will go down as an elite quarterback of his era. In my mind, there’s no doubt his legacy will fit that description. I encourage you to hop on the Wentz Wagon, and when the dust settles, the red-haired freckle-faced flamethrower will rank among the best of his time.

Dana Roller

Author Dana Roller

I enjoy writing about sports on my blog at

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