I am a Carson Wentz guy. I figured he would be a factor in the MVP race. I thought the Eagles would compete for a Super Bowl. Things are not going as I expected.

For the second straight week, Wentz left me underwhelmed, even with the limitations of the Eagles’ offense given the lack of healthy wide receivers. Once again, he seemed off to me. He missed too many easy throws (I am aware it was a windy day, but he was all over the place at times and never appeared totally settled or comfortable to me). He forced balls and telegraphed too many throws and his four turnovers undermined any chance the Eagles had to knock off the Seahawks at home.

It’s all giving me a little pause. I still believe Wentz is an upper echelon QB with the potential to be truly transcendent, but, lately, with his team needing him most while injuries mount, he’s looked more like Jared Goff than Russell Wilson. He’s looked more like a QB who needs to have everything else around him in place in order to hit the heights.

He does not appear to be someone who could carry this particular team through any sort of January gauntlet if he had to. He very well may be far less than 100 percent healthy himself. His QB rating the last two weeks is 62.35. I get that they aren’t pushing the ball downfield that much, with the offensive line beat up and him lacking proven outside receivers – but the short and intermediate passing must be more crisp, and this team needs to establish some positive momentum ASAP.

Now at 5-6, the margin for error is slim. Beating Dallas is a must, and cleaning up on the also-rans the schedule features down the stretch (Washington, Giants, Miami, Giants again). They cannot slip up at this point, and it’s time for Wentz to make the kind of late-season power moves that his former backup, Nick Foles, used to write himself into Philadelphia sports lore. If nothing else, the turnovers have to cease. It’s time to seize the opportunity.

Far too many QBs aren’t ready for late-season push

The 1 p.m. ET slate of games was pretty rough from a quarterbacking standpoint, and the deeper we get into the season the tougher it is to win with less talented QBs. That’s just how it goes. A lot of these guys were, frankly, a tough watch. And for every Kyle Allen, a novice QB who made a great statement by shaking off his recent woes to play well enough for the Panthers to pull off an upset of the Saints (though they fell just short), there was a bevy of others who remained mired in mediocrity, and well, even more for whom mediocrity would be a welcome accomplishment.

It always seems to me that by the time we hit Thanksgiving teams separate and the best quarterbacks have their teams in position to thrive. It’s one thing to be hot for a month or a half season, but by Week 12 there is a distinct playoff vibe, and, on Sunday afternoon, there were far too many guys under center who are not close to being ready for primetime.

Mason Rudolph got benched at the halftime, mercifully, by Mike Tomlin in a desperate move that I fully applaud; Duck Hodges pulled off an ugly win and should remain the starter. But for the Steelers, without Big Ben everything is going to be a struggle. We got treated to Dwayne Haskins (who did rally in the fourth quarter to earn his first win) and Jeff Driskell and Brandon Allen and Mitchell Trubisky and Daniel Jones and Ryan Fitzpatrick and, once Derek Carr was pulled from the Raiders blowout loss, we got a rare glimpse at Mike Glennon actually playing football, too. Lest I leave out rookie Ryan Finley, who I guarantee you will be replaced next season by whichever QB the Bengals select first overall (Joe Burrow, come on down!). Heck Jameis Winston, hellbent on turnovers the last four years, was one of the standouts of the 1 p.m. window.

The storyline of ‘The Year Of The Backup QB’ has been fun and all, but we’re about to see the same ‘ol same ‘ol, by and large, back on the biggest stage with the postseason looming (save for a Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen). That’s how it works. It’s a quarterback driven league and the best will still be standing when we get to the second season.

More insider notes from Week 12

  • The Panthers defense did a great job of tightening up in the second half at New Orleans, but the damage was already done. They entered this game allowing 32 points per game over the past four games, and that rose after a 34-31 defeat. Head coach Ron Rivera is in charge of that side of the ball. It’s not going well and with four losses in five games, the odds continue to increase of owner David Tepper making big changes come January … 
  • Keep an eye on Detroit if the Lions have another poor outing on Thanksgiving against the rival Bears. They are trending in the wrong direction in myriad ways, ownership’s frustration is growing and on Sunday they found a way to lose to a broken Skins team that had not won at home in over a year. A loss Thursday would drop them to 3-8-1, with a long break before their next game. Remember, this was a playoff team not that long ago under Jim Caldwell …
  • So much for a running back being able to transform a franchise. It was another less-than-pedestrian day for Saquon Barkley and the failing Giants, who dropped their seventh straight game. Drafting a running back that high when the team was broken at all crucial positions at the time (QB, LT, Edge) never made much sense. Since returning from injury, Barkley has all of 224 rushing yards and 1 TD in five games, averaging a paltry 2.77 yards per carry in that span. Yikes. Sure, the offensive line and limited pass game play a role … but that’s why you don’t use a top five pick on a running back on a rebuilding team … 
  • Tell me again why Gardner Minshew lost his job to Nick Foles? There is not a logical reason except that the team just gave Foles $50M guaranteed – which as I have been predicting for weeks, they’ll end up trying to peddle for pennies on the dollar in the offseason, anyway. Let Minshew continue to grow and develop. Your season is over, anyway …
  • Since Baker Mayfield stopped turning the ball over in droves, the Browns have stabilized and salvaged their season. Even with an easy schedule ahead, I still don’t think they get in the playoffs (the loss of Myles Garrett is huge), but they have a very real chance to finish above .500. They sweep the Steelers and I’ll reconsider. Either way, kudos on turning things around … 
  • Speaking of turning it around, the Seahawks defense has gotten much better on the fly the last few weeks and if that keeps up they are going to win the NFC West – by more than a game. Look out 49ers … 
  • A year ago Gregg Williams had an incredible second half as the Browns interim head coach, leading them to an improbable 5-2 finish. It’s happening again, this time as the Jets defensive coordinator, with that unit playing unreal the past month and New York climbing back to respectability. Helluva job with that unit … 
  • Denver had 134 yards of total offense and is now 3-8. I still believe that situation bears serious monitoring come January. Is this the staff best suited to trying to break in Drew Lock? … 
  • The Falcons remembered who they were on Sunday. That was what the defense looked like in the first half, with free runners and balls sailing all over, and after a two week hiatus the Bucs chucked it all over the place on them on Sunday. They’ve lost four straight at home, again, in that beautiful football palace Arthur Blank had built for them just a few years ago. No way status quo can fly another year.