Dallas Cowboys

Eagles’ slide has brought rookie QB Carson Wentz down with it

The Philadelphia Eagles and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz had a hot start but both have dropped off as the season continued.
The Philadelphia Eagles and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz had a hot start but both have dropped off as the season continued. AP

The last time Dallas saw the Philadelphia Eagles, Carson Wentz was getting almost as much positive publicity as Dak Prescott. But a 29-23 overtime loss to the Cowboys began a downward spiral for the Eagles.

Philadelphia is 2-7 in its past nine games as Wentz has suffered some growing pains.

Wentz entered the first game against the Cowboys with a 63.8 completion percentage, eight touchdowns, three interceptions and a 92.7 passer rating. He now has a 62.4 completion percentage, 14 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 78.1 passer rating.

The second overall pick’s 352 completions are a team record for a single-season and only two shy of the NFL rookie record set by Sam Bradford in 2010. Wentz’s 564 attempts are only seven short of Donovan McNabb’s team record for a single season.

“He’s exceeded expectations in some ways,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said Tuesday in quotes distributed by the team. “But I think what you want to see is you want to see accuracy. You want to see good decision-making. You want to see the ability to sustain success when things are going well, to maintain focus and concentration the next week in preparation. You want to see to be able to bounce back after a poor performance. You want to see when things are going bad in the course of a game for him to not waver. I think on most of those fronts, I think he’s passed the test.”

Loss of Mathews

The Eagles celebrated the signings of running back Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray during the 2015 off-season. That high didn’t last long.

Murray left after only one season, and Mathews made it through only two.

Mathews career with the Eagles likely has ended as he has one year left on his contract with a $5 million salary cap number in 2017.

He sustained a herniated disc in his neck during last week’s game against the New York Giants and will require surgery. That will sideline Mathews several months.

The Eagles are left with only Darren Sproles and rookie Byron Marshall, who they promoted from the practice squad last week. They signed Terrell Watson to the practice squad last week.

Mathews rushed for 661 yards and eight touchdowns on 155 carries this season, giving him 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in two seasons in Philadelphia.

Johnson’s return

The Eagles got their right tackle back in the lineup last week. Lane Johnson served a 10-game suspension for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. The Eagles gained 286 yards and beat the Giants 24-17.

Johnson, one of the league’s top right tackles, has allowed no sacks and has earned only one holding penalty in five games.

Rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, a Haltom City and TCU alum, started six games in Johnson’s absence. Vaitai gave up three sacks before injuring an medial collateral ligament against the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 20 and has not played since.

Close losses

Six of the Eagles’ losses came by a total of 25 points. All six were one-score games Philadelphia lost. They finally won a close one last week, beating the Giants 24-19.

The Eagles hope to end the season with a two-game winning streak, giving them momentum into next season.

Charean Williams: 817-390-7760, @NFLCharean

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