- Carson Wentz now leads the NFL in touchdown passes as he has taken a big step forward in Year 2. The Browns once again look like a train wreck. The Browns could have drafted Wentz in 2016 but traded the pick away instead.
The Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles are headed in opposite directions, and a big reason appears to be Carson Wentz.
On Monday night, Wentz led the Eagles to a rousing 34-24 win over the Washington Redskins, throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns while completing 68% of his passes.
The win moved the Eagles to an NFL-best 6-1, while Wentz now leads the league in touchdowns.
And he could have been the Browns’ quarterback, a decision that looks increasingly disastrous for Cleveland.
Before the 2016 draft, the Browns and the Eagles completed a blockbuster trade in which the Eagles sent four draft picks to Cleveland to nab that year’s second overall pick. Much of the discussion around the draft was whether the Los Angeles Rams, with the No. 1 pick, would take Jared Goff or Wentz. They chose Goff, and the Eagles took Wentz.
Wentz came out of the gates on fire last season before slowing down as NFL defenses adjusted to his game. Wentz finished the year with just 16 touchdowns to 14 interceptions; he had a 79 passer rating and an average of 6.3 yards per pass attempt.
This year, however, Wentz has looked like a revelation, as he has joined the MVP conversation on a team with an elite defense and an offense that seems to be finding its footing each week.
Compare that with the Browns, whose quarterback situation is getting uglier by the week.
The Browns started five quarterbacks last year, cycling through Cody Kessler, Josh McCown, Robert Griffin III, Charlie Whitehurst, and Kevin Hogan.
This year, seeking an answer at the position (though they passed over the chance to draft Deshaun Watson), the Browns drafted DeShone Kizer. Through six games, Kizer has completed just 52% of his passes and has thrown three touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Kizer has been tugged in and out of the lineup, replaced by Hogan (61% completion, four touchdowns, five interceptions) and Kessler (52% completion, zero touchdowns, one interception).
The Browns were expected to improve this season after what looked like a promising draft. But their offense has been utterly incompetent, leaving the defense on the field longer. When the Browns begin trailing, they’re forced to abandon the run game, leaving their quarterbacks to throw more and get exposed.
With the team 0-7, there are already calls for changes in management. Two seasons and 22 losses (with one win) into a full teardown, the Browns haven’t made any progress on their rebuild outside perhaps defensive end Myles Garrett.
The Browns have acquired extra picks in next year’s draft, one with a seemingly deep quarterback class, and a franchise quarterback is certainly on Cleveland’s wish list. Neither Wentz nor Watson would be playing as well as he is now if he were in Cleveland. But any team’s rebuild becomes easier with a potential franchise quarterback. Good quarterbacks keep their team’s defense on the field, elevate the skill players around them, and help attract future free agents. Wentz certainly has that promise for the Eagles.
The Browns, meanwhile, must be kicking themselves for passing on the chance to enjoy all that Wentz brings to a team.