PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We all knew it was coming. We just didn’t see it coming this fast. The meteoric rise of Carson Wentz in his second NFL season took a hardscrabble city, playing in the hardscrabble NFC East Division, and the whole NFL by surprise in 2017. And when we wanted to see more, we couldn’t.
Wentz’s season ended prematurely on the turf of the Los Angeles Coliseum, when he tore the ACL in his left knee, though not before the second-overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft completed an Eagles’ single-season record—and league-leading at the time—33 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. In merely his second season, Wentz found himself in the company of such names as Tom Brady as an MVP consideration. As a testament to his growing popularity nationwide, Wentz’s No. 11 jersey was the NFL’s top-selling jersey in November.
As a testament to an extraordinary season, Wentz was selected as the winner of the 59th Bert Bell Professional Player of the Year Award. In doing so, Wentz becomes the sixth Eagle to receive the prestigious Bert Bell Award joining Norm Van Brocklin (1960), Pete Retzlaff (1965), Ron Jaworski (1980), Randall Cunningham, who won it twice (1988 & 1990), and Michael Vick (2010), the last Eagle to win the Bert Bell Award. Cunningham also won the award a third time (1988) as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Wentz receives the Bert Bell Award after setting an Eagles franchise record for touchdown passes in a season with 33, over 13 games, exceeding the previous mark held by Sonny Jurgensen, who threw for 32 over 14 games in 1961. Wentz, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL during the third quarter of the Eagles’ 43-35 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 11, 2017, completed 265 of 440 passes for 3,296 yards during the season.
Wentz will be honored this Friday at the soldout Maxwell Club dinner in Atlantic City on Friday night at the Tropicana.
At the time of his injury, Wentz became one of three players in NFL history (joining Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, who both have done it twice) to have 33 touchdown passes and no more than seven interceptions in 13 games. He was ranked fourth in the NFL with a passer rating of 101.9, and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month in October. During his groundbreaking season, Wentz also had six games with three touchdown passes and four games with four touchdown passes.
Wentz joins Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell (1979) as the only players to have won the Bert Bell Award in their second NFL season.
Nick Foles was MVP of Super Bowl LII, but it was Wentz who got the Eagles there. Wentz led the Birds to a franchise-tying nine-game winning streak and a 10-1 record through 11 games.