Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is off to the worst start of his NFL career.

He is tied for most interceptions (four) through two weeks, ranks 29th in completion percentage (58.8), 32nd in yards per attempt (6.0) and is ahead of only Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins in quarterback rating (64.4). His 40.7% on-target pass rate is currently the lowest of any starter in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

And he’s been sacked a league-high eight times. So yeah, Wentz is struggling and it’s a major reason the Eagles are 0-2.

It’s been pretty bad, and it has some questioning the long-term viability of the 2016 No. 2 overall pick. So what’s the root problem here? And is it fixable, or is Wentz in for another rough outing Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals (1 p.m. ET, CBS) and even rougher season?

Let’s explore:

OK. What’s the issue?

There are external factors at play, including multiple injuries to the Eagles’ offensive line, but according to ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky, “95-plus percent [of the QB struggles] is internal, on Carson Wentz.”

Orlovsky has identified two primary issues. One is mechanical.

“There’s a reoccurring theme with his misses — his misses are high,” he said. “When big quarterbacks strain, when they try so hard throwing the football, they often become overextended, and that forces the left leg to become straight. If you can think of an upside-down ‘V,’ that’s what it looks like when he throws the football right now. When that leg straightens out, that ball is going to go high. It’s just physics.”

The second is Wentz is pressing. All four of Wentz’s interceptions were a result of forcing the throw, Orlovsky said. He believes Wentz is seeing the field fine and is not confounded by what defenses are showing him. His problem is situational decision-making.

Wentz’s third-quarter interception against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday is a perfect example. The Eagles were moving the ball with a first-and-10 deep inside Rams territory, and Wentz tried to push the ball down the field between a pair of defenders on a backside read to JJ Arcega-Whiteside and was picked off.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson has continually stressed he does not want Wentz to feel “like he has to make all the plays every single time.” Getting Wentz to shed the cape in situations that don’t call for a hero has been an ongoing battle.

Has the presence of Jalen Hurts and threat of losing his job gotten into Wentz’s head?

“It certainly could. I lived that situation,” former quarterback Ron Jaworski told 97.5 The Fanatic. Jaworski was entrenched as the Eagles’ starter before Randall Cunningham was drafted in the second round in 1985. He lasted one more season as the starter in Philadelphia.

“I still remember draft day: Oh, the Eagles drafted Randall Cunningham in the second round. OK, the clock is ticking! You know that, so you know that you have to raise your level of [play], and there’s an added amount of pressure. This is four years after I’m the league MVP, the highest-paid player in the NFL, all of a sudden they draft a quarterback. Everyone has a shelf life, and you begin to feel that pressure.

“I can’t say to what degree Carson feels the pressure, but he’s aware of it. … You know as a player the minute you struggle a little bit, you start hearing it from the fans, you start hearing it from the coaches in the meeting room, you start seeing a little giddy-up in the guy who wants your job, all those things start to filter into your thinking and clearly — clearly — I believe that has an effect on him.”

Quarterback Josh McCown has said when it comes to Hurts (the No. 2 QB and a second-round pick), he doesn’t know “that’s really a second thought” for Wentz and he has a broader team-first perspective now and is more focused on getting his young skill position players up to speed. (One of those young players, rookie receiver Jalen Reagor, is now sidelined multiple weeks with a UCL tear in his thumb.)

Hurts is already a conversation point around the city. It’s when those thoughts start creeping into the facility walls — and into the starter’s head — that you have a problem. There’s no hard evidence that’s the case yet.

Will Wentz pull out of his funk?

There’s a strong chance Wentz bounces back. He’s on pace for 32 interceptions this season; his career high is 14. His average yards gained per pass attempt is 4.4, sharply down from his career average of 7.0. He’s never had a quarterback rating lower than 79.4 in a year; it’s at 64.4 at the moment. The list goes on. Wentz is down across the board from his career averages. We know he’s better than this, and it’s reasonable to expect a correction soon.

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Marcus Spears and Dan Orlovsky explain why Kirk Cousins is less likely to turn the Vikings’ season around than Carson Wentz is for the Eagles.

And the good news, Orlovsky said, is that Wentz’s struggles are correctable.

“You can always make a smarter decision instead of forcing the ball,” he said, adding that his mechanics can be fixed as well and will come largely back in line when he stops straining.

“Is it cause for concern? It’s causing me to bite my nails,” Orlovsky said of Wentz’s play to date. “I’m not in a panic mode, but why are you [playing like this] when I saw last year what I saw in worse circumstances? You can control those things, you can fix those things.

“It needs to get better yesterday, but I’m not in panic mode yet.”



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