Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson hesitated final week when requested whether or not quarterback Carson Wentz would begin Monday’s sport in opposition to the Seattle Seahawks (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN). He supplied a few hedges throughout a back-and-forth with the media earlier than lastly saying Wentz would stay below middle.
You are not making that transfer, proper Doug, to a unique quarterback?
“Not at the moment on Wednesday, no.”
Presumably for Monday?
“I am targeted proper now on getting higher at the moment. I do not know. I imply, I might say, no, no, no.”
Wentz is your starter for Monday?
The truth that Pederson is even being questioned a few change at quarterback — and it is occurring pretty usually now — exhibits how sharply the dynamics have shifted because the final time these groups met in January within the wild-card spherical of the playoffs. It is sparked by Wentz’s poor play and the second-round choice of quarterback Jalen Hurts in April’s NFL draft. That Pederson was free in his dedication solely furthers hypothesis that the wheels of change are churning below the floor ought to the ship not be righted, and shortly.
Some change is already occurring. Hurts saw an increase in reps at quarterback with the first-team offense throughout apply this week, in keeping with sources, a sign he’s more likely to have a much bigger function at QB in opposition to Seattle. He has been used primarily as a gadget participant and has thrown two passes this season, however indicators level to him getting extra alternatives. Any success will additional the strain on Wentz to carry out in an effort to stave off break up allegiances throughout the locker room.
Wentz was knocked out of the 2019 playoff sport in opposition to Seattle with a concussion within the first quarter on account of a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jadeveon Clowney. He entered that sport on fireplace, tossing seven touchdowns to no interceptions over the ultimate 4 regular-season video games whereas working with a bunch of apply squad gamers to elevate an injury-riddled Eagles crew into the postseason. He had ascended to the function of main chief, appeared to have lastly shaken the shadow of Nick Foles and appeared poised to reestablish himself as one of many NFL’s finest QBs.
Wentz’s fifth season within the NFL was alleged to be a launchpad however has as an alternative been a trapdoor. His play has plummeted into the league’s abyss. He’s first amongst all gamers in interceptions (14), fumbles (10) and sacks (40), ranks 32nd in completion share (58.4%), 31st in yards per try (6.2) and has the worst off-target share (23%) amongst all qualifiers, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Data.
The ball is not popping out on time (Wentz’s common time earlier than a go this 12 months is 2.90 seconds, his highest for that metric within the 4 seasons of NFL Subsequent Gen Stats information). His mechanics are out of sync. His decision-making is off kilter. And the Eagles are floundering at 3-6-1.
What occurred to Wentz, the swagger-rich playmaker who as soon as dominated? Who’s chargeable for his disappearance? And is he gone endlessly, or will he floor in time to salvage this season and a bunch of jobs within the course of?
All of the instruments are there
Of all of the signal-callers Hue Jackson has evaluated, Wentz achieved one thing nobody else may.
Jackson, the coach of the Cleveland Browns when Wentz was popping out of North Dakota State in 2016, despatched scaled-down variations of his playbook to potential QBs and gave them three days to memorize it. After they met, he requested them to conceptualize it on the white board inside three minutes. He has performed this with at the least 50 quarterbacks, he mentioned, and none was in a position to beat the clock apart from Wentz.
“He did it in 2 minutes and 49 seconds. I’ve by no means had anyone try this,” Jackson instructed ESPN. “He is likely one of the smartest quarterbacks I’ve ever hung out with.”
Add in Wentz’s bodily items — an agile 6-foot-5, 237-pound body and rocket arm — and Jackson was offered that Wentz had what it took to be an excellent quarterback within the NFL. Others within the Cleveland group apprehensive about Wentz’s lack of pedigree popping out of the FCS, and the Browns made a commerce with Philadelphia to maneuver out of the No. 2 slot. Cleveland spent the following couple of years trying silly for that call as Wentz ripped up the league and got here a December damage shy of securing the 2017 MVP.
Although his tempo slowed the following couple of seasons as he battled accidents, his manufacturing from 2017 to 2019 — 81 touchdowns to 21 interceptions — was distinctive.
“I really like his bodily make-up. He was all the pieces you search for in a quarterback from a stature standpoint,” Jackson mentioned. “He is very clever. And he could make all of the throws. There isn’t any purpose why he should not be or could not be one of many good gamers within the league. So clearly, there’s one thing that is lacking.”
Some level to teaching. Loads of analysts have opined Pederson will not be enjoying to Wentz’s strengths sufficient, and there is proof of that. Wentz is commonly at his finest when he is creating exterior the pocket, for example, and but there are few designed rollouts referred to as for him in a given week.
The larger situation, some on the within would argue, is the cacophony of voices ringing in Wentz’s and Pederson’s ears. Eagles proprietor Jeffrey Lurie needed exterior opinions introduced on this offseason to boost a sagging offense, so the crew employed Wealthy Scangarello, Andrew Breiner and Marty Mornhinweg to assist Pederson and quarterbacks coach/go sport coordinator Press Taylor form the assault. Drawback is, these voices and opinions aren’t at all times synced up, resulting in Wentz and Pederson being pulled in several and sometimes conflicting instructions. That has performed a hand in why the offense lacks id and move.
It is also questionable as as to if that is the appropriate grouping for Wentz. When he was at his finest, he had John DeFilippo as his quarterbacks coach and Frank Reich as his offensive coordinator. It was form of a very good cop/unhealthy cop state of affairs the place DeFilippo would push him onerous when wanted whereas Reich was the extra light guiding hand. Wentz is strong-willed in the case of what he thinks is correct — a Sort A persona — and that group knew when to coax and when to push again, with the first purpose of getting him to play throughout the construction of the offense.
Taylor has a very good fame however is not recognized to have the identical kind of aggressive teaching fashion. He’s shut with Wentz, and has earned belief, however it may be argued the unhealthy cop is sorely lacking.
Damien Woody is not satisfied that Carson Wentz or Jalen Hurts can have success on this Eagles offense.
Then there’s the addition of Hurts — the dynamic, uber-confident rookie out of Oklahoma. The Eagles despatched shock waves by the NFL through the use of the No. 53 total decide on him in April, not lengthy after giving Wentz a four-year, $128 million extension in June 2019. Despite the fact that Eagles brass mentioned he wasn’t a risk to Wentz’s standing, the transfer ran the danger of sending combined indicators. If Wentz shares the identical kind of camaraderie with Hurts as he does with different latest backups like Josh McCown and Nate Sudfeld, it doesn’t present itself publicly, as the 2 are hardly ever seen interacting on the apply discipline or on the sideline in-game.
That mentioned, Wentz must personal the majority of this. Sure, the teaching could possibly be higher and accidents have reworked his supporting forged but once more, together with alongside the offensive line. However he’s displaying some startling regression and is making errors that ought to have been flushed out of his system already.
“He is free with the ball within the pocket, he is free throwing it down the sphere,” ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen mentioned. “He is making an attempt to suit the ball into small or contested home windows when there’s different choices. … I do not suppose he is seeing issues on a regular basis. … He’ll have a learn open and he’ll maintain the soccer.
“You want good decision-making and fast decision-making with the quarterback place. It would not matter in the event that they’re working the veer, when it will get to a degree the place you are not getting execution from the gamers, the scheme goes to return into play, however you bought to have the execution first and it is gonna begin with the quarterback.”
Favre or Trubisky?
Wentz’s precipitous drop in play places him in choose — and acquainted — territory. He led the league in QBR in 2017 (78.5), a quantity that has dropped to the fourth lowest within the league this season (48.2). In response to ESPN Stats & Data, solely 5 QBs have gone from a top-five to a bottom-five complete QBR rating inside two or fewer seasons because the metric was first tracked in 2011: Brett Favre, Mitchell Trubisky, Foles, Case Keenum and Matt Schaub.
The excellent news is Favre, who occurred to be Wentz’s favourite quarterback rising up, did this twice and is proof that gunslingers lead a mercurial existence. The unhealthy information is that Wentz’s profession numbers are eerily much like the opposite 4 QBs within the group, suggesting 2017 might need been an outlier and expectations ought to be tempered.
Wentz has a beginning file of 17-19-1 since that Superman 2017 marketing campaign. He has suffered three important accidents in that point, together with a torn ACL/LCL in his knee, a stress fracture in his again and the concussion in opposition to Seattle, which he politely declined to speak about this week.
“I do not prefer to dwell on accidents, and admittedly, a head damage will not be a enjoyable factor to relive,” he mentioned.
Wentz was in his second season when he was ducking below defensive linemen, muscling by would-be tacklers, sprinting exterior and throwing ropes downfield at a dizzying clip. He nonetheless has a few of that magic in him, however to say he is simply as spry and twitchy can be disingenuous.
What he actually hasn’t misplaced is that huge arm or excessive soccer IQ, two of the traits that made the group fall in love with him in 2016. Whereas they did spend a second-round decide on Hurts, the Eagles’ brass entered the season believing Wentz would cause them to their subsequent Tremendous Bowl, and that at some point, well being permitting, they is likely to be within the stands as Wentz is enshrined into the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame.
Even when Hurts does see a bump in enjoying time within the quick time period, the Eagles are financially dedicated to Wentz for the foreseeable future. Their success nonetheless rests in his palms.
On Monday night time, below the lights, he has an opportunity to reassure Philadelphia there’s nonetheless purpose to dream huge.