All-22 Wake-Up Call: Inside Carson Wentz’s INT

Nelson Agholor

It took 275 plays, but after four games Carson Wentz finally looked like what everyone expected him to look like: a rookie.

The 23-year-old’s accuracy, arm strength and decision-making helped give him the third-longest streak of passes thrown before an interception to start an NFL career among all quarterbacks. Wentz (134) ranks behind Tom Brady (162) and Dak Prescott (155) and ahead of Warren Moon (131) in that category.

The North Dakota State product completed 25 of his first 32 pass attempts against the Lions for 238 yards, two touchdowns and a 118.5 passer rating. But on the Eagles’ final play of the game, Wentz threw his only interception of the year, sealing Philadelphia’s 24-23 loss in Detroit.

“It’s a teachable moment for him,” Doug Pederson said. “Next time in that situation, he’ll definitely understand what’s going on, I think, and not make those decisions. The one thing about Carson is it’s a short-term mentality. It happens once, he forgets it, he moves on and that’s what we got to do in this situation and get ready for this week.” Read more »

Eagles All-22: Why Jason Kelce Has Struggled

Jason Kelce. (USA Today Sports)

Jason Kelce. (USA Today Sports)

As Jason Kelce’s disappointing play permeated throughout the season last year, questions circulated about why the former Pro Bowl center was struggling. Was it the poor guard play next to him? Was it Chip Kelly’s increasingly inept offense?

Despite the upgrade next to Kelce in Brandon Brooks and Doug Pederson’s effective play-calling, Kelce has still struggled in the first two games this season. While everyone else on the Eagles’ offensive line has gotten off to a strong start, Kelce’s sub-par showing has prompted one simple question: Is he just not that good?

“You know when you play well and you know when you played bad,” Kelce, who declined some media requests yesterday, told the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane. “And I haven’t played up to the level that I’m capable of this year yet.” Read more »

All-22: Inside Carson Wentz’s Impressive Debut

Carson Wentz. (USA Today Sports)

Carson Wentz. (USA Today Sports)

No matter how much film you watch, how long you spend researching someone’s background or how extensive your interview process is, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get from a football player until they, you know, actually play some football.

Carson Wentz looked impressive during training camp because of his big arm, and he gave coaches reason to be optimistic when he used his mobility to extend plays in the preseason. But even as he continued to check boxes in the limited action he saw throughout the spring and summer, no one knew for sure how he’d respond to NFL defenses, the speed of the game and complex blitzes he probably didn’t see against South Dakota State.

“You couldn’t tell until he actually got on the field,” Chase Daniel said, “but from the first snap, you just saw how comfortable he was.” Read more »

Eagles All-22 Wake-Up Call: The Texas Concept

Doug Pederson. (Jeff Fusco)

Doug Pederson. (Jeff Fusco)

Sitting at a table full of Eagles beat reporters at the owners meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., Doug Pederson‘s voice heightened more than an hour into the session when he was asked if he’d use Zach Ertz similar to how the Chiefs deployed Travis Kelce.

“Yeah, I do. And I’m glad you brought that up, because I like our tight ends. I like our athleticism there. It’s a good group — great group,” Pederson said three months ago. “The primary tight end, Zach, is athletic [and] young. He’s like Brent [Celek] was when he first came in and a lot like Travis Kelce that way.”

When Pederson called plays for Kansas City last season, he often attempted to get Kelce the ball down the middle of the field on seam-type routes. One West Coast offense staple he liked to use was the Texas concept, which accounted for a few of the Chiefs’ big plays. Read more »

All-22: What Rodney McLeod Brings To the Eagles

Rodney McLeod. (USA Today Sports)

Rodney McLeod. (USA Today Sports)

Hyperbole abounds during free agency, especially after high-priced signings when teams guarantee tens of millions of dollars to their top targets. This is especially true in the honeymoon period shortly after the contract is inked, and the new addition meets with the local press corps for the first time.

The Eagles have learned over and over again in recent years after being burned by such ill-fated moves, but even while speaking in the shadow of the DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell deals, Rodney McLeod wasn’t really exaggerating in March when he said he and Malcolm Jenkins could become the best safety tandem in the NFL.

It remains to be seen what role McLeod will have in Jim Schwartz’s scheme, which will go a long way in determining how good of an investment the Eagles made in the $37 million safety, but his teammates and coaches don’t really seem to care how he’ll be deployed because of his varied skill set. Read more »

All-22: Jim Schwartz’s ‘Achilles’ Heel’

Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh. (USA Today Sports)

Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh. (USA Today Sports)

It was just a 14-yard gain.

Frank Gore lined up in the backfield during Week 2 in 2012 as the 49ers hosted the Lions, and he picked up a first down. But, as Cris Collinsworth pointed out on the NBC broadcast, it was symptomatic of a larger problem Jim Schwartz’s defense was having.

“Almost amazing that the 49ers keep hitting the Lions on this play,” Collinsworth said. “That was the play, more than any other, in the game in Detroit last year that beat the Detroit Lions. You would think that after a year of looking at it, they would’ve had it figured out. A little variation there, but it still worked.” Read more »

All-22 Wake-Up Call: The Eagles’ New Defense

Jim Schwartz. (USA Today Sports)

Jim Schwartz. (USA Today Sports)

Jim Washburn had a problem. The year was 1999, and he was the Tennessee Titans’ defensive line coach, but they weren’t getting enough sacks.

Washburn had difficulty determining how his defense could be more aggressive without overhauling the scheme, so he approached a defensive quality control coach in a trailer one day. It was especially tough figuring out what to do with the defensive lineman who lined up in front of the tight end, so Washburn suggested the lineman should shift outside the tight end, or from a 6-technique to a 9-technique.

“Hold on a second,” Washburn said. “Look, we’ve got eight guys to defend eight gaps. Why can’t one of my guys’ gaps be the edge? Be the nine technique? Let all you other a—holes cover those other gaps. Why can’t I have that one?” Read more »

All-22 Wake-Up Call: The Eagles’ New Offense

Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)

Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)

If Doug Pederson is successful with the Eagles, and he’s able to turn around Philadelphia’s offense, you can thank Paul Brown and Bill Walsh. That’s the duo widely credited with bringing the West Coast offense to the NFL, a variation of which you’ll see Pederson run.

You can even follow the lineage from Walsh down to Pederson, as Mike Holmgren was a quarterbacks coach under Walsh, Andy Reid was a quarterbacks coach under Homlgren, and Pederson was a quarterbacks coach — and offense coordinator — under Reid.

Still, the Eagles’ new head coach warns against using a blanket label to describe his offense.

“You say West Coast, I think that has kind of gone by the wayside just a touch,” Pederson said on Tuesday. “I’ll tell you this: the core values of the offense, the core principles, some of the core plays are West Coast-ish. We have developed a hybrid-type system.” Read more »

Coaching Candidate All-22: Gase’s Adaptability

Adam Gase. (USA Today Sports)

Adam Gase. (USA Today Sports)

Much has been made about Adam Gase’s adaptability. Whether you talk to his former players or media members who have covered him, it’s one of the first things they’ll mention.

Sure, he helped the Broncos win a playoff game with Tim Tebow starting, but how much can you actually attribute that to the quarterbacks coach? Peyton Manning had the best statistical season for a quarterback ever when Gase was his offensive coordinator, but wasn’t Manning probably most responsible for that?

And now, as the Bears offensive coordinator, Gase helped Jay Cutler achieve a career-high passer rating, but Chicago ranked just 17th in offensive points per drive this season, per Football Outsiders.

To get a better feel of how, exactly, has Gase adapted, and how much praise he deserves for his quarterbacks’ successes, we took to the film and pulled an example from his time with three of his most recent quarterbacks.
Read more »

All-22: Lessons From the First Washington Game

Pierre Garcon and Nolan Carroll. (USA Today Sports)

Pierre Garçon and Nolan Carroll. (USA Today Sports)

Eric Rowe is still kicking himself over a minor mistake he made 12 weeks ago. It was just the second NFL game he had appeared in on defense, and the first time he played more than 15 defensive snaps.

With just 26 seconds left in the Week 4 matchup, Kirk Cousins connected with Pierre Garçon to give Washington the 23-20 victory over Philadelphia. Nolan Carroll was the defensive back covering Garçon, but Rowe wasn’t far away.

“I have better technique now, but I could’ve had a lot better eyes,” Rowe said. “My eyes were all over the place, especially that last play where Pierre Garçon scored in the red zone. I could’ve jumped it earlier.

“I should’ve kept them on the receiver instead of in the backfield. When you look in the backfield and your total focus isn’t on the receiver, you’ll be late in reacting.” Read more »

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