Eagles Wake-Up Call: Mayock On Wentz
No analyst has been higher on Carson Wentz than Mike Mayock.
The respected NFL Network draft expert had Wentz as his top quarterback coming out. Called him “every bit as athletic as Andrew Luck or Cam Newton.” Said he has the upside to reach the highest of heights of his profession.
Months removed from the pre-draft hype, Mayock — who has spent time around the practice facility in recent days — is still firmly in the Wentz camp, even if it is a bit of a construction site at the moment.
“There’s nothing that I’ve seen that makes me think he’s not going to be the quarterback of the future and the guy I thought he’d be,” Mayock said in a conversation with Birds 24/7 following Monday’s practice. “All the intangibles, I think the Eagles love what he’s brought to the table. Now it’s just a matter of, he’s gotta work on some technique.”
Doug Pederson, Frank Reich and company are in the process of tweaking some of Wentz’s mechanics. Pederson noted that Wentz can get “a little jumpy, a little hoppy,” so they’re working on “trying to keep his feet tighter to the ground.” Adam Caplan recently said that “the way he holds the football had to be adjusted a little bit.” Mayock added a couple other tidbits.
“They’re asking him to narrow his base down, they’re asking him to do some different things with his arm,” said Mayock.
“One of the first things I noticed watching the tape was, he has a real wide base meaning his feet are real wide apart in the pocket, which means a big guy like that takes up a lot of room. A pocket by definition is typically pretty small. So a lot of quarterbacks stand real tall in the pocket with their feet closer together, and that’s where he’s got to get to.”
All of this could help explain why Wentz’s throws have fluttered at times, though Pederson has attributed that mostly to the young QB digesting the system and being more consumed with the particulars of a play call and less with execution of the throw itself. Mayock believes it’s a combination of the two.
“They’re asking him to do some things from a technique perspective that forces him to think,” said Mayock. “It puts an awful lot on a young quarterback.”
Which is a big part of why the Eagles are taking the long view when it comes to Wentz. The plan is to have him refine parts of his game behind the scenes before he grabs the reins. He’ll have a few public appearances in the meanwhile, however, beginning Thursday against the Bucs.
“I just want to play smart. Lots of completions – completions is the biggest thing and really manage the offense, control the game and show my leadership capabilities and make plays when plays are there to be made,” said Wentz, who is expected to play most of the second half. “I’m not going to worry about statistics or anything. I just want to play smart and execute.”
For all that he is working through, Chase Daniel believes Wentz “is starting to understand really the whole scheme of the offense from a 40,000-foot view up” and is picking things up quickly, particularly when it comes to protections, which puts him “way ahead of normal rookies, that’s for sure.”
There is bound to be overreaction either way off Wentz’s performance Thursday: if he looks good, some will be clamoring for him to start; if he struggles, concerns will be raised about the long-term outlook. As Mayock points out, though, this is a project still very much in its infancy stages.
“I think his head is filled with a lot of stuff and that’s hard when you’re a rookie. So I just think it’s going to take him a little time, especially with some of the technique they’re working with him,” said Mayock. “And he’ll be fine. I really hope he gets some live reps in regular season games at some point this year.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Doug Pederson won’t be having anymore live drills for the remainder of camp. That and other observations from yesterday’s practice.
Jordan Matthews will miss the next couple of weeks with left knee soreness he suffered during practice on Friday.
The Browns announced Robert Griffin III will start at QB for Week 1 against the Eagles.
Could Steven Means make the roster over Marcus Smith? Josh with his latest roster projections.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com points out some interesting bits from the Eagles first depth chart of the 2016 season, which was released by the PR staff.
• Stefen Wisniewski is listed as the backup right guard and center. That’s interesting because he’s been working primarily at guard this training camp, but would clearly be a better backup option at center than others.
• Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks are listed as the starting cornerbacks, while Nolan Carroll and rookie Jalen Mills are their backups. Eric Rowe is behind Mills.
• A little surprising that rookie Blake Countess is above Ed Reynolds and Chris Maragos on the depth chart. How important will special teams be to forming this roster? Maragos is a very good special teams player, but others might be better on defense.
• At linebacker, Najee Goode and Deontae Skinner are the backup outside linebackers, while rookie seventh-rounder Joe Walker is the backup MIKE.
• A small special teams note: Caleb Sturgis is listed ahead of Cody Parkey. Sturgis has looked much better so far during training camp.
With a return to the 4-3 one-gap front, Jim Schwartz recruited Chris Wilson to help out the defensive line with the new scheme. Jeff McLane of the Inquirer has more on the new coach.
Several of the linemen previously played in a similar system, but it’s been four years since Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham apprenticed under former defensive line coach Jim Washburn. It’s been four years since they toiled in a meeting room where your mistakes were specifically pointed out.
“It is different, and it is a [180-degree] turn in comparison to what the guys were most recently doing,” Wilson said. “But it’s pretty straightforward. I don’t want to say we’re a tight ship, but we run a pretty tight ship. I believe in that. The skirmishes should be harder than the war.”
Aside from three separate stints as a one-year intern in the NFL, Wilson has spent the majority of his coaching career in college. But he had a cup of coffee in the pros after the Bears drafted him in 1991. And he said the transition has been an easy one because the players are more mature.
He’s seen the evolution from both ends because of his relationship with Cox, whom he coached at Mississippi State for two years. But Cox doesn’t receive preferential treatment because of his history with Wilson, and he doesn’t avoid his criticism because of his $100 million contract.
“He’ll get on me like the other guys, but that’s what you need,” Cox said. “Honestly, I think that’s what was missing, especially in that [defensive line] room, a coach that will get after guys.”
Players have the day off. Pederson is scheduled to speak at 10.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.