Eagles Wake-Up Call: Carson Wentz’s Potential
Carson Wentz completed just 11 passes in the Eagles’ 27-20 loss to Washington. He misread coverages at times, he held onto the ball for too long — twice resulting in sacks — and he over-threw his targets on several plays.
It was the first game he truly looked like a rookie throughout four quarters, yet he continued to show promise while making plays not many other quarterbacks can make. That’s why Doug Pederson, for one, isn’t worried about Wentz.
“It’s not a concern just because I know Carson and how he handles that and how tough he is on his himself. It is part of a learning process,” Pederson said. “That’s the great thing about Carson is how well he is able to just remember something, fix it, move on and then not do that again.”
When Wentz began to blow up in draft circles after the Senior Bowl in January, scouts praised his big arm and touch on throws down the field. On his 54-yard completion to Jordan Matthews in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Wentz displayed his arm strength, accuracy and anticipation.
When Wentz released the ball, Matthews was still a couple of yards behind the cornerback around Philadelphia’s 40-yard-line, but when Matthews made the catch, the ball was fit perfectly into a tight window around Washington’s 35-yard-line. It was a beautiful ball on third-and-14 that helped set up a field goal.
Wentz also showed his ability to make plays on the move. Facing third-and-11 from Philadelphia’s 35-yard-line toward the end of the third quarter, Wentz escaped pressure to find Dorial Green-Beckham for a 38-yard gain. The play was called back due to Wendell Smallwood’s illegal block above the waist, but it’s a good example of Wentz’s ability to turn nothing — or even a negative play — into something.
As he rolled to his left, Wentz eluded a pair of defenders and threw the ball back toward the middle of the field as he was getting hit and falling to his left. Those improvisational skills are something we’ve seen time and time again — such as on Wentz’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles against the Steelers.
Later, Wentz displayed his pocket movement and ability to deliver a key throw while getting hit. In the fourth quarter, the Eagles faced third-and-9 from their 36-yard-line with 3:13 remaining. The quarterback felt some pressure at the top of his drop as Chris Baker quickly beat Brandon Brooks, but Wentz side-stepped and climbed the pocket before hitting Nelson Agholor for 18 yards while getting shoved to the ground.
Wentz put his team in Washington territory down seven points, although he couldn’t capitalize.
To be clear: Wentz didn’t deliver an overall strong performance against Washington. But he did remind onlookers every so often about his playmaking ability. While the Eagles may look back on Sunday later this season as a game that could’ve really helped them in a potential playoff push, it can also be viewed as another stepping stone for the guy the Eagles hope will be their franchise quarterback for years to come.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I honestly still haven’t sat down and thought it all the way through.” Sam Bradford reflects on the day he was notified of his trade to Minnesota and his time with the Eagles.
According to Ian Rapoport, Dak Prescott will start for the Cowboys next week against the Eagles.
“I just think you go off the tape and you go do the best you can.” Mike Zimmer doesn’t think Bradford’s knowledge of the Eagles’ playbook will matter that much.
Why did Zach Ertz catch only one pass Sunday against Washington?
“I’m not going to change anything. Will we tweak some stuff? Yes. We still have to get ready.” Doug Pederson isn’t worried about Bradford’s knowledge of the Eagles’ playbook.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Malcolm Jenkins keeps notes on everyone he’s played with, which includes Sam Bradford, from Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com.
It’s likely that the Bradford book is pretty full. Jenkins and Bradford were teammates during the 2015 season with the Eagles and then spent the entire offseason leading up to 2016 as teammates until Bradford was traded to the Vikings a week before the opener.
Bradford knows the Eagles. And the Eagles know Bradford.
Who has the advantage in a situation like this?
“I think we’ll see that on Sunday,” Jenkins said. “It’s weird. A few weeks back, Sam was getting ready to be our starting quarterback and now we’re getting ready to play him. He obviously knows a lot about us. We know a lot about him. It’ll be fun to get to play against him.”
Starting rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai makes some long-term sense, opines Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.
There’s an argument to be made that moving Allen Barbre to right tackle and filling [Stefen] Wisniewski in at left guard would be putting the five best offensive linemen on the team on the field. The Eagles chose to go another direction when they inserted rookie fifth round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai directly in at right tackle, with the following two-fold explanation from Doug Pederson:
- Barbre has played well at left guard, and the team didn’t want to disrupt what the Eagles had going for them on the left side of the offensive line.
- Simply playing Vaitai at right tackle would mean just one change along the offensive line, as opposed to two by shifting Barbre out to right tackle and filling in Wisniewski in at left guard.
Wisniewski is clearly not happy.
“I was told that ‘V’ had been practicing really well and they wanted to give him a shot,” said Wisniewski after the Eagles’ loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
One additional theory that has not been mentioned by Pederson is that playing Vaitai would allow the team to assess whether he can be the right tackle of the future. At some point soon, Jason Peters will no longer be in the NFL, and Lane Johnson will take his place at left tackle. By determining whether or not Vaitai is a good player or not this year, it would allow Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ front office to determine if they need to invest significant draft pick and/or free agent capital on the tackle position.
Frank Reich and Jim Schwartz will address the media around 10:20.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.