Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.
Wake-Up Call: Eagles Couldn’t Be Any More Glad To Have Carson Wentz
After getting off to a strong 3-1 start in the first quarter of the 2016 season, the Philadelphia Eagles are now 4-4 at the halfway point. The Birds have lost four out of their last five games.
There are a number of reasons the Eagles have slipped in recent weeks. To pin all the blame on Carson Wentz would be unfair, but there’s no denying the rookie quarterback has cooled off after a red hot debut. Just take a look at the numbers.
Wentz’s stats through his games 1-4
4 games, 91 completions, 135 attempts, 67.4% completion, 1,007 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, 1 interception, 7.5 yards per attempt, 103.5 rating, 11 rushing attempts, 35 rush yards, 0 rush touchdowns, 3 fumbles
Wentz’s stats through games 4-8
4 games, 86 completions, 140 attempts, 61.4% completion, 883 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 6.3 yards per attempt, 72.4 rating, 12 rushing attempts, 1 rush yard, 0 rush touchdowns, 5 fumbles
Of course, the numbers don’t represent the entire story. It must be noted that Wentz’s stats have regressed since the Eagles lost starting right tackle Lane Johnson to a 10-game suspension. It’s also been apparent that Wentz simply needs more offensive weapons to work with. His so-called skill players haven’t been very reliable for him. Wentz has arguably been provided with one of the worst wide receiving corps in the NFL.
This context hasn’t been lost on the Eagles coaching staff. They still seem to be very satisfied by the quarterback they selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
“I couldn’t be any more glad we got this guy,” said offensive coordinator Frank Reich on Thursday. “He’s a good player. The start of his first eight games of his career, there’s been a lot of really shining moments. Like all of us, like everybody in this room who goes out every week to prepare for these games, and then you go out and you actually have to play. You can’t just do it in the meeting room or on the practice field. You really got to go out and compete in one of the highest competitive industries there is, one of the hardest positions to play.”
“I think he’s done well. He’s made his mistakes, but we all have. I’m just glad he’s on our team. I think the future is very bright, and I think the near future is very bright.”
Wentz is having a special season as far as Eagles rookie quarterbacks are concerned. He now owns franchise rookie records in every major passing category including attempts, completions, and touchdowns.
Wentz is also still on pace to have a strong rookie season by historical standards. Take a look at his on pace numbers.
Wentz’s 2016 current stats
8 games, 177 completions, 275 attempts, 64.4% completion, 1,890 passing yards, 9 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 6.7 yards per attempt, 87.7 rating, 23 rushing attempts, 36 rushing yards, 0 rush touchdowns, 8 fumbles
Wentz’s 2016 projected stats
16 games, 354 completions, 550 attempts, 64.4% completion, 3,780 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 6.7 yards per attempt, 87.7 rating, 46 rushing attempts, 72 rushing yards, 0 rush touchdowns, 16 fumbles
Wentz is projected to join Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston, and Cam Newton as the only rookies in the NFL history to have at least 3,780 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. Wentz is also projected to finish fourth in rookie passing yards and tied with five players (including Sam Bradford) for 17th in passing touchdowns.
While Wentz’s rookie season has been promising, there’s obviously a lot of room for him to improve. He needs to cut down on the inaccurate throws which have led to interceptions in recent weeks. He also needs to cut down his high number of fumbles, which have largely been due to mishandled snaps.
The positives far outweigh the negatives with Wentz. Philadelphia has failed to have a sustainable franchise quarterback since the days of Donovan McNabb. Wentz looks like he can be the team’s next cornerstone player under center. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has already seen a lot of growth from Wentz in his rookie season.
“I think one is learning the speed of the game,” said Pederson. “I think he also learned that each game is different, it’s unique, has its own set of circumstances. I also think he realizes how hard it is to win in the National Football League, and when you do win, how rewarding it is due to the fact of the preparation that goes into the week.
“I think, too, he’s learning situational football a little bit, where maybe in college you don’t have to consider as much of that, where here it’s everything. It can really, really affect you offensively. So, he’s learning about situations.”
“You know, just how to manage everything. The one thing he has done well is the things that we’ve asked him to do from managing our offense during the game, he’s handled extremely well. So, from that standpoint, [we are] very comfortable going forward with the things he’s learned and the things we’ve been able to give him going forward the next eight weeks.”
The Eagles likely aren’t in the hunt for the NFC East crown at this point after falling to 4-4 and 0-3 in the division, but Philadelphia’s playoff hopes aren’t totally dead yet. The team needs their rookie quarterback to come up big in the second half of the season in order to qualify for post-season play.
Whether the Eagles make the playoffs or not isn’t the be-all and end-all way to define Wentz’s rookie season. The important thing is that he continues to show franchise potential. From there, the Eagles will need to spend resources in the upcoming offseason to build around him.
For now, the Eagles have every right to be glad with Wentz. The promise he’s shown should give Philadelphia hope they can be contenders if he continues to improve.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Three numbers that matter as the Eagles get set to take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
We spoke with D. Orlando Ledbetter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to get some insight on the Falcons.
Take a look at our predictions for this week’s NFL games.
“We just want to keep developing his talent because I think he can be a dynamic receiver.” What does Dorial Green-Beckham need to improve on after spending half the season with the Eagles?
Eagles-Falcons preview show via BGN Radio.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Inquirer’s Zach Berman asks if the Eagles will be able to limit Julio Jones‘ production on Sunday.
Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan plays Jones in different spots, so Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin, and Jalen Mills could all see time on him. Carroll and McKelvin both endured hamstring injuries last week, which limited their production. Carroll is feeling better, but McKelvin will deal with his injury all season. And with the way Jones moves around the formation, the Eagles must be careful about being caught in an unfavorable matchup.
“It’s a bit to prepare for,” [Malcolm] Jenkins said. “We’re definitely going to have to survive some of those bad matchups and then continue to adjust as the game goes on, because they do a good job of scheming you up if you do the same thing over and over. They’ll have something specifically for that game that you haven’t seen before.”
Among the film the Eagles watched this week were games against Seattle, Denver, and San Diego. Jones was limited to two catches for 29 against the Broncos, who relied on man-to-man coverage. Carroll, who will likely see considerable time on Jones, said the cornerbacks must be prepared to play Jones a similar way. The help will be Rodney McLeod as the deep safety – and the pressure the defensive line could apply on quarterback Matt Ryan.
“If we give the D-line enough time to get there, it’ll make our job much easier,” Carroll said.
After a Pro Bowl year two seasons ago, Jason Kelce knows he needs to be better or he’ll be out of a job with the team, pens Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com.
He made his first Pro Bowl team playing under Chip Kelly in 2014, but struggled last year. He’s played somewhat better this year, but hasn’t found the consistency and dominance he had the three years he played from 2011 through 2014 (he missed most of 2012).
Fans see Kelce getting pushed around by hulking nose tackles and see him committing penalties and see bad center-quarterback exchanges, and Kelce has been an easy target this fall.
Kelce understands the criticisms and thinks they’re fair.
“I think that this is a town and a fan base that’s very passionate about its sports teams and they’re going to let you know when they don’t think you’re playing up to the caliber that you should be playing at, or that the Eagles need you to play at,” Kelce said at his locker.
“I think that’s always been the case here and it always will be. That’s just the type of passion that you deal with in Philly sports.”
Doug Pederson will speak with the media at 10:45.