Carson Wentz’s Leadership Begins To Show
As the Eagles get set to take on the Seattle Seahawks out west, let’s gather up some of the biggest stories from the web during the past week.
Last week against the Falcons, James Palmer of NFL.com reports that one late drive in the game brought a lot of confidence to the offense, mainly in part of Carson Wentz.
Teammates recognize Wentz’s ability to lead. Last week, Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz notched the first fourth-quarter comeback of his NFL career. He’s had the opportunity several times this season to come from behind late, but Philadelphia’s offense has come up short. I was told this week there was a confidence throughout the Eagles’ offensive unit during a drive late in the fourth quarter Sunday, with the team down two points to the Falcons, and a lot of it stemmed from Wentz.
Guard Brandon Brooks, who has spent past offseasons interning at banks and has taken graduate-level business classes, is as nimble a mind as you’ll find in the NFL. He recognized Wentz’s supreme intelligence within the second overall pick’s first couple of days in Philadelphia. Wentz used his football IQ while masterfully managing a 76-yard touchdown drive with less than six minutes to go to put the Eagles up 21-15. Wentz also showed a quality during that drive that resonated with his teammates.
“He plays like a kid out there,” Brooks said. “He’s having fun and he just loves being out there. You just look at him and you see, just like [Tom] Brady or [Peyton] Manning, there is no place he’d rather be in the world than on that field. It gets you excited. It makes you want to enjoy it just as much as he is.”
Thanks to the defense, the Eagles have a dramatically better future than it began with this season, opines Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.
Only some of this is chalked up to Carson Wentz, who has been mediocre since his sizzling 3-0 start. Wentz is now down to 30th in opponent-adjusted QBR, below [Brock] Osweiler, and is 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A). To be fair, Wentz is also getting precious little help from his receivers, who are dropping 6.1 percent of his passes. Only the two 49ers quarterbacks and Matthew Stafford (a league-high 7.5 percent) are suffering from higher drop rates.
This is really more about the defense, which was supposed to be better and has instead been excellent from the jump. Philadelphia leads the league in defensive DVOA despite starting the likes of Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin regularly at cornerback. The Eagles win by giving those corners help and getting pressure with their front four, which has finally unlocked Brandon Graham‘s career-year mode. The Eagles are fourth in the league in both pressure rate and sack rate despite the fact that they blitz just 19.2 percent of the time, the sixth-lowest rate in football. As is the case in Atlanta, the concern now might be holding onto defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who rebuilt Philly’s defense on the fly.
Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham will need to play huge roles on defense to stop the Seahawks offense, according to Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com.
The Seattle offensive line was better last week against the Patriots, but the Eagles’ front will be a much bigger challenge. The best player on that front is defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who is a handful every week. He was good last week against Atlanta, but the Atlanta Falcons got him on a 29-yard run by Devonta Freeman when they trapped him with guard Andy Levitre. The Falcons used Cox’s aggressiveness up the field against him. But can Seattle do that?
Fox commands the double and the Seattle interior is young. The other guy who will be in focus here is pass rusher Brandon Graham . He got a sack last week of Matt Ryan, but he can thank Cox for it. On the play, Cox beat Chris Chester with a quick move inside and Ryan had to step to his right and Graham came from the defensive left to knock him down. Cox and Graham against the Seattle line could decide the game this week.
Cameron DaSilva of FoxSports.com thinks Jim Schwartz will be an NFL head coach next season.
3. Jim Schwartz, Philadelphia Eagles
At first glance, Jim Schwartz’s track record doesn’t appear to make him a strong head coaching candidate. He’s 29-51 as a head coach in his career, leading the Lions to one winning season (and playoff berth) in five years. In his two seasons as a defensive coordinator since then, however, he’s done a fantastic job. The Bills were fourth in yards and points defensively in 2014, while the Eagles are currently sixth and third, respectively.
Schwartz is a defensive line guru with his Wide 9 scheme, and it’s carried over from his past couple years in Detroit to now in Philadelphia. He’s a defensive-minded guy, and if he finds himself in the right situation with strong personnel along the front four, he could excel as a head coach. A team with young pieces like Jacksonville could benefit from his prowess on D.
Of course, you have to consider the fact that he may not want to leave his current place in Philadelphia after just one year, but redeeming himself as the top guy could be something he desires.
ESPN.com’s Matthew Berry is a fan of Jordan Matthews in fantasy football this week, but not Zach Ertz or the Eagles’ defense.
Wide receivers I love in Week 11
Jordan Matthews, Eagles: But … but … Seattle! Yes, the Seahawks are improving, and yes this is a road game for the Eagles, but the Seahawks have really struggled against the slot recently, giving up at least 106 yards or a touchdown to the slot in five of their past six games. As the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver (10-plus targets in three straight) who has at least 65 yards in five of his past six, Matthews (who primarily plays the slot) is a high-floor WR3 this week with legit WR2 upside in a matchup most people will unnecessarily shy away from.
Tight ends I hate in Week 11
Zach Ertz, Eagles: The Seahawks have allowed just one tight end score this season and just two in their past 15 games. Ertz, who is without a TD in nine straight games, has been held to fewer than 60 yards in every game this season but one.
Defenses I hate in Week 11
Philadelphia Eagles: After a hot start, they’ve come back down to Earth with just seven points total in the past three weeks. On the road against the red-hot Seahawks, they are not a great option this week.
The Inquirer’s Zach Berman writes how the Eagles get their uniform numbers and why every player chose their number.
[Greg] Delimitros starts with a 90-man roster and works within restrictions from the NFL, noting numbers that are off-limits by the league, and the need to satisfy the demands of some players who are more particular than others.
“I call those guys as soon as they get drafted, and I give them their options of what numbers are available,” Delimitros said. “If somebody’s gung-ho about a number and another player is wearing that number, depending who it is, then we can possibly swap out. Plus, you’ve got to go through league protocol.”
The Eagles have formally retired Nos. 5, 15, 20, 40, 44, 60, 70, 92, and 99.
They also don’t like to give away Randall Cunningham‘s No. 12. So that’s 10 numbers that players cannot claim.
Former wide receiver Rueben Randle was one of the top free agent flops from the offseason, opines Chris Wesseling of NFL.com.
10) Rueben Randle, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Attempting to fill a glaring need for an experienced receiver capable of stretching the field outside the numbers and down the middle, the Eagles signed Randle away from the division-rival Giants on a one-year prove-it contract with $500,000 in guarantees. Randle arrived carrying a reputation as a sloppy route runner with a penchant for tardiness in team meetings.
By the time preseason action rolled around, Randle was taking flak from the local media for a lack of effort. The Eagles promptly cut Randle at the end of training camp, leaving rookie Carson Wentz with Jordan Matthews and a passel of unreliable second fiddles at wide receiver. By the trade deadline, general manager Howie Roseman was trying to pry Torrey Smith away from the 49ers in an effort to shore up an underperforming wide-receiver corps.
FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine writes how former Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham ushered in the era of the dual-threat quarterback.
After flashing abilities as a passer, runner and punter at UNLV, Cunningham was selected in the second round of the 1985 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. And almost immediately, his unique skill set grabbed his teammates’ attention.
“You knew there was something special about Randall,” former Eagles defensive back Eric Allen said. “[He was] extremely athletic, played with a great sense of self, understood that he was good, understood that he could do a lot of things that other quarterbacks in the game could not do, and he had a great deal of confidence.”
Despite his talent, Cunningham sat behind Ron Jaworski, a more traditional dropback passer, for most of his first two NFL seasons. But he became Philly’s starter after Jaworski was hurt late in the 1986 season — and the Eagles’ iconoclastic coach, Buddy Ryan, soon let Cunningham loose as the game’s first true dual-threat QB.
“Buddy Ryan allowed me to be the player he believed I could be,” Cunningham told me. “He saw something in me and gave me an opportunity to flourish as an athlete, and not just a quarterback, but to really take it to a whole other level.”