What the Heck Happened to the Eagles & Wentz?

  • 2020 NFL Training Camp
  • carson wentz
  • Doug Pederson
  • Philadelphia Eagles
By Max Derringer September 15, 2020 0 Comment

The Eagles & Wentz started Sunday’s game against Washington Football Team perfectly, but squandered a 17-0 lead in unbelievable fashion.

The Eagles lost a game that seemed impossible to lose and most of the blame lays squarely on the shoulders or quarterback Carson Wentz. This is not the start of the season the Eagles or Wentz had in mind when they looked at the schedule. The Eagles have never lost a week one game since Doug Pederson took over the team.

It was an awful, disgusting, horrific loss and one of the worst in the Pederson/Wentz era.

Carson Wentz started 14-17 for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns and finished the game 10-25 for 8 yards and 2 interceptions.  It is almost unthinkable that a quarterback of Wentz’ stature would have a meltdown like he had on Sunday, but here we are.

How did it go all wrong so fast?

Review

To start, the offensive line was flat out terrible against Washington. Wentz was sacked 8 times and pressured on countless other passing attempts. The offensive line is not solely at fault for the sack numbers as Wentz could have avoided a couple of sacks if he would have thrown the ball away. No matter who was at fault, that amount of pressure on the quarterback is unacceptable.

The Eagles had a laundry list of questionable choices after leading 17-0 on Washington.

Eagles & Wentz after building a 17-0 lead:

Play-Calling

The play-calling from Doug Pederson remained aggressive, perhaps too aggressive. How aggressive were the Eagles on Sunday? Wentz threw for 520 attempted air yards, the next closest was Matt Ryan with 407 yards. Wentz also led the NFL with 12.4 air yards per throw. This is in contrast with last season where Wentz attempted 8.0 air yards per throw. With a team missing their starting RG and RT being this aggressive is not the best plan for success.

Another aspect of the play-calling that was questionable was the fact that Pederson design any plays to have Wentz outside of the pocket where he excels. Wentz also was rarely in the shotgun formation for large portions of the game. Pederson continually had Wentz under center running play-action of seven step drops when the Eagles offensive line was performing poorly. The unimaginative play-calling did not do the Eagles any favors on Sunday and that falls squarely on Doug Pederson’s shoulders.

First and Second Down

The Eagles also had major issues with success on first down plays and second down plays. The Eagles had 17 first down plays which combined for 69 yards or around 4 yards a play. The bigger problem was that 56 of those yards came on two of those first downs. The other 15 first down plays averaged 1.1 yard per play. Second down plays were not any better as the Eagles averaged only 2 yards per play on 11 total plays. The failure of the 1st and 2nd down plays left the Eagles in plenty of third and long situations, with the average 3rd down play being 3rd and 11. The Washington Football team was able to get the Eagles into obvious passing situations which was a huge advantage with the Eagles battered offensive line.

Carson Wentz

In spite of all that went wrong with the play-calling and the offensive line troubles, the majority of the damage was caused by Carson Wentz. We went into detail about the areas Wentz needed to improve in a previous article on the Brawl Network. Major issues that Wentz has had throughout his career such as holding on to the ball too long, missing receivers high, and fumbling reared their ugly head on Sunday.

Wentz had opportunities to put the game away and failed to do so. The fifth year quarterback should be better about protecting the football. Wentz has shown he still has growth to do. There is no doubt about it, Wentz should not be making these mistakes especially if the Eagles want to make the playoffs.

Perhaps the lack of preseason and the week he missed from training camp affected his performance. The fact of the matter is that he needs to perform much better and he will. Wentz is too good to play as poor as he did for 2.5 quarters on Sunday. The good news is that Wentz has 15 more games to wipe the memory of this game away.

This poor performance of course led to some hot takes from Philadelphia sports media and fans alike.

Overreaction Monday

Win-Loss Ratio

The loss to Washington has shell-shocked the city of Philadelphia. There are some sports media and fans are actually questioning whether Wentz is actually a good quarterback and whether the Eagles should look to move on from Wentz in the future.

Anybody who is having this thought is suffering from a classic case of overreaction Monday.

Elite Quarterback

There is a notion that elite quarterbacks dont play as poorly as Wentz did on Sunday especially in their fifth season. However, there have been plenty of fifth year “elite” quarterbacks who have had worse games in their fifth season, in fact many had multiple games that were worse. A sample of “elite” quarterbacks in their fifth season:

Cmp Att % Yds   Td     Int   Rating
Drew Brees 2006 13 32 40.6% 132 1 0 63.5
Drew Brees 2006 21 38 55.3% 207 0 1 59.9
Matt Ryan 2012 24 37 64.9% 249 1 3 59.4
Ben Roethlisberger 2008 29 41 70.7% 280 0 3 59.0
Russell Wilson 2016 22 39 56.4% 240 1 5 43.7
Tom Brady 2005 22 40 55.0% 248 1 4 42.5
Matt Ryan 2012 28 46 60.9% 301 0 5 40.5
Russell Wilson 2016 17 33 51.5% 151 0 2 38.8
Ben Roethlisberger 2008 13 29 44.8% 189 1 4 38.5

Win-Loss

To use a quarterbacks win-loss ratio as your main argument to determine quarterback play quality is uneducated. Suggesting Wentz is a mediocre quarterback also ignores how well he has performed the past two seasons despite a less than ideal supporting cast as detailed here.

Wentz is also not the first above average quarterback to have a sub-par win-loss ratio over two seasons; as seen in other recent examples:

W L  T % Rating Seasons
Ben Roethlisberger 15 14   51.7% 94.2 2012-2013
Carson Wentz 14 14   50.0% 95.7 2018-2020
Tony Romo 16 16   50.0% 95.8 2011-2012
Kirk Cousins 15 16   1   46.9% 96.9 2017-2018
Andrew Luck 10 12   45.5% 88.9 2015-2016
Drew Brees 14 17   45.2% 99.9 2014-2015
Aaron Rodgers 10 12   1   43.5% 97.5 2017-2018
Cam Newton 13 19   40.6% 85.3 2011-2012
Matt Stafford 9 14   1   37.5% 95.4 2018-2019
Matt Ryan 10 22   31.3% 91.7 2013-2014
Philip Rivers 9 23   28.1% 91.9 2016-2017

Even Hall of Fame quarterbacks are not exempt from sub-par win-loss ratios over multiple seasons:

W L % Seasons
John Elway 23 23   50.0% 1988-1990
Jim Kelly 28 29   49.1% 1986-1989
Dan Marino 29 31   48.3% 1986-1989
Troy Aikman 24 28   46.2% 1997-2000
Kurt Warner 32 41   43.8% 2002-2009
Warren Moon 43 56   37.5% 1984-1990
Brett Favre 12 20   36.8% 2005-2006

Having a mediocre win-loss ratio over a couple of seasons does not mean the quarterback is mediocre. Anybody who says it does is just pushing an agenda.

Quarterback Controversy

As with any season in Eagles history, the most popular guy on the team is the back-up quarterback and Eagles fans love a quarterback controversy. There is no controversy in Philadelphia and there should not be anytime soon. It does not matter that the Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round, Wentz is the Eagles present and future. One horrible game does not change that.

Conclusion

The Eagles lost a game they should win 100 out of 100 times, but they didn’t. Wentz played about as poor as a quarterback can for a 2.5 quarters. However, working in the Eagles favor is the fact that they do have an above average quarterback in Carson Wentz and an above average coach in Doug Pederson. They will work together to figure out what went wrong and improve it. Things are not getting any easier with the Los Angeles Rams coming to town next week, but Wentz and Pederson will be up to the task. The Eagles media nor the fan-base should be waiving the white flag on the team or Carson Wentz. The sky is not falling Eagles Nation.

The one good thing for the Eagles that happened Sunday was that the Cowboys lost as well. That always helps ease the pain.

 

 

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