Inside the Numbers: Carson Over Cam
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — The Eagles are 5-1 and second-year quarterback Carson Wentz outplayed former MVP Cam Newton in Philadelphia's 28-23 win over Carolina on Thursday night.
It's time to start the hype train.
Wentz played one of the best games as a professional in Charlotte and perhaps, more importantly, a clean one. ProFootballFocus.com gave the emerging star an early game grade of 86.6, the best he's looked since early in his rookie campaign when the former No. 2 overall pick took the league by storm.
Wentz was particularly effective throwing the football down the field against the Panthers, completing 7-of-10 passes that traveled more than 10 yards in the air with a passer rating of 145.8 on those throws. His targets on them were varied with Alshon Jeffery getting the most traffic (four) followed by rookie Mack Hollins (two) and Nelson Agholor (two).
Jeffery, meanwhile, got a little bit of a break after being shadowed for the most part in the last three games by top-tier corners, Janoris Jenkins (61 percent of the time), Casey Hayward (74 percent) and Patrick Peterson (78 percent). Carolina didn't move its corners and Jeffery got five of his eight targets in coverage against James Bradberry and two against Kevon Seymour. The success game against the latter as Bradberry shut Jeffery down but the lanky WR got Seymour for gains of 37 and 14 yards.
Wentz's greatest success continues to come when he's got Nelson Agholor in his sights. Wentz had a passer rating when targeting Agholor of 135.4 and through six games that number is 149.0, the best in the entire NFL.
The lone hiccup for Wentz was a third-down completion percentage of 45.4 but that was mitigated by the fact he was pushing the ball down the field, as his average depth on third-down throws was 13.0 yards per attempt.
On defense Fletcher Cox was dominant in his return from a calf injury, recording a sack, a QB hit, and four hurries, The six pressures overall are the most he's had since Week 10 in 2016 versus Atlanta.
Outside of two iffy PI calls on Jalen Mills, the second-year corner has his best game in coverage this season, allowing three receptions on four targets for just 12 yards.
Rookie Derek Barnett hasn't put up big sack numbers but he had the best pressure percentage of any Eagles' defensive lineman against the Panthers (19.4 percent pressure on 31 pass rush snaps).
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen