Pederson Plans to Ease Up on Wentz
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If words are any indication, Doug Pederson has learned a few things after his rookie year as a head coach.
One freshman had another as his on-field leader and instead of allowing Carson Wentz to dangle his feet in the water and adjust, Pederson threw the No. 2 overall pick into the deep end of the pool.
Wentz swam at times and was barely treading water at others as he threw the football an astonishing 607 times, an NFL rookie record. That, despite possessing perhaps the worst receiving group in the NFL, a modest running game and enduring the 10-game suspension of the Eagles' best offensive player, right tackle Lane Johnson.
And oh yeah, Wentz was supposed to be redshirting as the third-string QB until eight days before the regular season when Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota.
"Everything doesn’t have to fall on Carson’s shoulders and I think sometimes a little bit last year he felt that way and things had to fall his way a little bit to make a play and I don’t think we have to do that this year," Pederson admitted when talking with CSNPhilly earlier this week.
To call Wentz's job untenable last season is being kind but he fought his way through it and is now preparing in Fargo for his second training camp as a pro, set to begin July 24 at the NovaCare Complex.
Howie Roseman attempted to address the deficiencies around Wentz during the offseason and the skill-positions players around the signal caller will include free-agent receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, as well as veteran running back LeGarrette Blount, all significant upgrades on paper.
“I think you can take a little bit off of Carson," Pederson said. "What I mean by that is I don’t think you have to load his plate every Sunday. I think now with the addition of LeGarrette Blount in the running game and the receivers we have, I think now that you have opportunities to take a little pressure [off]."
Improvement from disappointing third-year receiver Nelson Agholor as well as contributions from rookie wideout Mack Hollins and freshman running back Donnel Pumphrey could also factor in at some point. Then there are the two mainstays, tight end Zach Ertz and slot receiver Jordan Matthews.
"I think we can be patient," Pederson said. "We still want to be ball-control like we were last year, but I think now with the opportunities we have, that he has, creating plays I think it will just benefit Carson and the team as a whole."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen