Wentz is Pressing Without Playmakers
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It's ironic that perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time struggled at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday because he didn't have the weapons to do anything other than that.
And no, one near-MVP run in 2017 does not put you in the GOAT conversation. The above reference is geared at Tom Brady, who was beyond frustrated after the Patriots 17-10 grind-it-out win over the Eagles, a game in which at least some have broached the idea that Carson Wentz isn't all he's cracked up to be for the first time.
Wentz certainly struggled and he's been a .500 quarterback since tearing his ACL back in December of 2017 with fourth-quarter troubles seemingly the one constant.
When the Eagles are within a touchdown in the final frame this season Wentz is just 29-of-55 (52.7 percent) for 332 yards and no touchdowns with a 71.2 passer rating. Overall fourth-quarter numbers are just as poor: 53-for-97 (54.6) for 603 yards with one TD and two INTS for a 68.4 passer rating.
Doug Pederson, a former QB himself, is not the first to point out that the average NFL signal caller gets more credit than he deserves when a team wins and shoulders more of the blame when the outcome is negative.
Once the latest dropped pass in forgotten about, the black and white numbers shape the narrative.
The context says Wentz has thrown three passes this year in big moments which could have been caught to win or deadlock a game, the latest of which was Nelson Agholor on Sunday where you can be the judge:
Overall the embattled Eagles receiving corps is dead last in the NFL with 1,008 receiving yards overall and 31st of 32 in receptions and yards per catch.
Are the troubled the chicken or the egg?
When one option is talented, however, and the other is not the causation isn't exactly a quandary.
While Wentz had more than a few throws that weren't on the money against the Pats, including the three before his on the money Agholor throw, a pair of drops by Nelson and Jordan Matthews, as well as one each by Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz are results that have been all to common this season.
The result is Wentz pressing to make plays and Pederson seems to know it.
“I think maybe as the game progressed, we all maybe felt like there was a little bit of a ‘pressing’ going on. We were trying to make ‘that’ play against that great defense, and you really don't have to do that,” the coach explained.“Just let things unfold."
One of the Wentz criticisms that took root in anonymous quotes to Josina Anderson earlier this year was an unwillingness to check down. CBS analyst Tony Romo took that baton on Sunday when Wentz tried a difficult back-shoulder throw to Matthews [which was on the money and should have been reeled in] vs. an easy completion to Ertz underneath.
“You can just simply take what they give you and move on,” Romo explained. “Move on. It’s a skill they need you to [have]."
The pressing will only stop, however, when the playmakers arrive. Returns of Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Howard will help but more needs to be done for Wentz in the future
“Even though he touches the ball [every play], and he is the quarterback, and we ask him to do a lot, just let the offense kind of work and let the guys around you make the plays,” Pederson said. “I think that’s a takeaway.
"... I keep going back to -- and it's not about one guy, as you know, it takes eleven on offense. So we have to do better up front in protection, obviously, the backs have to do a better job there as well and then our skill guys have to get open. So there is a combination of a lot of things that we can all take away from this game."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen