It’s no secret the Eagles offensive line has been decimated by injuries this season. They were losing guys before they even started training camp and the list only grew from there. Philadelphia is down to just one original starter (Jason Kelce) from what Pro Football Focus voted the best offensive line in football two years running.
Wentz had been sacked a league-high 25 times in six games, within striking distance of his 16-game total of 37 in 2019. So while it’s true the Eagles’ patchwork line hasn’t given him much time, Wentz needs to understand the pressure is coming and get rid of the football as soon as plays break down. Wentz has a 59.3% completion percentage on third down while absorbing nine sacks.
“Everyone one of them is different. You get to the end of the game and there might be a couple of sacks, might be a handful of them, are on me,” Wentz told reporters on Tuesday. “They might be on third down, you know, instead of throwing it away I’m trying to make a play, trying to make something happen. Those are all ones we can learn from every single time.”
The franchise quarterback acknowledged some of that learning starts with him, too. It’s not like teams are blitzing the Eagles to death. Thirteen of those 25 sacks has come against a normal rush. Wentz needs to make the process quicker and make smarter decisions.
“We can clean it up. We can clean it up by making the protection calls faster, by not holding onto the ball and trying to make a play,” Wentz said. “It is part of the game and it is something we all got to clean up and we will.”
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Wentz Feeling the Bumps & Bruises
Sideline reporter Howard Eskin commented that Wentz was holding his side and in pain during last week’s loss. The Eagles quarterback never complained or came out of the game, but he took a beating. Wentz was sacked six times, got hit 16 times and was the victim of two roughing-the-passer calls. On Tuesday, Wentz said he felt good but admitted that “you always feel” those extra bumps and bruises.
“You always got bumps and bruises from games, and you always feel it a little more on a Thursday night game,” Wentz said. “It’s a quick turnaround, but I feel good. I’m fortunate that I’m still playing and feeling great. No excuses, I’ll be just fine once I get out there.”
Part of the reason why starts with his recovery process. As soon as the game ended, Wentz was in the locker room stretching and working to get his body feeling right. That attention to detail becomes even more important on a short week.
“It’s still Tuesday … quick turnaround, I’m trying to convince my body that it’s Friday,” Wentz said. “I think that’s the challenge for everybody on these short weeks. You play a lot of snaps in a game and got to turnaround on Thursday night. It can be a challenge but that’s a big point of emphasis. Maximize your recovery.”
Offensive Line Under Construction Again
The Eagles are banking on the return of right tackle Lane Johnson and right guard Matt Pryor this week to bolster their confidence. Johnson (ankle) was a limited participant at Tuesday’s walk-through while Pryor carried no injury designation after previously being on the COVID-19 list. The team is hoping the starters are: LT Jordan Mailata, LG Nate Herbig, C Jason Kelce, RG Matt Pryor, RT Lane Johnson.
However, things could change in an instant if Pryor produces a positive COVID-19 test tomorrow. Or if Johnson has more complications from his tightrope surgery. There isn’t too much depth behind anyone due to all the injuries. Veteran guard Jamon Brown looked horrendous last week versus Baltimore and rookie tackle Jack Driscoll is reportedly out two weeks with an injured ankle.
That leaves untested youngsters, Sua Opeta and Brett Toth, neither of which has ever started an NFL game. Toth did take over for Driscoll at right tackle in Week 7 and played 17 decent snaps. But the Eagles don’t have many options right now. The offensive line is what it is.
“You roll with the circumstances and try and do the best you can and find a way to get it done,” Kelce said. “I have been honestly quite happy with a number of the guys who have come in and played. Some of these young guys have gone in and battled and have done a great job.”
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