‘Not Far Off’ Says Carson Wentz, Eagles Half-Game Back in NFC East

Carson Wentz

Getty Eagles QB Carson Wentz has struggled in the pocket this year and leads the NFL with six interceptions.

There appear to be too many cooks and not enough ingredients in the Eagles’ offensive kitchen.

That was the knock on the team’s collaborative coaching staff heading into the season, perhaps all those innovative minds would bubble the cauldron over. Carson Wentz didn’t come right out and say that, but his comments seemed to suggest that might be the case. If so, it could be an unsavory recipe for disaster that keeps the Eagles from tasting the postseason.

“There’s a lot of opinions and a lot of really smart football minds on the offensive side of the ball, and how we can mesh everybody’s thoughts together and everything,” Wentz told reporters on Wednesday. “Obviously Coach [Doug] Pederson really sets the tone and has the final say on everything.”

The franchise quarterback wasn’t listing it as a problem but his phrasing was a bit awkward, especially following reports of an internal power struggle within the organization. Wentz went on to say the communication with all the coaches has been “really good throughout.”

It seems to be just a matter of incorporating everyone’s ideas — Duce Staley, Rich Scangarello, Jeff Stoutland, Press Taylor, Marty Mornhinweg, Andrew Breiner — into one cohesive voice. Pederson ultimately polishes the gameplan and calls the plays on gameday.

“It’s been really good, you know, and so I don’t want to overthink it,” Wentz said. “I know coaches and everybody don’t want to overanalyze everything because, like I said, we’re not far off. We just have to protect the football and execute at a high level and I think we can do that.”

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‘Times When He Needs to Make The Play’

Pederson gave Wentz a resounding vote of confidence on Wednesday, saying he wants to put the ball in his quarterback’s hands as much as possible. The duo has been attached at the hip since the Eagles drafted Wentz with the second overall pick in 2016. Remember, they won a Super Bowl together and Wentz was gunning for MVP that year.

But there is something rotten in the state of Wentz-sylvania, perhaps that foul odor has strained their relationship ever so slightly. After heaping Liberty Bell-sized kudos on Wentz, the Eagles head coach admitted that, yes, there are times when the quarterback simply needs to make the play and complete the throw.

“And then, honestly, I mean, and Carson would agree that there are times when he needs to make the play,” Pederson said. “He just needs to complete the ball, throw the ball and we need to make those plays. It’s a little of both, but that’s why we practice and get ready for games.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Wentz had four turnover-worthy plays last week en route to a passing grade of 43.9 and his turnover-worthy play total of 12 is over twice as many as any other quarterback in the NFL. Wait, there’s more:

That also helped lower his season passing grade to 40.1, just a hair above Dwayne Haskins for the worst in the league. Wentz has been completely unable to throw the ball downfield effectively and has on numerous occasions passed up on open receivers. On throws of 10-plus yards, Wentz has the lowest passing grade in the NFL at 33.9 and has thrown 62.2% of such passes completely uncatchable. That’s over 12 percentage points worse than anyone else.

Knowing When to Hold ‘Em, When to Fold ‘Em

Wentz tried to explain how he balances what to do when protections break down in the pocket. It’s a “tough balance” about knowing when to scramble versus when to throw it away.

The quarterback has to assess each situation differently while accounting for variables like down and distance, play-calling, and natural instincts. It’s a tedious, in-the-moment process.

“It’s definitely a tough balance and sometimes it’s knowing the down and distance,” Wentz said. “Sometimes it’s knowing it’s third down, feel free to be aggressive, and try and make the play, and sometimes it’s just knowing when to end and live to fight another down. There’s always things to think about it but it all comes down to instincts and playing fast and making plays — and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Earlier in the week, Pederson suggested he may have to run more up-tempo stuff to slow the game down and limit Wentz from overthinking it.

“I think one of the ways that we do that, and then really to kind of maybe unclutter his mind some is to play fast, play up-tempo where players don’t have to think,” Pederson said. “They just react. And that has been a recipe for us over the years, and it’s something that we may have to lean on a little bit more.”

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