It’s been a brutal first half of the season for Carson Wentz, yet the Eagles somehow (miraculously?) have a strangle hold on the NFC East. They lead the division with a 3-4-1 record, firmly ahead of Washington (2-6).
But the face of the franchise has been an enigma trapped inside a riddle. Wentz has 16 total giveaways, marked by maddening decision-making and inaccurate throws — until the fourth quarter when he has gutted out three wins.
He’s been mentioned in the same breath as Brett Favre and Jamies Winston, comparisons on polar opposite ends of the spectrum but carrying equal parts reward, risk, and truth.
On Tuesday, Eagles passing-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Press Taylor attempted to explain the “fine balance” between reining Wentz in versus letting him stay aggressive.
“Yes, we want Carson to be aggressive. We’re never going to take his stinger out of him,” Taylor told reporters. “We’re not going to rein him in like that, but he has to understand, and he does, that the ball is the priority.
“We are always going to do — whatever we do, whether it’s being aggressive or whether it’s a direct a shot, out-of-pocket decisions, like I said, we always want to make sure we are conscious of ball security first.”
Wentz has thrown 12 interceptions through eight games, along with losing four (out of seven) fumbles. His 58.4 completion percentage and 49.1 QB rating are the lowest of his career.
“He is very aware of it, that’s not what we expect around here,” Taylor said. “That’s not what we preach around here and it’s something we are excited to see going forward how we play the second half of the season.”
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Listening to Coaching, Understanding Mistakes
One common theory for Wentz’s struggles suggests he doesn’t listen to the coaching staff. Perhaps there are too many voices in the room, too many cooks in the kitchen.
The Eagles have six different guys advising on the game plan and chirping in the quarterback’s ear: Taylor, Rich Scangarello, Andrew Breiner, Duce Staley, Marty Morninhweg, plus head coach Doug Pederson. But Taylor wanted to set the record straight on that misconception.
“Everybody is doing a good job kind of filling their role and letting the conversation filter through,” Taylor said. “I would say it probably more so goes through Coach Pederson first and foremost as the play caller. I think the most important thing you can do is have your play caller and quarterback be on the same page all the time and they are doing a good job of keeping that as a priority.”
It’s a truly collaborative process, one that gives everyone an equal voice. And, make no mistake, Pederson has the final say on play-calling.
“Then the rest of us kind of filling in the roles,” Taylor said, “and try to fill in the gaps of communication with Carson as we see fit and I think that’s actually been a smooth process for us so far.”
Update on Jalen Hurts’ Development at QB
The Eagles have limited Jalen Hurts’ role to gadget plays and decoys in his rookie year. The results have been a mixed bag, with his best game coming against the Ravens. His ability to confuse the defense on “ghost sweeps” and “unscouted looks” helped swing momentum.
“We are really excited about him and the development and continues to show,” Taylor said. “But we are very excited about the things he’s done, the things we can continue to do with him, and he’s done a good job of executing when we have asked him to do certain things.”
However, Hurts was drafted to be a true quarterback — he said that, the organization repeated it — and hasn’t really been used that way despite being the No. 2 since Week 2.
So, is he ready to take over should Wentz get hurt? Does he know 100% of the playbook? Taylor was a bit more vague there.
“He’s done a great job of learning our playbook and everything we do and what everything means and why we are doing it,” Taylor said. “But it would always cater regardless of the quarterback, whether it’s Jalen, Nate [Sudfeld], Carson, it will always revolve around their strengths.”
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