As Eagles fans, we all felt the embarrassing season-opening loss against Washington was one of the harder pills to swallow. Not only did we lose to a franchise that had failed in their last six matchups with the Eagles, but we lost in true Philadelphia fashion by giving up 24 unanswered points after being up 17-0. Of course, after this game, fans began to point fingers at who was to blame. And after such a disastrous performance, many fans pointed their fingers immediately at the Eagles’ fifth-year quarterback, Carson Wentz.
There is no denying that Wentz started this game off very strong. The QB fired out of the gate by going 12-15 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. There was a feeling that Wentz was back, and just watching him, at that time, you could see a certain poise that he had in the pocket and even rolling outside the pocket. He looked good. However, as the Eagles approached the end of the first half, Wentz threw a pick that began an onslaught of poor decisions and bad throws. It was almost as if someone had flipped a switch. Wentz went from looking like a stud to a dud in just one quarter. So, what did we see, and what needs to be changed by Carson Wentz moving forward?
First off, we must recognize that Wentz cannot be and is not going to be the same magician he was during his MVP run back in 2017. After Sunday’s loss to Washington, one can see that if Wentz is going to stay healthy, he is going to have to throw the ball away and think less short-term about each play. Granted, the Eagles offensive line was in arguably the most banged-up state we have seen in a long time, but there were many plays where Wentz should have just thrown the ball away. Yes, there were eight sacks on the game—the most times Wentz has been sacked in a single game in his career. However, Wentz is a franchise quarterback who recently had a big payday. He must keep his composure regardless of the number of hits. Hopefully, this was just first-game jitters, but let’s take a closer look.
The very first sack of the game, you can see Wentz look right, then look left, then pump the ball, and then try to duck underneath the tackle, but he gets swallowed up by the defense.
In the second sack, Wentz steps back and settles in the pocket with his eyes downfield ready to throw, then he backpedals five yards and gets sacked. You can see Wentz try to make something happen on his feet and at the very end of that play, but it is too late.
There is a pattern in these sacks that just does not make sense. A sack later on in the game has Wentz winding up for a deep ball with plenty of time to throw; however, Wentz hesitates and takes the sack instead.
Added to this, obviously, are the two interceptions that happened in this game as well. The issue on these picks was not that Wentz was trying to force the ball into tight coverage or on a route miscue, it was that he seemed to just float the ball over to the receiver or just throw the ball too late. If you look at the first interception Washington had, Wentz throws the ball as if the receiver is on the run and is going to catch the ball over the shoulder. The throw is actually being made to Raegor on the sideline after cutting back toward the ball. It is just a lazy throw that does not make sense.
Regardless, it is clear that there needs to be some changes made by Carson Wentz in his style of play. There has to be an understanding between his body and mind that, if he wants to keep playing at this level, adjustments must be made. Wentz is one of the most competitive and “go for it” guys in the NFL, but he does not need to be the hero on every play. Wentz must focus on adapting a play style that can keep him a star in this league—one that revolves around not making every play like it is his last, looking at the game from a bigger picture, and maybe not getting that second and five on a play but throwing the ball out of bounds, maybe resulting in a first down and more on the next. Looking at the game as a whole instead of play by play is a skill young QBs need to have to take them to the next level. Yes, Wentz can still make the magic happen on some of those plays if they are available, but not if he is trying to make something out of nothing.
I am not saying that Wentz should throw the ball out of bounds every time he is in trouble, but I am saying that—sometimes—it HAS to be done. Some will say that Wentz has a style of play imbedded in him and he will not change. I disagree. Every great athlete, especially one that has a talented mind, can adapt and progress. It’s part of the game. This is not the end of the world, and it most certainly is not the end of Carson Wentz.