Eagles news and notes for 10/21
Carson Wentz is the real deal.
I’ve said that a few times. Fans certainly believe it. Most of the Philly media believes it. Many in the national media believe. It sure seems like Eagles players believe it. The Eagles have found their franchise QB for the foreseeable future. No matter what happens this year, that is great news.
But what about RG3?
Back in 2012 Robert Griffin III was the NFL Rookie of the Year and led the Skins to a 9-6 record. He ran for 815 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and finished with a passer rating of 102.4. RG3 was nothing short of sensational and it looked like he would be the centerpiece of the Skins franchise for a decade.
That’s not what happened. He only started 20 more games in Washington, going 5-15 and being more of a distraction and mediocre player than anything else. What’s to stop something like this happening to Carson Wentz?
Carson Wentz completed just 11 passes in the Eagles’ 27-20 loss to Washington. He misread coverages at times, he held onto the ball for too long — twice resulting in sacks — and he over-threw his targets on several plays.
It was the first game he truly looked like a rookie throughout four quarters, yet he continued to show promise while making plays not many other quarterbacks can make. That’s why Doug Pederson, for one, isn’t worried about Wentz.
“It’s not a concern just because I know Carson and how he handles that and how tough he is on his himself. It is part of a learning process,” Pederson said. “That’s the great thing about Carson is how well he is able to just remember something, fix it, move on and then not do that again.”
When Wentz began to blow up in draft circles after the Senior Bowl in January, scouts praised his big arm and touch on throws down the field. On his 54-yard completion to Jordan Matthews in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Wentz displayed his arm strength, accuracy and anticipation.
When Wentz released the ball, Matthews was still a couple of yards behind the cornerback around Philadelphia’s 40-yard-line, but when Matthews made the catch, the ball was fit perfectly into a tight window around Washington’s 35-yard-line. It was a beautiful ball on third-and-14 that helped set up a field goal.
Doug Pederson called it a "pride thing."
The Eagles' defense is coming off a poor performance against theWashington Redskins in which it yielded 230 yards on the ground. Acknowledging that the D got its "tail kicked up front," the Eagles head coach said the collective breakdown was largely about individual play.
"It comes down to each man taking ownership in their jobs, in their assignments," he said. "As coaches, we've got to make sure our players are in the right positions to make plays. And at the end of the day, it's each man to himself ... and then as a group coming together and making plays."
The 45-yard run by Washington's Robert Kelley in the second quarter provides an example of what Pederson is talking about.
On this zone run play, Bowen explains that Kelley has three options as the offensive line flows to the right: He can bounce it to the outside, bang it up the middle or opt for the cutback. Based in part on what he sees out of the linebackers, he chooses cutback.
FRANK REICH said something about Carson Wentz Thursday that, from an emotional sense, might also be applied to Fletcher Cox. Analyzing the rookie quarterback's response to being hit, harried and hurried over the last two weeks and particularly last Sunday, Reich said, "It usually has an effect on most quarterbacks, to be honest with you. Everybody knows that in this business. You have to regroup from it, but it's hard to stand back there and get hit early and not let it affect you?"
Happy feet. Deer in the headlights. Those are terms of frustration for a quarterback more than they are of fear. Wentz was under siege so often during the first half of Sunday's 27-20 loss to Washington that his feet sometimes shifted unnecessarily in the second half, leading to a few uncharacteristic high and off-the-mark throws.
For Cox, the metaphor used by his position coach also involved a deer, but not one paralyzed by light. Neither feet nor fear are his problem. His challenge has come from the toll an endless stream of double teams and blocking schemes takes when no one on his team takes advantage of such attention.
After a start to his season that seemed to justify every penny of that $103 million contract he signed in June, Cox's major contribution to the final ledger of the last two losses have been dubious ones. Two hits on quarterbacks over the last two games have each revived opponents' drives that ended in touchdowns, contributing to close defeats.
Jim Schwartz isn't one to shy away from expressing himself. He did it on Thursday at his weekly press conference, speaking in critical terms of the way his Eagles defense played Sunday in the loss at Washington, and he's said mostly the same things, in perhaps more colorful language, behind closed doors to his players all week.
"Jim is going to tell you like it is. Always," defensive end Connor Barwin said.
That's just fine with his defense, which allowed 493 total net yards and 230 rushing yards in the defeat. It was a particularly frustrating, painful performance from a defense that had been so good in the first month of the season, and it cast an even greater urgency on this week's game against Minnesota (1 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field).
"Our entire week, that's been our focus. We want to redeem ourselves for Jim and for ourselves," linebackerNigel Bradham said. "It left a nasty taste in our mouths."
From the day Schwartz was hired to run Doug Pederson's defense, Eagles players have talked in excited tones about the aggressive scheme and how the players would be "unleashed" after playing for three seasons in the "read-and-react" defense of Bill Davis, the defensive coordinator under head coach Chip Kelly. There was the move to the 4-3 front, the instructions to play "downhill" football and the mindset of being physical and punishing.
It's all peaches and cream when it works. And, generally, in the history of Jim Schwartz and his defenses, the scheme has worked.
Sunday it didn't.