The Eagles visit the Ravens on Sunday, two teams that have been built differently but have wound up with a similar outcome: a good defense that at times has played great, with an offense that has a struggling run game and a passing game that has had to throw a ton (Joe Flacco leads the league in attempts) but hasn’t been efficient.
In an interview with local media this week, Joe Flacco said he thinks that Wentz having to throw it a ton is actually beneficial.
“It’s good for a young quarterback. It gives him a lot of experience. It will be a good thing moving forward,” Flacco said. “It’s good for your confidence to be relied on to throw the football and I think it will progress him quicker in the long run.”
He’s probably right. At this point in the season, keeping Wentz to 25 attempts probably doesn’t help anyone. We know his receivers are bad. The team knows his receivers are bad. He knows his receivers are bad. His receivers know they’re bad, one spent most of the season on the practice squad, another inactive, a third was benched for a poor play.
There always a concern that passing so much could do a rookie more harm than good, but Wentz hasn’t shown any signs of it. He averaged 44 attempts a game in the six games prior to the Redskins game, which was one of his best games of the year.
The risk of exposing him to injury is real, but you don’t see anyone calling for Jared Goff to be benched for his safety, nor was there clamor for Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota to sit out the end of last year. There’s risk on every play in every sport.
Doug Pederson keeps saying he needs to run it more, and to win he does, but he doesn’t and at this point winning no longer matters, only development does. So embrace it and prep Carson Wentz for 35+ passes a game. Get the bottom of the roster pass catchers in-game experience to see if you have something there. What is there to lose, games?
1 Trey Burton: play the man
We’ve long been Trey Burton fans at BGN, and Sunday’s game was hopefully a breakout for him. His 7 catches for 65 yards weren’t just career highs, they were 20% of his career production. And he added a pinch hit long snapping job to top it off. Trey Burton is a football player. 18 of his 29 catches have resulted in a first down or touchdown. With the Eagles lacking playmakers for Carson Wentz, that’s the next best thing. Get him the ball more.
2 Bryce Treggs too
Another guy who needs more playing time is Bryce Treggs. He saw two snaps against the Bengals, and then three against the Redskins. Perhaps he’s in the dog house, dressing because the Eagles don’t have any other options. If so, with Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, Nelson Agholor and Paul Turner looking ready to go on Sunday, don’t dress him. But if they’re going to dress him, play him. He has done nothing since his 2 catch, 69 yard debut, but defenses respect his speed. Passing the ball is going to help Wentz develop, and having someone that backs the secondary up a little bit is going to help too.
3 Good for Brandon Brooks
It was nice to see so many supportive comments about Brandon Brooks. Mental health is a big issue that lurks in the background of many people’s lives. Getting mad at players for being human doesn’t solve anything. Understanding the issues that many people face, including people you know even if you don’t know it, will help.
4 Ozzie doesn’t do it again
It seems like it wasn’t too long ago that Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome was considered head and shoulders above his peers. Every trade he made was brilliant, every draft pick was exactly the right one, every free agent signing was great.
But not lately. His 2011 draft was pretty productive, but only Jimmy Smith remains on the roster. No one from his 2012 class is still on the team. His 2013 draft produced a few starters, but no one that will knock you over. His 2014 draft has one good player, his 2015 draft has done less than the Eagles’ 2015 draft.
The Ravens rely almost entirely on veterans: Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, Dennis Pitta, Marshal Yanda, Jeremy Zuttah, Eric Weddle, Ladarius Webb and Terrell Suggs are all over 30. They also brought in Ben Watson, who was lost for the season in the preseason. Three of their four wins are against the Browns and Jaguars.
Like a team, no coach or executive is ever as good as they seem at their best, or as bad as they seem at their worst.