Welcome back to this week’s edition of the Wentz Report! As always I’ll be taking a look at Carson Wentz’s performance this and his overall performance throughout the season. We’ve reached the bye week and I think we can finally say that Carson Wentz is for real. He’s an MVP candidate, making all the right reads and leads the NFL in
Dave: Whoa whoa whoa stop. Stop.
Carson Wentz is Actually Bad. Didn't you get the memo?
Tyler: But Dave, he’s leading the NFL in passing touchdowns, has been awesome on third down, is quarterbacking the NFL’s best team and has the air yards to prove it. I don’t understand what you’re saying.
Dave: Tyler, you can’t count touchdowns on drives that started in the red zone. You have discredit Wentz, and only Wentz, for the Eagles defense getting turnovers with really good field position. Touchdowns are bad now. [My fantasy team is begging you to not score TDs Carson, help a guy out with some 40 yard FGs.]
Most TD passes on drive started in red zone since 2001— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) November 7, 2017
2017 Carson Wentz - 5
2001 Brian Griese - 5
2014 Ryan Tannehill - 5
2015 ALEX - 5
Tyler: Now that’s silly. When did good teams stop taking advantage of turnovers? Does that mean the turnover battle no longer matters? Does this make Chip Kelly a good NFL coach since his offense had trouble scoring touchdowns in the redzone? There are so many questions I have now that we’ve established scoring touchdowns in the red zone off of turnovers is bad.
Dave: Sorry man, I don't make the rules. So Wentz doesn't have 23 touchdowns, he has 18. But he doesn't even have that. He was red-hot in October, throwing 14, now 11, touchdowns in 5 games. But it was just a hot streak.
RE Wentz: Rookie season really bad, first month of season bad, last month of season good. Question is whether it's growth or hot streak. https://t.co/37hab0nqRw— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) October 24, 2017
And we can't count hot streaks. Josh McCown had four straight 2+ TD games this season. Does that make him good? No. Nick Foles threw 21 touchdowns in 8 games in 2013. Does that make him good? No. Derek Anderson had 16 TD in 6 games in 2007. Does that make him good? No. So he basically doesn’t have any TDs.
Need I go on?
Tyler: Ok, even if you don’t want to include his touchdowns, he’s still finds ways to extend drives with his legs...
Star Power! pic.twitter.com/kmGciXHNMR— Tyler Jackson (@TjackRH) October 25, 2017
And he’s shown everything you’d want in a QB from arm talent, to pre-snap reads and donates game checks to charity. He’s a winner.
If we want to talk hot steaks how about that hot streak Tom Brady is on where’s he’s thrown for over 20 touchdowns in 15 seasons he’s played entering 2017. Does that count? If not is there any chance we can get that 2005 Super Bowl, or nah?
Back to Wentz, are you saying that he should aim for the consistency of a player like Andy Dalton, or even the great Blake Bortles who Wentz once drew comparisons to?
Would you credit his touchdowns then?
Dave: Joe Flacco is a winner! Eli Manning is too! Look, I'm no QB expert, but these guys say they are.
I can't keep this up anymore, who am I kidding.
These guys are the Info Wars of NFL analysts. Eagles fans, let's just move on from these clowns. They move the goalposts more than a shared NFL/MLS stadium. First it was air yards. Then it was field position. Wentz was bad, then he got hot, oh no now it's just that he finally turned a corner, but to "Andy Dalton in 2015" level of play. At this point, they're just trolling. They like the attention. Let's stop giving it to them.
Until after the season, when we could do a Wentz Report: Receipts Edition.
Tyler: The receipts edition is going to be fantastic. Even those who have deleted tweets aren’t safe, we’ve saved screenshots.
Wentzageddon may top RT Armageddon. Instances like this make me thankful for Twitter’s reluctance to add an edit button.
Back to the Wentz hate, I think we’re all in agreeance that those who tear him down do it for attention and a reaction. The funny thing about it now is seeing their peers tear into their fallacies and openly ridicule/mock them.
The first complaint was of course the air yards, then the “interceptable passes,” which I’ve gone on to chart myself. I have Wentz with 10 on the year, with at least 5 of them coming in the first two games. That would equate to just 5 in Wentz’s last 7 games. So 19 touchdowns with just 5 throws that could have been turned over, I’ll take that nearly 3:1 TD/IP ratio any day of the week, especially when this is a hypothetical, subjective stat.
Dave: "Interceptable passes" is a really good example of the current state of analytics in football (at least the analytics that are publicly available): it's either going down the wrong path, or it's reached its limit of new discovery. I think it's the former, and I'm not sure which is worse. "Interceptable passes" is, as you say, entirely subjective. I'm sure that most people would agree that most of the passes labeled "interceptable" were passes that should have or could have been picked off. But I'm also sure that we wouldn't agree that all of them were. I like what Football Outsiders does with "adjusted" interceptions. But they acknowledge that A) despite their best efforts, it's still subjective and B) it's not definitive. But Cris Collinsworth doesn't own them, so he's not pushing their product on Sunday Night Football.
Instead, viewers are getting junk "stats" that claim to be objective and definitive analysis.
Tom Brady vs. Carson Wentz 2017 @PFF passing grades pic.twitter.com/kB2WKbA40U— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) November 15, 2017
Carson Wentz has 10 TD passes and 0 Int vs. the blitz, the most such TDs wo a pick in a team’s first 9 games since Tom Brady’s 11 in '07.— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) November 6, 2017
PFF grades Carson Wentz as below average against the blitz. ESPN says he has a 10 TD/0 INT ratio against the blitz. PFF's is, or attempts to be, a process stat and ESPN's is an outcome, and it's absolutely possible to have a bad process/great outcome. I mean, Ken Whisenhunt nearly won a Super Bowl. But if Wentz had a bad process/great outcome against the blitz, that would show up elsewhere. But it doesn’t.
He's 10th best in interception percentage and percentage of passes that go for a 1st down, and on 3rd down he has a 125.1 passer rating with 10 TD and 2 INT and just 5 sacks on 82 attempts. PFR breaks down attempts into four different distance categories, Wentz's only one with a completion percentage below 62.6% is downs of 7-9 yards, where he's completing 43.9% of his passes. But he has no interceptions, and his passer rating of 87.4 is respectable. Compare that to truly bad QBs (who have started all season so there's a full body of work, so sorry buddy but no Tom Savage), and you get a category where they're objectively bad. Blake Bortles has a passer rating of 65.7 on downs with 4-6 yards, every other distance is in the 80s, and Joe Flacco is at 65.6 on 10+ yards, all his other categories are at least 74.6. Perhaps PFF is right and Wentz has gotten incredibly lucky against the blitz, but I don't see much evidence of it. And no one has been blitzed more than Wentz, so we're not dealing with a relatively small sample size that can produce wacky outcomes.
And even the stats that have actual use are misapplied. Air yards is a useful descriptive stat, the problem is using it as a predictive one. Last season Kirk Cousins was above average at "Intended Air Yards Per Pass" according to NFL.com, but this year he's one of the worst. Cousins didn't suddenly become Alex Smith, but without DeSean Jackson and with Jay Gruden calling a lot of short passes (3 of the Redskins top 5 pass catchers are a RB or a TE), of course Cousins is going to suffer. His situation is similar to Wentz last year, he's got no help on the outside or deep. But you don't see Cousins being criticized for air yards. Or Wentz this year, since he's 6th best. Behind Tom Savage. LOL TOM SAVAGE BETTER.
Tyler: There’s a lot to unwrap there.
Starting with interceptable passes, I agree. I’ve applied it to the Wentz Report because I believe it’s been used as a way to discredit Wentz while hording that subjective information to prop up a biased narrative. When you use interceptable passes as your best indicator of QB performance, you’ll fall in love with the Sam Bradfords and Alex Smiths of the world.
Again, air yards is also silly. Charting what part of the field a QB throws to and how often they do so holds up better than air yards. Cousins is a good example. One pass could travel five yards, while another could travel 45 and the statistic becomes inflated.
I agree with your assessment on blitzing. If Wentz is the most blitzed quarterback, then eventually he would regress to the norm. You just simply don’t get that lucky. It’s like winning 10 games by three points in a given year, it usually regresses to the mean. Just from studying tape, the times Wentz has “struggled” against the blitz, there’s typically nowhere to go with the ball, not even a hot read. Just as with any statistic, it has to be married with evidence on film one way or another. When there’s nobody open and the blitz/pressure arrives, the smart thing for a quarterback to do is throw the ball away, and occasionally take a sack. That’s better than throwing an interception, isn’t it? The box score, or advanced statistics only see that as an incompletion or sack, not as the right decision based on the circumstances.
Mentioning Tom Savage reminds me of something. During training camp he mentioned only drinking one cup of coffee before practice because he could be fined for his weight. How many players do you think have clauses like that, outside of Eddie Lacy and Dontari Poe?
Dave: I’d like to think Beau Allen has a clause that he has to keep his belly above a certain minimum. He seems like a guy who has tested the limits of “all you can eat” and I say that in the nicest way possible.
Tyler: Well, I think that covers all of the necessary points for this week’s Wentz Report. Now that we’ve had two weeks to sit back and laugh at the circus in Dallas, what predictions do you have? It appears our favorite former GM Mike Lombardi is targeting Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett now, calling him “The clapper.” Since I anticipate this game being a blowout in favor of the Eagles, let’s go with some over/unders.
Number of times the broadcast catches Jason Garrett clapping: 2.5
Number of sacks Dak Prescott takes: 2.5
Number of times the camera pans to Jerry Jones holding an Ezekiel Elliott fathead: 2
Number of times Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth make excuses for the Cowboys being down 20 points despite those same excuses being applicable to the Eagles: 5.5
Number of graphics comparing Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott: 2.5
Number of times gripes for a flag on an imaginary PI: 7.5
Personally, I’m going over, over, over (this would be pretty hilarious), over, under, and over considering Bryant will see about eight targets and beg for a flag on each of them.
Dave: I’ll go over, over, under, under, way the hell over, and over.