As Tyler Jackson said in his last post, we are going to be breaking down some of the Eagles best plays from the 2016 NFL season. This will give us a chance to go in-depth on a few Eagles plays and also break down some of the concepts that the Eagles used a lot last year, both on offense and on defense. The first play I'm going to look at is my favorite throw by Carson Wentz from last year, the 54-yard bomb he threw to Jordan Matthews against the Washington Redskins.
So now you've seen the play, let's look at why I think it's such an incredible play.
The above picture shows the pre-snap picture that Wentz can see and also what the Eagles are running. The Eagles are running the 'Dagger' concept, which involves the outside WR running a deep dig route and the slot receiver running a go route that aims to clear out safeties and linebackers. I spoke a lot about the Dagger concept during the season as it was a staple of the Eagles offense. It looks like the Redskins are going to play cover 2 here, but the safeties could easily rotate to single high coverage after the snap.
With the Dagger concept, you rarely ever see the ball thrown to the slot receiver. He is basically just clearing out space for the deep in. This play works great against cover 1 and cover 2 in particular. Against cover 1, the slot receiver can clear out the deep safety, but it's also great against cover 2/tampa 2 as the slot receiver can force the safety on that side of the field deep and clear out the middle linebacker. The key point is, the ball isn't supposed to go to the vertical route, it pretty much always goes to the outside receiver running the deep in. Carson Wentz has other ideas, however.
This is the picture post-snap. You can see that the Redskins are running cover 2 man and Wentz is reading the strong safety as well as the cornerback covering Jordan Matthews in the slot. You can see that the strong safety is too wide and he's focusing too much on Dorial Green-Beckham on the outside. Wentz sees this and recognizes that he might have a chance to throw the vertical route, but Matthews doesn't look like he's getting separation.
This is the picture as Wentz decides he's going to throw the go route. Jordan Mathews is still a yard behind the cornerback and the strong safety is starting to panic as he's realized that he's way out of position. Jordan Matthews is actually looking back at Wentz at this point which is sort of strange, I'm wondering if he's checking to see if Wentz is going to try and make this throw to him or something considering the position of the safety. Anyway, the fact that Wentz is even attempting to throw this ball is gutsy. He's throwing a go route to the slot receiver against cover 2 man. Also, he's throwing to Jordan Matthews who is hardly a deep threat (this was his only 50+ yard catch of the season) and at this point, Matthews isn't even open. So he's going to have to lead Matthews perfectly and hope that Matthews gets enough separation to make the play.
Here you can see just how close the safety is to making a play on the ball. He's only a yard or two out of position, but Wentz saw that small window and went for it. Matthews only has half a yard of separation by this point too, but it's an absolutely perfect throw by Wentz. Let's watch it again because it's beautiful.
I could watch this play all day. This is such a high-level throw. Most quarterbacks wouldn't even attempt to throw this ball, but this play shows the ability that Wentz has to throw down the field with high-level anticipation and it also shows how he trusts his receiver to make a play for him. I wrote last year that this trust he has in his receivers will harm him in the short term because his receivers aren't very good, but in the long run it will be a good thing. I imagine we will see Dagger run a lot next season, with Torrey Smith or Shelton Gibson running the go route and clearing out space or even getting open deep, and then Alshon Jeffery running the deep in. I can't wait.