I have been meaning to write about this subject for far too long. Every time I see someone criticize Carson Wentz online they will almost always say, 'he turns the ball over way too much, he only had 14 touchdowns but he had 14 interceptions, and 14 fumbles'. I wanted to look at all of Wentz' turnovers to see if they were all his fault and if we should be concerned. I am going to split this into two posts, this one will be on Wentz' interceptions and the next post will focus on his fumbles.
I have looked back over all of Carson Wentz' interceptions from last year and looked at whether they were his fault or not and also how they came about. I have not posted a clip of every turnover but I will post a few. I wanted to see if there was any reason to be legitimately concerned about Wentz' turnovers.
Week 5 vs Lions: Wentz' first interception came at the end of the game. He gave Agholor a chance to make a big play and sadly Agholor couldn't make a play. The decision to throw was not ideal but Agholor should have stopped it being picked off. Overall this was Wentz' fault but he didn't misread the coverage or anything, he was just a bit too aggressive. For all my thoughts on this play, check out my film review of the game.
Week 7 vs Vikings: Wentz had 2 picks this game. The first one wasn't great, again he didn't misread the coverage he just overthrew Celek on a short stick route. Celek had no separation so Wentz tried to lead Celek but the ball was overthrown and it ended up getting picked by the safety.
The second one was a weird one because I think one of Agholor or DGB ran the wrong route as they ended up in the same place. Anyway, Wentz tried to squeeze it through a tight gap and hit Agholor on a deep crossing route against cover 2. Agholor didn't get separation and Rhodes made a great diving interception, Wentz was just too aggressive again.
Week 9 vs Giants: 2 picks this game again. The first one was a disaster, he scrambled outside the pocket when he didn't need to and then just overthrew Agholor as he was under pressure. This is the kind of play that concerns you, but luckily there weren't many interceptions like this.
On the second one, Wentz tried to throw it to DGB on an in route but he had no separation (shock!). Wentz overthrew him and the safety behind made the interception.
Week 11 vs Seahawks: 2 picks this game. The first one was on the dagger concept. I wrote in detail about this play here because it fascinated me. I don't think this was a terrible play by Wentz, he should have seen Kam Chancellor but it was such a great play by Chancellor. I'll put this play down as misreading the coverage but it was a really great play by Chancellor to recognize the route concept and jump the route.
The second one was another overaggressive throw by Wentz. He tried to throw it deep to Treggs against cover 1 and he shouldn't have. Treggs could have done more to stop it being picked but it wasn't a great decision, Wentz was also under pressure. This is another example of Wentz trusting his receivers too much.
Week 12 vs Packers: Here Wentz just overthrew Ertz by a distance and the ball got picked by the safety. This was his worst throw in terms of overthrowing his receiver, it was just a terrible throw.
Week 13 vs Bengals: Wentz had 3 picks this game. The first one wasn't his fault, as he was releasing the ball his arm got hit because Allen Barbre got beat at right tackle and the ball looped up and landed in the arms of Burfict.
The second one was brutal. He tried to squeeze a ball to Ertz on a seam route against cover 2 and overthrew him which meant the safety could pick him off. This was a bad decision and throw.
The third one wasn't great either. Wentz tried to throw a quick slant to Ertz as he thought Burfict was blitzing but Burfict was watching Wentz the whole time and he stepped in front of the route and picked if off. This was a bad decision and he misread what Burfict was doing on the play.
Week 14 vs Redskins: The Eagles were in a 3x1 formation and Ertz was aligned as the receiver by himself on the left side of the field. Wentz correctly made the decision to throw it to Ertz (Ertz was 1v1 and it was a 3-step drop so Wentz correctly got the ball out on time) but Ertz didn't get any separation and I think there was confusion amongst the two about where the ball was supposed to go. Ertz wanted the ball on his back shoulder but Wentz wanted Ertz to come underneath the defender. It's impossible to know whose fault this was without knowing what Wentz and Ertz are coached to do when the cornerback has inside leverage like he did here, but it wasn't a bad decision to throw by Wentz.
Week 15 vs Ravens: This might have been Wentz' worst interception. He was under pressure and he just threw it to Trey Burton despite the fact a linebacker was standing right in front of the route. This was just a bad decision and he completely misread the coverage and panicked under pressure. This is the type of interception I hate because it shows panic under pressure but there wasn't many interceptions like this which is good to see.
Week 16 vs Giants: This was a bizarre play. Wentz scrambled around for about 10 seconds and launched it downfield to Bryce Treggs who made no attempt to come back to the ball, which meant Rodgers-Cromartie could jump the route and pick it off. This is another case of Wentz getting no help from his wide receiver and also being a little bit too aggressive.
- Only 3 of Wentz' interceptions came in the 4th quarter and 5 of them came in the 1st quarter. I think this shows that Wentz had some rookie nerves at the start of games but rarely collapsed at the end. At least if you're getting picked off early you have a chance to make up for it!
- Only 3 interceptions by Wentz came when he was under pressure. This can be seen as good or bad news I guess, but I'm glad he wasn't someone who crumbled when he was under pressure.
- Wentz rarely seemed to misread the coverage post-snap, it's impossible to tell exactly but I think only 3 interceptions came because Wentz misread the coverage which is good. I think Wentz was really aggressive throwing down the seam against cover 2 and this caused him problems at times but hopefully he will now recognize that the safety play in the NFL is a lot better than it was in college.
- The biggest problem was Wentz overthrowing a receiver which is something he absolutely has to clean up next year. This happened because of his bad mechanics so it should be something he can fix.
- Wentz was definitely overaggressive at times last year and trusted his wide receivers too much. This hurt him this past year, but I think it will help him in the future when he has receivers who can go up and make a play, like Alshon!
- You could argue that 5 interceptions could have been prevented. Bryce Treggs could have done more to prevent 2 interceptions, Agholor could have done more to prevent 1, Ertz could have done more to prevent 1 and Wentz could do nothing when Allen Barbre got beat and the ball looped up in the air as he was hit when releasing the ball. But all quarterbacks have interceptions that aren't entirely their fault so.
I'm not concerned by Wentz' interceptions. 14 is a relatively standard amount for a rookie quarterback and Wentz threw the ball a ridiculous 607 times, which was 5th highest in the league last year. Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Eli Manning, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer all threw 14 or more interceptions last year. I looked at other rookie quarterback's interception numbers since the year 2000 to compare Wentz to them (thanks to Joe Dolan for helping me with the numbers, I'm terrible on PFR) and this made me feel even better about Wentz' interception total. 14 interceptions are pretty normal for a rookie quarterback starting 16 games and Jameis Winston, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer and Matthew Stafford all threw more interceptions in their rookie season than Wentz.
I would much rather my rookie quarterback throw interceptions because his mechanics were off and he overthrew a receiver than throw interceptions because he crumbles under pressure or constantly misreads the defense. 14 interceptions isn't a terrible amount, but I think Wentz should be able to cut down on them next season by a couple. Wentz will always be an aggressive thrower and will always give his receiver a chance to make a play on the ball which will lead to turnovers at times, but that's fine by me as you need to be aggressive to be a great quarterback in this league!