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Carson Wentz Report: Week 2

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How did the Eagles signal-caller respond to a heavy workload?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of narratives that have divided the NFL community when it comes to the opinion of Carson Wentz. This will be a weekly installment that focuses solely on the Eagles’ young signal caller, with analysis, evidence and statistics along with context to provide a deep dive on Wentz’s play.

Welcome to Week 2 of the Wentz report. As mentioned above, this is a weekly film room piece that will be used to evaluate Carson Wentz on a week-to-week and cumulative basis. You can find last week’s Wentz report here.

Interceptable Passes (IP)

Each week I present passes that could be deemed interceptable — called IPs for short. These are subjective and each person can view them differently. Some may view them as catchable passes on the wide receiver, but the objective here is to look at the play, the context of the play design and what was supposed to happen. Just because I show a play here does not mean I believe it is an IP, but each one will be noted accordingly. Again, this is completely subjective, and it’s why I show each pass I chart as an IP.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Wentz is just trying to move the ball down the field with only a few seconds left in the half, still this is a wild overthrow that lands in the arms of the defensive back, and ultimately pops into the air into Zach Ertz’s hands. I feel like I’ve seen something similar to this before, where a deflected pass that should've been intercepted goes the other wa....

There we go, even Tom Brady, the greatest to ever play benefits from these plays. Even if the ball is intercepted, it isn't likely at all that this ends up hurting the team, which is what this boils down to.

I believe it would've taken an insane catch for this to be intercepted, so I am not going to chart this as an IP. It’s a tough play to judge because there was contact and a flag probably could've been been thrown for offensive pass interference, but it wasn't. Had it been, I likely would've charted it as an IP, but again this a subjective statistic is a lot of cases and I can see an argument for it being an IP.

I didn't chart this as an IP either. Typically when balls are tipped like this, it’s anyone’s guess as to where they're going. I believe there could've been a better throw here, but just like the Ertz catch, I don't necessarily think that the result is indicative of the play. If we want to criticize a process despite the result, we can also criticize a result despite the process.

This one does go up as an IP, but again, down 14, less than two minutes left, the Eagles had already lost the game and were going to take risky shots downfield. With the pressure collapsing on Wentz he took a deep shot downfield that the safety had a chance to intercept, but it went through his arms. Again, situation and context are important.

Managing the pocket

Isaac Seumalo destroyed this play from the start. The Chiefs only rushed three, and Jason Kelce didn't provide much help. I believe Wentz could've used his athleticism and spun out to his left, but I’m not going to fault him. Jonny Page mentioned in his offensive breakdown, but Kelce and Seumalo are both particularly small for their positions. Compare the size of Brandon Brooks at right guard to Seumalo at left and there’s a noticeable difference. What I will say is Wentz has to be more careful with the ball. All quarterbacks are susceptible to fumbles in the pocket, but the moment he see that red jersey flash to his right, he has to hold onto the ball.

This was another sack that was unavoidable. Seumalo loses again off the snap and as soon as Wentz hits the top of the drop he’s having to elude a man right in his face. There is no where to go with the ball and Dee Ford gets a grown man sack on Wentz.

I thought this was beautiful footwork and subtle movement. The way Wentz moves in the pocket on this play neutralizes the pass rush. This is one of the most encouraging things to see. With how the offensive line has struggled thus far, an assist from the quarterback is always going to help.

It looked like Wentz was getting ready to throw the ball to Ertz crossing the middle, but the ball came out when Brandon Brooks was pushed back into Wentz. It would've been tough, but I feel like if Wentz would slid to the left behind Peters, he could've extended the play and bought himself more time. That still would've been hard because Brooks wasn't in Wentz’s line of vision to see that he was getting pushed like that.

Somebody had mentioned that in addition to sacks that Wentz could have avoided, they wanted to see those that he actually did avoid. In the play above Jason Peters gets beat pretty badly inside and it compromises the whole pocket. Wentz uses his athleticism to avoid the sack, and while doing so, he’s keeping his eyes downfield, still looking to make a play in the passing game.

Slides right, neutralizes the rush and clears a running lane to the right when nothing develops downfield.

Reads, Progression and footwork

I can't take credit for what I’m about to point out, as Fran Duffy made this point on Twitter, but the Eagles are running the Dagger concept, which is a staple of their offense. A slot receiver will run straight up the seam and the outside receiver will run a deep dig route or square in. Last year against Seattle — the second play — Wentz threw an interception on this concept the Cam Chancellor, this year he diagnoses what the Chiefs are doing with the cornerback, Marcus Peters, dropping from the right to the left to undercut the dig if Wentz goes there. Wentz sees that and elects to pull it down and rush for a few yards. That’s a huge step forward, and kudos to Fran.

With the pocket being pushed, Wentz makes the easy throw to move the chains, but I want to focus on his eyes here. You can see him look off the safety Ron Parker by looking to his left, then the middle before moving over to Ertz. This prevents Parker from drifting and potentially disrupting a throwing lane. The Chiefs are playing tight coverage to the other side of the field, but not towards Ertz.

Wentz works through his progression, keeps his feet moving and even hitches up in the pocket as he steps into the throw. These are basic fundamentals you expect from your quarterback but often we’d hear that Wentz locked onto his first target, would stop and think if his first read wasn't there and his feet would get stuck in the mud. If those were your criticisms, Wentz has improved on them through two games to the point that they're looking like irregularities, but time will tell if that holds up.

This is an important play that needs context, otherwise it can be used to drive the narrative Wentz is missing receivers. The running back motions out wide to start and the linebacker kicks out to show Wentz that pre-snap, it’s man coverage. Wentz knows at this point that he’s going to have 1-on-1 matchups across the field. It looks like the objective is to lead the receivers on the left across the field, but the Chiefs drop eight into coverage, taking away the middle of the field. Alshon was open deep but he wasn't in the design of that play to be anything more than the fourth option or to clear out space if the play extended that far. As far as the pocket goes, Wentz could've been more subtle and slid to his right, but either way, he was going to have to scramble to the other side. I thought the throw to Ertz could've been better, but this play was important to point out because the broadcast showed Alshon and Smith open after the play, which is false. By the time Wentz would've been able to realistically throw the ball in the design of the play, neither of those players would've been open and the ball would've likely been put in harms way. Still shots of this play may be used to pile on the narrative that Wentz misses open receivers, but that would be false.

Again, the footwork is much improved so far from year 1 to year 2, but there are still times like this when the feet will stop moving, or lose fluidity. Speaking with Mark Schofield on this matter, he said that there is an improvement, but you want to stay fluid so that you can slide if you need to escape pressure or scramble.

Throwing with anticipation and accuracy

I mentioned this last week, but there were numerous occasions last year in which Wentz was late on a slant throw and it would take away the opportunity for YAC or result in a tough catch that the wide receivers would drop. So far this year, we’re seeing better, consistent throws from Wentz in these intermediate areas. In the play above the Eagles run a simple slant/flat concept. What this does is clear out a defender and open a throwing lane for Wentz. The pass is right on Alshon Jeffery and he doesn't have to reach behind him to grab it.

This is a bit of a nitpick, but Wentz has room to lead Torrey Smith further across the field on this play. Smith did himself no favors trying to spin back around after the catch, but there is a lot of green grass for Smith to keep running into if Wentz hits him in stride and leads him across the field a little more. I think Wentz is still feeling Smith out a little and I’ll elaborate on that. I’m not entirely sure he’s quite acclimated to Smith’s speed and what he brings to the deep passing game. Last week he overthrew him and this week there were a few other plays that appear throughout this article that make you think they're still working on their chemistry. I do want to credit Wentz for keeping the feet moving well through his progressions on this play.

Again, this one nitpicks, but Wentz doesn't lead Ertz into space upfield. The pass is on him, and accurate, not behind him, but theres opportunity for YAC here that is squashed. I thought originally he was trying to eliminate the underneath defenders from getting a hand on it, but from the broadcast angle he gets it pretty well over the linebacker Justin Houston. Again, the result of the play was good, and it’s being picky, but leading receivers into more space can take a quarterback to the next tier. Putting the ball right on the receiver is still an improvement upon throwing it too high and behind him.

Initially, I thought this was an IP, but a closer look shows that it hit Agholor square in the hands, he just drops it. It was a perfect pass, and tough to make with a defender draped on you, but it was a pretty catchable ball. Wentz throws it pretty accurately and based on the broadcast angle it looked like only Agholor would come away with that ball.

Another knock on Wentz was his tendency to sail passes, or for them to be a little high, and that happen here. I can’t tell for sure if Alshon, who is coming on the first slant, is where he wanted to go with this or not, but he freezes and then throws it high for Smith. I’m assuming he wanted Alshon, but middle linebacker Derrick Johnson doesn't bite on the play fake quite as hard and drops into the throwing lane. Wentz then quickly moves to Smith and puts the pass high. The edge defender also jumps to bat the ball down while Wentz is in mid-motion, which may also contribute to him putting that ball high. Another possible explanation is that his stance is too wide and he doesn't get set correctly. I believe that’s the explanation on the high throw.

Here it is again, move though the progressions from left to right, lead Ertz into space for a gain of six yards after the catch, rinse, repeat.

Final touchdown of the game is a nice anticipation throw to Nelson Agholor in the back of the end zone. Wentz works through his progressions on the left, back to the middle of the field where he starts his throwing motion before Agholor gets into his break. The ball is delivered perfectly for a touchdown.

Miscellaneous

The pause on this play was a bit weird, but I’m assuming he waiting for Smith to get further downfield. Based on the position of the corner and receiver, Wentz puts the ball where only his guy can get it. Is it a little high? Yes, but by the nature of the play. That’s still a catchable ball that Smith should have hauled in.

Torrey Smith is on the bad end of another play here. Wentz does an excellent job to pump fake the defender and clear him then he moves to his left and launches downfield. I believe there was an opportunity to lead Smith further down the field into open space and still avoid the safety, but Wentz never fully resets after eluding the rusher. He had time to reset and make this an easier throw, but he didn't know how far behind him that rusher was. Deep in your own territory, that rusher could've knocked the ball loose from behind, and that would be a disaster. A moment was there, but I can't fault Wentz for this. Regardless of how far down the field Wentz leads Smith, that’s easily a catchable ball that Smith should haul in.

1-on-1 situation here, it looks like the Eagles are trying to run a rub route and Wentz hits Alshon on the back shoulder where only his guy is going to make a play. It’s a little under thrown, but the key is only your receiver is going to make a play on the ball and Wentz keeps it out of harms way and capitalizes on the weapon at his disposal.

Watching the broadcast, I thought maybe Bennie Logan had Wentz’s foot, but no, Wentz just threw a really, really bad pass. All aboard the #CarsonCoaster.

After rewatching the tape, I genuinely thought Wentz played a good game. He threw the ball 46 times and I had him down for only two IPs. To drop back and pass 46 times and keep the ball out of harms way like that is remarkable. Wentz does need to work on the fumbles, that appears to be an issue for him that could lead to more trouble down the road.

To go on the road in this environment and play as well as he did with no help from a run game, speaks volumes to who he is as a player and what he can be for the Eagles. There are some breakdowns in nuances, but Wentz is starting to show that they're more of an anomaly instead of the norm. The biggest takeaway is that he’s getting better and showing improvements in areas of weakness, now he needs to sustain them.