Just a few minutes after Eagles head coach Doug Pederson announced that Carson Wentz was cleared and would be back in the starting role for Philadelphia, Pederson was asked about how much can realistically be expected from the QB his first week back.
The question was based off of comments made by tight end Zach Ertz, who tried to tame teammate and fan expectations. Ertz noted that Wentz isn’t Superman, and there are still things that he will need to work on and that the team will need to improve, even after the QB is back on the field.
Pederson echoed Ertz, stating that Wentz’s return is exciting for everyone, but he’s not going to come back and look like he did last year, or that all of a sudden they aren’t going to have issues with open targets downfield or with the offensive line letting defenders through. Those things will still be there until they as a team work to eliminate the mistakes and be more productive.
So, at the end of the day — and following the team’s first loss since the Super Bowl win — how much will Carson Wentz’s return help the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles?
Still, a lot.
Aggressive play style
Some incredible things happen in football when a quarterback has confidence in his receivers to make contested catches. It’s rare that you’re going to have guys a few steps ahead of the secondary, or completely open mid-field, but having the confidence that the target will run his route correctly and end up where he should, is much easier said than done for quarterbacks.
Wentz has always had a good relationship with his receivers, and trusts them to make big plays. He may not have hosted his offensive weapons in North Dakota this offseason, but a lot of time was spent rehabbing in Philly and relationships developed and grew in his time in the locker room and in film sessions.
He might not have Alshon Jeffery downfield (yet) but he is incredibly familiar with Nelson Agholor, and has that kind of trust to just let the ball loose downfield. He also has a great relationship with Ertz, which should really help build the tight ends game, which has started fairly slow this season.
Eagles QB Carson Wentz has been medically cleared for contact and will start Sunday against the Colts.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 17, 2018
Over the last 2 regular seasons, the Eagles have averaged 2 more yards per pass attempt with Wentz on the field, but the rushing game also was helped with Wentz on the field. pic.twitter.com/IES1mLX1N7
If it felt like an eternity between when the ball was snapped and when Nick Foles made the decision to throw it these past two games, you are not alone. Sure, Foles split reps during training camp with Wentz, but it seemed like he wasn’t quite prepared to make quick decisions after the snap.
Carson Wentz is not that guy. Credit to his preparedness, or just his personality, Wentz trusts his targets and knows where the ball should go early on in plays. Alluding to his penchant to be aggressive (above), he carries that same type of confidence from the huddle to the snap, and then in each second off the clock after that.
Wentz in '17 vs Foles in '18— Kyle (@IgglesNest) September 17, 2018
2.72 seconds to throw vs 2.98
-2.3 Air Yards Differential vs -3.4
+.8 Yards To Stick vs -2.1
Wentz got the ball out faster, completed more deep passes, and wasn't throwing short of the sticks.
Part of the reason we all missed Carson Wentz so much at the end of last season, were those random, non-designed moments when a play seemed dead, and then out pops the QB from a pile of defenders to move the chains and keep the Eagles in contention.
It wasn’t just once or twice that Wentz delivered these highlight-worthy moments, he does so regularly, and it’s that x-factor that is desperately needed to bring to life a seriously deflated offense.
From injuries to just downright being ineffective, the list of grievances thus far by the Eagles’ offense is long; Wentz won’t be the end all cure to these issues, but he will go a long way in righting the ship.