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Carson Wentz brings aggression that the Eagles’ offense has lacked with Nick Foles

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Two indicators that Wentz is going to challenge defenses more...

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the Week 3 showdown with the Indianapolis Colts, the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles are in need of an offensive spark. Surrounded by a unit plagued by injuries and uncertainty at both wide receiver and running back, franchise quarterback Carson Wentz is in an unenviable position. But he has two things working in his favor that Nick Foles has been missing through two weeks.

The Eagles’ wide receivers, a mix of beat up and rag tag bunch outside of Nelson Agholor, have struggled mightily to separate and create clear looks. Even Agholor has been less effective in this regard. NFL Next Gen Stats have him at 2.4 average yards of separation compared to last years’ 3.0. Thankfully this is a small sample size and Zach Ertz helps with his 3.8 average. Outside of them, coverage units have been the white to their rice.

Faced with that lack of performance from his targets, Foles has been hesitant and gun shy. According to Pro Football Focus, Foles has held onto the ball for an average of 2.76 seconds, which ranks 27th of 31 and is certainly not by design. Making matters worse, when he’s been presented with tight window throws, he balks.

With Wentz’s return, that’s about to change. With a cannon for an arm and a fearless mentality, he is far more willing to fit throws into smaller windows and the data bears that out. Let’s compare the two, but first, the definitions for the data presented from NFL Next Gen Stats.

Aggressiveness (AGG%)

Aggressiveness tracks the amount of passing attempts a quarterback makes that are into tight coverage, where there is a defender within 1 yard or less of the receiver at the time of completion or incompletion. AGG is shown as a % of attempts into tight windows over all passing attempts.

Air Yards to the Sticks (AYTS)

Air Yards to the Sticks shows the amount of Air Yards ahead or behind the first down marker on all attempts for a passer. The metric indicates if the passer is attempting his passes past the 1st down marker, or if he is relying on his skill position players to make yards after catch.

Comparing Wentz’s 2017 campaign to Foles in 2018, here’s how they look next to each other:

  • AGG%: Carson Wentz = 25.7% (1st), Nick Foles = 14.6% (18th)
  • AYTS: Carson Wentz = +.80 (4th), Nick Foles = -2.1 (24th)

If you’re concerned that the roster’s current make-up looks more like the 2016 season than 2018 in terms of pass catching depth, don’t be. Wentz still smokes Foles in aggression and downfield throwing in both areas despite being more conservative in his rookie year.

Wentz is going to fit some fastballs into some tight windows, which will be a welcome change. The question is, will his receivers make the plays they need to make for him? Either way, it will be a breath of fresh air seeing a quarterback more willing to challenge defenses.