For the second straight year, the Philadelphia Eagles have found themselves on the brink of elimination, only to pull themselves back from the edge of the abyss.
No player has played a bigger role in that resurgence than Carson Wentz. In the past three wins, Wentz has posted a stat line of 94-for-133 (70.7%), 910 yards, 6 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a solid 104.5 QB Rating.
Entering an all-important Week 16 showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, many feared another game where Wentz would struggle early and press late. It turned out to be the exact opposite. Wentz started the game on a tear, shrugging off his sometimes early jitters in push games and making it clear from the first throw that he was all out of bubble gum.
After the first drive stalled thanks in part to a terrific Byron Jones breakup and negative 5-yard run from Miles Sanders, Wentz would not be denied on the second drive. He found Dallas Goedert in the back of the inside among a sea of Cowboys’ defenders on another beautiful tight window throw.
Eagle’s stick nod concept with pump fake to now screen to hold safety away from Goedert running the stick nod.— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) December 27, 2019
Nifty footwork from Wentz to set hallway right after pump fake to the left. pic.twitter.com/vfugQ9lEGs
One of the improvements we’ve seen from Wentz during the three-game win streak has been a quicker mental process. There’s several reasons why this could be the case, but Wentz seems to have settled in more as he’s become acclimated with the new set of skill position players around him.
For instance, this early throw on 2nd & 14 that shortened the sticks and set up an eventual conversion will go forgotten, but these are the types of plays required to keep the offense churning down the field on longer drives.
With the first read being Miles Sanders on a slot fade, Wentz quickly reads the leverage of cornerback Byron Jones and gets to his next read for a completion. Small stuff, but the devil is so often in the details and Wentz has been particularly good at making the small plays lately.
It’s good news for an offense lacking a dynamic downfield threat and often has to put together double-digit play drives. The Eagles currently rank 3rd in the average plays their touchdown drives total (8.2). Remove Week 1, the only week where the Eagles had a healthy DeSean Jackson, and they become tied for 2nd in that same stat.
Wentz has also improved his accuracy over this recent stretch. In the last three weeks, PFF ranks Wentz 3rd in adjusted completion percentage (82%) among ingrained starters, bracketed by Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes. That’s a healthy 12% increase for Wentz, who ranked in the bottom third of the league for the rest of the season.
Part of that may be the Eagles’ willingness to get Wentz on the move more. Contrary to popular belief, the bulk of Wentz’s throws in the past have come with him as one of the most stationary quarterbacks in the league. Getting him on the move has been a plus for the offense, and whether designed to roll or not, Wentz has shown sterling accuracy when on the hoof.
Wentz’s rebound from two ugly and highly criticized games against the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, and he’s done it all while the players he once relied upon have one-by-one found themselves in the blue tent and on the injury report for extended periods of time. It’s interesting to think about what Wentz’s season would’ve been if the original group had either not been injured or played up to past performance.
But that’s all “what if” and in the past. Right now Wentz has an opportunity to slam the door shut on the NFC East with a win over the Giants. If he continues to play like he has, the Eagles have a shot against anybody.
We break down more of Carson Wentz’s performance against the Cowboys and preview the opposing quarterback, Daniel Jones, on The QB Scho Show #46! Listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load. New to podcasts? Check out our guide on how to listen and subscribe to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!