Carson Wentz has built a reputation for making bonkers plays out of structure. He’s also got the arm to fit bullets through keyholes. What if you could quantify those throws with tracking data and, jeez I don’t know, compile them in a tidy top 10 list?
“Using Next Gen Stats tracking data, we built a machine learning model that determines the probability of a pass being completed, and we named that stat Completion Probability. The machine learning model takes into account Next Gen Stats such as Air Distance, Air Yards, Receiver Separation.
It also leverages other previously unrecorded metrics such as receiver distance from sideline, and more. Improbable Completions looks at passes with the lowest Completion Probability each week with a minimum of 10+ air yards, and all scoring plays.”
Due to some of those factors you won’t see “the Seattle throw” or “the torn ACL touchdown”, but it’s a solid list. They didn’t start tracking this data until 2017, so you won’t see any throws from Wentz’s rookie campaign.
Enough qualifiers, here are Carson Wentz’s top 10 most improbable completions from the 2017 and 2018 seasons!
1. 2017, Week 2: Nelson Agholor 9-Yard Touchdown
Completion Probability: 11.1%
This spot concept variant is one the Philadelphia Eagles’ often utilize in the red zone. Instead of the corner route, Agholor runs a “copper”, which fakes the corner before breaking off. Given the space constraints, Agholor is forced to bring it flat, which creates a stricter window than usual. Regardless, Wentz fits in a strike after a shoulder fake to his left.
2. 2017, Week 7: Corey Clement 9-Yard TD
Completion Probability: 15%
This play has all the trappings of the Eagles’ signature mesh-sit wheel, with some slight modifications throughout. Wentz escapes pressure from the blitz, understanding that Clement will convert his flat route to a wheel if the ball doesn’t come right away. Ultimately Wentz puts one just out of the reach of the recovering linebacker while under extreme duress.
3. 2017, Week 14: Trey Burton 20-Yard TD
Completion Probability: 17.9%
Former Eagles’ tight end Burton gets a clean inside release with the defender knowing he has help inside. That help comes from linebacker Alec Ogletree, who turns to carry the vertical route of Burton. Sometimes covered isn’t covered, as Wentz puts this one nearly on the back of Ogletree’s helmet, giving him no shot to break up the pass in the air.
4. 2018, Week 4: Alshon Jeffery 13-Yard TD
Completion Probability: 18.2%
Delivering in a prime time setting, this throw garnered national attention. The Giants’ cover 2 zone has this play locked up on the initial look. Wentz looks to buy time by stepping up in the pocket, but with no options revealing themselves, he darts to his right. On the move, away across his body, Wentz makes throws that coaches will almost never endorse; unless they work of course.
5. 2018, Week 5: Zach Ertz 7-Yard TD
Completion Probability: 18.8%
The Eagles’ spot concept variations work for all the usual reasons but also because they’ll run it traditionally from time-to-time. Zach Ertz working against the undersized Vikings’ cornerback Mike Hughes is the matchup you want in the red zone. The horizontal stretch from Wendell Smallwood’s flat route holds the underneath defender just long enough to create a window for Ertz to go get it.
6. 2017, Week 2: Alshon Jeffery 18-Yard Completion
Completion Probability: 21.5%
This is a fairly innocuous throw considering the others making the list, but still highlights Wentz’s ability to make full field reads and find targets late in drops. It’s also another example of Alshon Jeffery’s box out skills at the catchpoint.
7. 2018, Week 14: Nelson Agholor 42-Yard Completion
Completion Probability: 22%
Wentz never looked off this deep shot, showing trust in Nelson Agholor to eat up ground and blow by Byron Jones. When tasked with dropping shots deep and to the sideline, Wentz has the touch and accuracy required.
8. 2018, Week 4: Alshon Jeffery 16-Yard TD
Completion Probability: 22.8%
Jeffery’s excellent “blaze out” (threaten post before converting to a deep out) makes this work. Helping matters was Wentz stepping up in the pocket to buy time as he identified the favorable matchup.
9. 2018, Week 7: Zach Ertz 11-Yard Completion
Completion Probability: 24%
Wentz didn’t show the dynamic movement skills that littered his 2017 tape, which caused his play-making out of structure to become underrated. On the move, Wentz was accurate in 2018, finding Ertz on this scramble drill here.
10. 2017, Week 6: Alshon Jeffery 37-Yard Completion
Completion Probability: 24.4%
The pre-snap leverage identifies Jeffery as the target, so why did Wentz look to the other side at first? To hold the safety, of course. Eye manipulation, touch, and accuracy on display as Wentz drops another in the bucket.