There will only be so many balls to go around for the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense. The consensus opinion is that they’re loaded with weapons, which begs the question.. who gets the bigger pieces of the metaphorical pie?
On The Kist & Solak Show #104, that’s exactly what we try to figure out. Using the projections of Mike Clay of ESPN, we predicted some key over/unders for the Eagles roster. You can examine his box score predictions for both offense and defense in the tweet below.
The Eagles are one of the league's most complete teams, but will a fully-healthy Carson Wentz get them back to the top of the division? Here are their latest 2019 #ClayProjections pic.twitter.com/0Mxzt5qD7o— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) May 22, 2019
Starting with Carson Wentz’s outlook, Clay has him down for throwing 31 touchdowns. Here’s what I had to say on the matter in a loose transcript of the show:
I was thinking about this one, and there’s some different layers to it. His big time throw percentage in the red zone dropped from 10.2% to 3.4% which was closer to his rookie season, on 3rd down it went from 12.1% to 5.4%, so over cut in half there…
… PFF defines a big time throw that’s on the highest end of both difficulty and value, they say it’s best described as a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window.
What I find interesting is the part about more plays not happening because he wasn’t as mobile, and yeah, it’s great that Carson has the brace off. He looks more comfortable, he’s going to be more dynamic in his movements. When you look at that same metric, big time throw percentage, it didn’t really change from season to season under pressure or even when holding the ball for more than 2.6 seconds, it changed on under throws of 2.6 seconds, from 5% to 2.2%.
I think that changes with DeSean Jackson in this offense and if we can see strides from Mike Groh, and yes Doug Pederson, in coming into games with better scripting, healthier weapons, the cupboard is full, better reactive playcalling and not in the Bill Walsh sense but in the sense of taking advantage of trends and match-ups throughout the game as they develop which is something I feel the Eagles were better at in 2017.
So I don’t think it’s all about the legs for Carson because I don’t think people realize, and everybody I’ve talked to in the analytical world with player tracking data have backed this up, guys like Carson Wentz and I’ll even throw in Cam Newton because he’s seen as a scrambler when most of his rush yards come on designed runs, those two aren’t typically throw on the run guys, they’re very stationary quarterbacks.
You chart out their launch points and they’re between the hashes and right around the top of the drop for a vast majority of their throws. So yes, while I myself had written about a possible touchdown rate regression before the 2018 season while invoking the mobility argument, I don’t think it’s the only thing, and I think Carson wins more from the pocket this year on downfield shots. I think he again ranks in the top 10 for NextGen Stats aggressiveness metric, and if I’m betting on it, I’m betting on the over on 31 touchdowns.
Will Carson Wentz throw over 31 touchdowns?
This poll is closed
Moving on to the running back position, it’s all about the snaps. Whoever can out-snap the other between Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard will likely meet or exceed their projection. Clay projects Sanders to see the bulk of the carries and catches, but is that realistic? Considering Sanders’ documented issues pass protection, iffy hamstring, and Howard’s overall reliability, it might not be so clear cut. That said, Sanders could prove to be the more dynamic back, but it’s a matter of when that reveals itself to be too much for the coaching staff to ignore.
Who plays more snaps in 2019?
This poll is closed
From the wide receiver and tight end group we were more interested in a possible logjam among three different options. Dallas Goedert, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Nelson Agholor received similar projections from Clay, and there will be a fight for snaps and red zone opportunities throughout the season. Goedert’s increased and stabilized usage towards the end of 2018 plus the possibility of an Agholor trade before the deadline had me leaning Goedert. 12 personnel is good (#analysis); they should continue to utilize it and let Goedert shine.
Who has more receiving yards?
This poll is closed
You can hear our in-depth analysis on these topics and more by listening to The Kist & Solak Show #104! Hear it 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 to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!