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Carson Wentz’s pocket management is key for the Eagles’ offense

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The Kist & Solak Show #111!

Philadelphia Eagles v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

We’ve all heard that Carson Wentz should be better off with no knee brace and another year removed from tearing up his knee. It’s an obvious talking point and it’s probably true, but what does it really mean? How does that manifest itself on the field and produce results?

As Benjamin Solak originally pointed out in his article detailing the Eagles’ offense, two areas where it shows up is average depth of target and sacks. For instance, Wentz’s sacks taken in under 2.5 seconds quadrupled from the previous year (2 > 8) in 2018 despite taking less snaps. When we look at how Wentz has evolved throughout his career, it’s expected that he has a return to form.

We went beyond the surface level analysis and dove into that topic on The Kist & Solak Show #111, and the following is a brief transcript from that portion of the show.

[start transcript]

MICHAEL: Having that mobility inside of the pocket to escape pressure was something that he wasn’t as sharp at in 2018 as he was in 2017 and it limited the offense some and he took some more shots than maybe he would’ve taken if he didn’t have the brace on or if he wasn’t just coming back from an ACL…

Because a lot of times sacks are a QB stat, it’s not always the case, but we’ve talked about guys like Dak Prescott where their movements in the pocket when they perceive pressure invites more pressure and invites sacks. Wentz on the other hand moves pretty well in the pocket but didn’t have that dynamic movement ability to escape pressure in certain situations where maybe a year before he would have…

BENJAMIN: There’s pocket escapability and then there’s pocket management and they’re not the exact same thing. [In college] Wentz had pocket escapability and he struggled with pocket management. 2016, mechanical issues are still there, pocket issues are still there… Wentz looks promising but not there yet.

Year two comes, 2017. Wentz improves significantly from a mechanical perspective. Wentz is able to throw downfield with more consistency. Wentz is able to throw from the different release points, the different launch angles on the move. All of that seems to improve and become a bigger part of his game. He’s fantastic creating big plays outside of the pocket with his legs and then the short game with RPOs, incredibly effective in 2017.

2018, if you’re looking purely at Wentz’s play, this is something we talked about on a podcast before the 2018 season: what are you looking for from improvement for Carson Wentz? My number one thing was pocket management versus pocket escapability…

He wants to extend plays, right, this is how he is. This is all fine, there’s nothing bad about this, it’s just more pocket management makes it easier to buy that extra half second to make the throw in rhythm and on time.

In 2018 we see a significant increase in sacks inside the pocket. We also see an increase in time-to-sack inside the pocket. We see an increase in time spent inside the pocket. We see an increase in time-to-throw inside the pocket. Carson is spending longer in the pocket in 2018… Why? Because pocket escapability, predicated on Carson’s athletic ability, predicated on his strength and his explosiveness has decreased…

Pocket management became a more valuable trait and it wasn’t necessarily there. Pocket management is not the result of athletic ability… the small, slight adjustments is a result of anticipation, experience, and a vestibular sense of what’s going on around you…

Now in 2019, Carson has the athletic ability 100% returned. We should expect to see a return to 2017 production in terms of very few sacks inside of the pocket, much quicker time-to-throw… and we should subsequently see an increase in throws outside of the pocket as opposed to 2018 and a greater depth of target because the more outside of the pocket you are the more likely it is you’re throwing down the field.

So we should see a return to 2017 form. It’s what we should expect.

[end transcript]

We dug more into the offense for the rest of the show including discussions about dictating coverage with condensed and heavy formations, setting up RPOs, DeSean Jackson’s ripple effect on the underneath game, and much more. You can listen to The Kist & Solak Show #111 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!