We’ve all been beating around the bush, but it’s time to flat out say it... Carson Wentz has been the worst quarterback of the 2020 season so far. Now, you may be thinking one of the following:
He’s been playing behind a practice-squad-level offensive line.
Now, this is just false. Regardless of who has been dressing for the team, Wentz has had plenty of time. In fact, according to our friends at Pro Football Focus, Wentz actually has the 5th most clean dropbacks this year, with 126 clean pockets out of 184 dropbacks. While the great QBs can make a play with or without pressure, all QBs at the NFL level should be able to make plays from a clean pocket. How has Wentz fared this year from a clean pocket? Well, out of those 126 dropbacks, Wentz has completed just 84 passes (67.2%), which ranks 27th of 34 qualified quarterbacks. He has only 772 yards (18th), 4 touchdowns (T-18th), and a passer rating of 77.8 (32nd). At best, Wentz has been mediocre from the clean pocket. Wentz has averaged 2.81 seconds in the pocket, which is tied for the 11th longest amount of time to make a decision. Now one might think that when you have more time, your performance will increase. However, in Carson’s case, it’s quite the opposite. On plays where Wentz has 2.5 seconds or more to throw the ball, Wentz has a passer rating of just 42.8 (34th), throwing for a completion percentage of only 48.2 (32nd) with five interceptions (34th). To put it simply, the offensive line has not been the issue.
He’s had different targets every week.
With Alshon Jeffery still out with injury and Jalen Reagor, DeSean Jackson, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, and even Deontay Burnett all bouncing in and out of the lineup, Wentz has certainly not had the most straightforward go of things. Also, none of the above players have helped much when on the field. Now, do we blame these players for failing to make big plays themselves, or do we look at the quarterback who has overthrown 10 of 16 deep balls? Do we blame Zach Ertz for catching 19 of 20 catchable balls, or do we blame Carson for throwing only 20 catchable balls out of 27 targets? Do we blame Jackson for only catching 10 of 12 balls, or do we blame Carson for only getting 12 of 19 balls to his hands? While the receiver group definitely isn’t world-beating, I find it hard to fault them when drive after drive, the team is going four and out.
He’s had a lot of drops.
Wentz has had nine balls dropped already this year, which is tied for seventh-most. Now, as really needs to be drilled into our heads... Dropped balls are part of the game and are not that big of a deal. Even if all of those balls were taken yard for touchdowns, Wentz would still have fewer touchdowns and yards than Russell Wilson. The same Russell Wilson, might I add, who has had ten balls dropped this season. Mahomes has had six drops. Brees has had six drops. Roethlisberger has had nine drops. Brady has had thirteen drops. Drops are not the reason Carson has been bad this season.
The running back group has been inconsistent.
With 236 yards on the ground through just three games, Sanders has actually been among one of the more productive backs in the league. With only Derrick Henry putting up more yards through his first three games. Sanders has had a few touchdowns vultured by Carson himself, but with 4.6 yards per attempt, Sanders has been more help than he has harmed. Boston Scott and Corey Clement may not be enough should Sanders go down with an injury but in the meantime, it’s hard to blame Sanders on the offensive struggles.
The defense hasn’t looked right and isn’t helping the offense.
While the defense hasn’t been great, they have undoubtedly been the second-best of the three units, with special teams taking the crown. For what it’s worth, PFF ranks the defense in the upper half of the league with an overall grade of 61.0. The offense, conversely, has been the second-worst in the NFL with an overall grade of 59.3. Looking at the raw stats, you’ll find a similar trend. The team is top 10 in the least overall yards surrendered this year and has actually been tremendous on a per attempt basis, allowing the 7th and 8th least yards per rushing and passing attempt, respectively. All things considered, I think the defense has looked noticeably improved over last season.
The offensive coordinator is bad / The QB coach is inexperienced / The head coach is overwhelmed / Howie needs to go.
I grouped these together and listed this excuse last because I genuinely find it lazy to blame the coaches or management for what has happened. Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman won a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback running a similarly battered offense just a few years ago. Doug has proven to be in the upper echelon of offensive play-calling, and Howie has proven time and time again that he is smarter than we are. While there’s an argument to be made that drafting Jalen Hurts was a poor choice, I think at this point, there’s a more significant argument that Howie was somewhat prophetic drafting a reliable backup to Wentz, who has been struggling mightily.
While I must admit, with Carson being such an easy guy to cheer for, it sometimes makes it hard to blame him directly, but that’s what must be done. Now in his fifth season, it’s becoming increasingly evident that 2017 was, in fact, the outlier for Wentz. I will continue to root for him on the field should he continue to get snaps; however, I think it is legitimately fair to expect Jalen Hurts to get some more playing time should Wentz keep up this streak of bad performances. It really can’t get any worse than it’s been, so I think it could soon be time to give Carson a couple weeks off and see what Hurts can do.