Eagles passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Press Taylor spoke with reporters on Tuesday following the team’s bye week, and talked about Carson Wentz’s turnover problems, why they don’t want to reign in the QB’s aggressiveness, and a little about Jalen Hurts’ development and involvement in the offense.
Here’s what the coach had to say:
On Carson Wentz’s turnover rate
Taylor said that it’s obviously disappointing that the quarterback has turned the ball over 16 times so far this season, and noted that it’s not acceptable and Wentz is well aware of that.
“It’s something we’re very confident that he’ll be able to clean up as we go into these next eight games, the second half of the season. He is very aware of it; that that’s not what we expect around here.”
He went on to explain that it’s a fine line between being aggressive and being smart, something Wentz talked about after the Dallas game. Taylor said that they’re aggressive in their play calling, as well, and are always going to be bold in their approach and take shots when the situation calls for it.
“But as a quarterback, nothing will ever trump ball security, and so that’s something we will always talk about, whether it is we are directing him to push the ball down the field, it’s an out-of-pocket decision that happens later in a down, whatever it is, ball security will always be a premium and that’s something we continue to talk about.”
Still, Taylor acknowledged that they’re never going to try and reign Wentz in, so he just has to understand that the ball is the priority.
On Wentz’s deep pass attempts
It was pointed out that the average length of Wentz’s passes are the highest they’ve been since 2017, but that a good portion of his turnovers have happened on deep pass attempts, as well. Taylor said it comes down to play call and play design, in terms of aggressiveness to push the ball down the field.
“That’s been a concerted effort at times, but there are also times, as a quarterback, and we call it for an ideal look, it’s not the ideal look, we expect you to make the play call right and maybe that’s check the ball down to the flat. Then everybody is accountable for being where you need to be when you need to be there. That’s what really makes the passing game go and that relies on protection, every single aspect of it. There are times where we are trying to throw the ball down the field and maybe we have the ideal look and get a chance to push it, which I think we have done a little bit more of this year. Then there’s times where it’s not there and by down and distance, it calls to push the ball in the flat right now. That’s something that we are continuing to harp on with him and again, like all I can emphasize is we are excited to see where that goes in the second half of the season.”
On Wentz’s low completion percentage
“There’s certainly a number of issues. I wouldn’t say it’s one certain thing, whether it’s him, somebody else, play call, whatever it is. It’s hard to say there’s one blanket statement of what’s going on with it.”
Taylor went on to say that they expect a high completion percentage, but the expected completion percentage is going to drop a little bit as they throw the ball further down the field. He explained that’s just something they expect to see improvement through the second half of the season from the offense as a whole.
On Jalen Hurts
“Jalen has done a really good job in learning our system, learning kind of the rhythm, the ins-and-outs of each week within a season, seeing how game plans evolve, how the offense evolves, how you mix in personnel as it goes and he’s doing a really good job with his process right there. We are really excited about him and the development and continues to show.”
Taylor talked a bit about why Hurts and the Eagles have had success with a two quarterback offense, and he pointed to some un-scouted looks — unique formations, not knowing until they break the huddle where Hurts will line up.
“I know if you go back to the Baltimore game, he kind of got a spark there in the second quarter playing quarterback and being able to run the ball and we had a gadget play that had potential for a big play. Then he comes in in the second half and the second he enters the field, they go to a zero blitz look. Then he lines up at receiver, he’s more of an eye candy on a ghost motion type thing and we are able to spit out a split zone for a huge play there, and I think that’s kind of the cat-and-mouse game a little bit of you’re not sure where he’s going to align, what role he’s going to have so you’re kind of just aware and you’re on edge a little bit. There are times where that is good. There’s also times where we are not sure how they are going to align, so you kind of want to be cautious, you want to be aggressive, you’re trying to walk that line again of are we doing too much, are we putting ourselves in a bad situation, our offensive line in a bad situation because there are some unknowns obviously.”
The coach also acknowledged that Hurts is accountable for the entire playbook — just like everybody in the offense — but if he were to come in as the quarterback, they would adjust the game plan to what he does well and his strengths. But, Taylor said that Hurts has done a great job learning the playbook and the reason behind why they do things.