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Carson Wentz continues to struggle with accuracy issues

Missing the mark.

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Football Team Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Carson Wentz is rightfully taking a lot of heat after the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 1 loss to the Washington Football Team. The fifth-year quarterback devolved to being downright dreadful after starting out red hot.

The following stat really puts Wentz’s struggles into context:

Yikes.

One of the most frustrating aspects from Sunday’s game was watching his inability to put the ball in the right place. We all know that Wentz has never been the most accurate quarterback. But things were especially bad on Sunday.

The two interceptions obviously stuck out. In addition to those, Wentz simply left a number of plays on the field.

He throws behind Zach Ertz on this play:

He throws wide of DeSean Jackson and almost gets picked off here:

He overthrows Jalen Reagor deep on this play, though it does look like the rookie wide receiver slowed down a little (0:02 mark) for some reason.

He completes this quick throw to Dallas Goedert but the tight end has to pick it up off the ground instead of being led in stride to more easily get yards after the catch. (Wentz threw too high earlier on another quick throw to John Hightower, who had to leave his feet to make a catch for a negative two-yard reception.)

He throws way over Ertz’s head on this one:

He throws short/wide of Reagor despite having a clean pocket off play action here:

On the very next play, he sails this throw to Greg Ward, who runs a nice route to get open over the middle. For game context, this incompletion comes right before Wentz is sacked on third down and Jake Elliott misses a 53-yard field goal. Costly.

He misses Jackson for a chunk gain on the play before Ertz drops the 4th-and-3 pass over the middle:

Look, it’s not like a quarterback should be expected to never throw a bad pass. But it’s also not like we’re misrepresenting a relatively accurate quarterback by showing some selective clips.

Accuracy was a big issue for Wentz in 2019 as well. Pro Football Focus identified it as the number one area where the Eagles’ starting quarterback needed to improve heading into 2020.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: ACCURACY. Carson Wentz is coming off quite a streaky year. He started the year well — significantly better than the box score suggested — earning the highest PFF grade in the NFL through the first six weeks of the season. After that, though, his grade rank fell to 25th. The story of Wentz’s career is that he thrives in the unstable areas and is relatively average in the stable ones, but an improvement in accuracy will serve him well in the long run — and the good news is that he’s still young enough to develop in this critical area. He has been well subpar when it has come to hitting open receivers with an accurate ball. Over the last two years, Wentz ranks 29th in the NFL in the percentage of accurate-plus passes thrown to a receiver with a step or more of separation.

The Ringer’s Danny Kelly also wrote about the topic while previewing Wentz’s 2020 outlook.

Of course, the lack of speed and talent at receiver isn’t the only reason Wentz’s numbers dipped in 2019. There were a few too many times when he simply made poor throws, either delivering the ball late or inaccurately. He needs to clean up these types of inexplicable misses. Wentz finished in the top 10 in the NFL’s completion percentage above expectation metric (which measures a quarterback’s performance relative to the difficulty of their throws on an aggregate level) in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, he dropped all the way down to 23rd in that statistic, just behind Mitchell Trubisky.

BGN readers who followed along with my Eagles training camp notes will know that I often wrote about Wentz having accuracy issues in practice sessions. It wasn’t just a bad day or two as much as it was a consistent problem over the course of a couple weeks.

It’s concerning.

And, no, it’s not just about a poor offensive line in front of him.

OTHER ISSUES

Inaccuracy wasn’t only issue on Sunday.

Wentz needs to play smarter. Even former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who regularly defends Wentz, is now really getting on him about this:

Wentz is capable of doing some special things when he refuses to go down; the Eagles shouldn’t want to neuter that part of his game entirely. A better balance needs to be struck, though. He can’t just always be playing hero ball out there. This has been said for some time now and it’s still an issue.

And it’s at this moment where I wonder if Wentz truly has the most effective coaching staff around him. I’m not just talking about scheme stuff like getting on the move more often, which the Eagles failed to do in Week 1.

I’m talking about actually coaching Wentz how to properly play the quarterback position. It just doesn’t feel like we’ve seen him really improve under quarterback coach Press Taylor’s tutelage. Based on things I’ve heard about that player-coach relationship, they’re more like peers than a teacher and a pupil. It’s certainly not like the setup the Eagles had in 2017, which happened to be Wentz’s best season, when John DeFilippo really challenged Wentz.

Then again, coaching points might only goes so far. At some point, Wentz might just be what he is.

To be clear, it’s hardly time for the Eagles to bench Wentz. He’s probably not going to continue to play as poorly as he did in Week 1. It’s beyond fair to be frustrated with him, though. And it’s only natural to wonder what this team’s ceiling is if the same issues happen to linger.