Pre-season is just around the corner for the Philadelphia Eagles and with it comes plenty of excitement. This will be the first time that rookie quarterback Carson Wentz in an NFL live-game scenario..but beneath the surface, we could be getting an even deeper look into Pederson’s Offense.
Doug Pederson told reporters today that the second overall pick would see a lot of playing time in the second half when the Eagles play the Buccanneers on Thursday.
“I’m going to try and get them all in the game,” Pederson said. “Obviously, Sam [Bradford] will start with the ones. I got Chase [Daniel] going in there. Carson will take the bulk of the second half. And then when I get an opportunity I want to see McLeod [Bethel-Thompson] get some time late in the game.”
The news itself doesn’t really come as a surprise, the development of Wentz has been a priority for the Eagles since day one..and rightly so. They traded a lot of assets in order to draft the NDSU product and Doug Pederson stated his intentions of grooming a project QB very early on in his tenure.
What will be interesting to watch though, is how the Offense evolves under each quarterback. Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz are all vastly different in terms of strengths, weaknesses and overall playing style.
Pederson is coming off of a year as the Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator in which Alex Smith had a career season. 20 TD’s, 7 picks and 3,486 yards helped send the Chiefs to the playoffs despite the absence of Jamaal Charles and an Offensive Line as equally inconsistent as Philadelphia’s.
Pederson knows what kind of quarterback will succeed in his system. When you look at Smith, you can see shades of all three current Eagles quarterbacks. The pocket presence and accuracy possessed by Sam Bradford, the mobility of Carson Wentz and the reliability and system knowledge of Chase Daniel. But as noted above, the three Eagles signal callers all play very different styles of Football.
This is important. Throughout camp, one of Wentz’s strong points has been his ability to make plays with his feet. Whether that’s throwing on the run, rolling out in Play-action or making a run for himself, the mobility Wentz brings to the table combined with the cannon showcased during his NDSU days open up more avenues for Pederson to explore.
Wentz isn’t however as strong in the pocket. He has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long before making a decision and when under pressure, often underthrows/overthrows his receivers. Something Bradford has much less of an issue with.
One thing that really stood out last season in Bradford’s game was his confidence to stand tall in the pocket and sling a pass out regardless of the oncoming pressure. He was able to move around instinctively, run outside of the pocket to extend a play when needed but most importantly, Bradford’s quick footwork meant that the short, snappy passes that are so crucial to Pederson’s Offense had a very high success rate.
So the question is, will the Offense change depending on who the quarterback is. Will Doug Pederson show the more “jab-jab-knockout” style Offense that allowed Smith to drain valuable minutes off of the clock, and run his unit down the field to get them in scoring range (shown in our analysis of Pederson’s play-calling in 2015) when Bradford’s at the helm in order to play to his strengths?
If he does and that works..what’s going to happen when Wentz enters the fray? The Eagles could well decide to place an emphasis on running the ball due to the inconsistencies of Wentz but at the same time, appear to be more adventurous in their play-calling, using more play-action looks, more rollouts and read options.
Would the Eagles be more inclined to let Wentz roll out to his stronger side to sling a pass down the seam than they would with Bradford or Daniel, or will they instead decide to run the same gameplan regardless of who’s at quarterback?
It will be one of the more overlooked aspects of pre-season, but perhaps one of the more indicative. Wentz is one day going to put the franchise on his shoulders and be the long-term starter for the Eagles if all goes to plan..so the question becomes, are the Eagles building an Offense for Wentz to inherit..or building a quarterback to inherit the Offense?
It’s a question that will naturally answer itself as pre-season progresses and eventually as Pederson’s first season as Eagles Head Coach unfolds..but one that’s worth keeping an eye on to see how the answer develops.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports