The Eagles were 17-10 up on a Monday Night showdown with the Washington Redskins when arguably the most iconic play of the game took place. It was 3rd & 9. After some magic throughout the game, Wentz stepped up into the pocket and as all of his options closed up, he was able to seek out a wide open Corey Clement. In what may be the hardest throw of his career, Wentz had his vision clouded but sought out Clement and hit the running back right on the money, who came down with an emphatic touchdown reception to give the Eagles a convincing lead.
What made this play even more impressive, was the fact that Wentz actually pushed this play into the offense himself. The offense isn’t just being built around the MVP candidate, but the second year QB is actually helping construct it himself. John Gruden first shed light in this during the broadcast, but Frank Reich would later open up on the topic in a press conference.
“Sometimes just plays have a good mojo for you, you’ve had a lot of success, you’ve got a lot of confidence in them.” Reich explained. “And then you’ve repped it enough and you know — I think what happens when you run a play over and over again, you see it against all kinds of different coverages, you see it against different coverage techniques and leverage that defenders play, and really good quarterbacks learn how to beat any coverage when they have one play that they really like, and you feel like you can’t stop the play. And even as we’ve repped that play, and we have different variations of that play so teams can’t zero in on it and ways to disguise it and ways to counter off of that play, but even in practice when we run the versions of that play, you can just see Carson just work the progressions and get to every receiver in the progression. I mean, literally all five receivers have caught that ball in practice and have caught that on that particular route.”
A popular play in the arsenal of Carson Wentz it would seem. Below is the incredible touchdown itself. With two receivers out wide, Ertz motions across the line of scrimmage to draw attention his way against a stacked box. With two tight ends bunched together, the Eagles burst toward the end zone. Clement slides past an oncoming blitzes and into the open field. Brent Celek drew away the attention of a zone defender keeping a watchful eye over Clement, opening up the corner of the end zone for a breaking route. It’s a beautiful play-design that can hurt Defenses on so many levels…and something that as Gruden mentioned, has roots in North Dakota State.
Wentz ran a very similar play in the redzone against Jacksonville State a few years ago. Two receivers out wide and a running back lining up behind two bunched tight ends helped spread the field enough for the quarterback to find a streaking option over the middle.
In the FCS championship game, NDSU ran a very similar play once again, this time with a clean cut inside on the vertical route into the endzone. The second tight end helped draw attention from two defenders over the middle to open up the gates.
The beauty of these plays (or formations) is the run-pass option. Something that’s becoming a staple of the Eagles Offense. A designed quarterback run saw Wentz follow his running back through the hole and into the endzone to seal another championship for the Bison. The tight ends and receivers were all on blocking assignments here. A different variation of the play we saw on Monday Night.
So what is it about this play that keeps Wentz coming back for more?
“That’s what happens when you — that’s why sometimes as coaches you don’t want to outsmart yourself.” Reich said. “You just want to keep running the same plays over and over again, make them look a little different, have enough in your inventory that defense can’t get too narrowed in on it, but certainly just keep running your same stuff and let your players play and make the plays that they should make.”
The sense of familiarity is certainly a huge positive for Wentz and the Eagles Offense and in clutch situation, the simplest plays are often the most lethal with everyone on the same page.
“But what’s also impressive about it, and here’s what happens when you’re not only athletically really good, but you’re mentally really good, is you have to be able to make that decision and know that that guy is going to be where he’s going to be at.” Reich explained. “And so it was that combination of physical ability to make the play, but also the mental ability to understand the dynamics of what was happening in that moment.”
The Eagles Offense has taken many shapes and forms throughout the season so far, but perhaps the most dangerous of all may be the ones crafted by the man running the show on the field.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports