The most important relationship
The bond between a quarterback and his offensive coordinator is arguably one of the most important on an NFL team. For Carson Wentz, that link was weakened in 2018. Frank Reich departed for Indianapolis and Mike Groh was promoted to take over. This would be fine, if the offense was still built around Wentz, but it wasn’t.
From week 15 of 2017 through to week 3 of 2018, the offense was reshaped around Nick Foles. Carson Wentz was unable to practice with the team due to rehabbing his torn ACL, meaning that receivers got used to the timing, placement, and rhythm of the offense with Foles at the helm.
This may explain some of the stutters along the way last season, stutters that somehow didn’t stop Wentz putting up exceptional numbers despite still clearly not being 100%.
But now, Nick Foles is in Jacksonville, Wentz is fully healthy and will have a full offseason to re-mold the offense to his strengths, add new levels of complexion and ensure that he and Groh are on the same page going into 2019. It’s subtle, but the impact that a lost offseason had on this team last year cannot be overstated.
A balanced run game
The Eagles offense has seemingly followed the same patterns since Pederson’s arrival. To begin with, the run-game is virtually nonexistent before one blistering breakout balances the offense. Just as things begin to really pick up, injuries destroy any hopes of sustenance and depth is sorely tested. Whether it’s Ryan Mathews or Jay Ajayi, it’s not as if the Eagles have lacked productive backs, it’s been keeping them on the field that’s the problem.
Now, enter Jordan Howard. I could sit here all day and talk about the former Chicago running back’s 74% conversion rate last year in short-yardage situations or the fact that despite a career-low in yards per carry, he actually averaged 4.3 when rushing out of the shotgun. We could discuss Howard’s physical style of play, his home-run potential and his success in pass-protection…or we could simply state that the insertion of a bowling-ball back who has 250+ carries in all three of his NFL seasons and one that has missed just one game in that time, should bring a sense of reliability to the backfield.
Then we factor in the drafting of Miles Sanders. Selected with the 53rd overall pick, the Eagles haven’t selected a back that high since LeSean McCoy was drafted with the exact same pick. It’s a substantial investment and one that should ultimately see a renewed focus on finding creative ways to run the ball.
Regardless of how the backfield battles shake out, the focus given to the position this offseason, combined with the accomplishment of retaining all of the offensive linemen who were on the team during that iconic 2017 season, should take the weight off the shoulders of Carson Wentz.
Wentz shouldn’t be put in a situation where he’s expected to throw 40+ times per game all that often, which
A) Reduces the injury risk
B) Keeps defense honest since they have to respect the running game.
C) As a result, opens up the offense for Wentz to really thrive as opposed to being forced into giving what the defense wants.
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