Just before their preseason week three matchup, Carson Wentz and Lamar Jackson went head to head against starting defenses. This was Wentz’s first action against another team all preseason, while we all have seen Jackson flash some brilliance against the Green Bay Packers. Alike most people in attendance for these practices, my eyes were on Wentz and how he performs against a secondary featuring Earl Thomas and Brandon Carr. One thing that I was looking for out of Jackson was his ability to be accurate with his arm on offense. We all know he is athletic, but how well could the Philadelphia Eagles defense contain him?
These joint practices were more useful for the starters than any pre-season game. The Baltimore Ravens had the opportunity to measure their defense to a much-anticipated offense like the Philadelphia Eagles. On the first day of the two-day joint practices, Carson Wentz didn’t look as smooth. On the second day, Wentz looked a lot better. That is a big difference between last preseason and this preseason. The simple fact that Wentz has been able to take repetitions with his first-team offense against an opposing team’s first-team defense means a lot.
In the joint practices, I was anticipating a test run of the Carson Wentz to DeSean Jackson connection. However, there is one play in particular that stands out. Let me spin this into a positive for Wentz. While Mack Hollins did drop the pass, Wentz was able to hit him in the hands with the ball while he was covered by a corner. If Wentz is already in sync with players like Hollins, imagine how he is with Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor too. Hollins has to catch that ball, it would have been the completion of the day.
Speaking of completion of the day, the best for Carson Wentz in the two days of joint practices in training camp was a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery, beating Earl Thomas. Overall, the Baltimore Ravens defense didn’t intercept Wentz, but they did show range in being able to break up passes.
Head Coach Doug Pederson was more than impressed with what he saw.
“[QB Carson Wentz] is getting through his reads faster. It’s part of the progression of him and his growth as a young quarterback right now.” Pederson explained yesterday. “He’s getting to the line of scrimmage, he’s seeing things fast, and he’s redirecting protection. Again, going through his progressions, the ball is coming out of his hand quicker. All of that is part of what [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Mike] Groh is talking about and those are things we have seen through the spring and obviously through this part of camp.”
I described how day one was the toughest day for Wentz out of these joint practices. Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphery broke up their fair share of passes. The Ravens offense had the opportunity to improve against a tough Philadelphia Eagles defense too. Just how did it look through the lens of Lamar Jackson?
There were a couple of plays that gave me the impression that Lamar Jackson has improved on his throwing accuracy from last season. He was able to connect with Mark Andrews for a touchdown. If you are a Baltimore Ravens fan, you want to see this from Jackson, but in a game situation. There have been a lot of drives ending in field goals when Jackson has been on the field this preseason. On day one of the joint practices, Jackson was only able to convert one red zone opportunity for a touchdown out of the four. That was on the touchdown to Andrews.
On the first day, another thing that Lamar Jackson did a good job of was limiting turnovers. He wanted to work on ball security, which was going well. The second day, however, he threw a clean interception straight to Vinny Curry. He was blitzed on the play by Malcolm Jenkins who would have been in on the sack if Jackson didn’t get rid of the ball. It all wasn’t a mess for Jackson. He did connect beautifully with Michael Floyd on a contested pass for a touchdown. The Baltimore tight ends were getting more receptions it seemed throughout the joint practices.
Overall, I think the Philadelphia Eagles had the slight advantage between the two days of joint practices in training camp. Carson Wentz wasn’t intercepted and was able to throw more accurately than Lamar Jackson, which is what I look for in a quarterback. Jackson is a heck of an athlete, but I just need to see more plays made with his arm to convert into touchdowns in the red zone. The Baltimore Ravens defense is going to be a solid group this season, which is why I believe the Ravens will have a good season like the Eagles. After these two days, I firmly believe that fewer preseason games and more joint training camps should be the way of the future in the NFL.
The Philadelphia Eagles play the Baltimore Ravens at 7:30 on Thursday, August 22nd. Join us, the Philly Sports Network crew, on YouTube at our Philly Sports Network channel as we will be doing a live chat while the game is on. This will feature me, Christopher Infante, Bryan Cameron, a visit from Liam Jenkins.
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