Carson Wentz has been the same quarterback since he entered the NFL. On Sunday, we realized just how much of a blessing and a curse that is and the weight of responsibility that now falls on the shoulders of the coaching staff.
When Wentz is hot, he’s undoubtedly one of the top quarterbacks in the league – it’s why he was paid like one. But for every daredevil move, Houdini escape trick, and ridiculous throw that very few quarterbacks could complete if given 100 tries, there’s a dark side. It’s one that the coaching staff are absolutely responsible for helping with, something that they may not be doing enough of.
Any fans of Gruden’s QB Camp will have watched the Carson Wentz episode countless times. Arguably the biggest takeaway from that was seeing Gruden tell the future second overall pick to ‘be a two-handed monster’. Gruden noticed that Wentz struggled to protect the ball, leaving himself vulnerable to swipes, swats, and anything that would easily jar a ball that isn’t high and tight to his body, loose.
Nothing has changed.
Carson Wentz now has 50 fumbles through 57 games. This in itself is terrifying. It’s not like the fumbles are Mark Sanchez level, or clumsy. Instead, most of them come from a lack of ball-security, or a willingness to try and do too much.
Even in yesterday’s loss, Wentz was taking hit after hit but was trying to force the ball out as he was going to the ground. The face of the franchise still refuses to accept a play is dead, which is what makes him so special, but also what’s holding him back.
Wentz has this distinct aggressive trait deep inside that’s fueling every attempt. But how many more passes thrown into the ground are going to land there instead of into a defenders hand? Taking the incompletion like Aaron Rodgers so often does just doesn’t appear to be an option for Wentz. It’s either hero or villain…and it’s beginning to turn sour.
It’s fair to say that Wentz was hardly the most accurate quarterback in the world yesterday. His touch on the deep ball was non-existent. He missed left, right, short, far. Balls were dropped at targets feet or went sailing over their head. This isn’t new. Wentz is a gunslinger, but the gun is like that one on Zombies where you just camp in a corner, spray, and hope for the best.
According to Pro Football Focus, Wentz ranked 29th in the NFL over the last two years for the percentage of accurate passes thrown to a receiver with a step or more of separation. Not great. This was on show against Washington where Wentz missed a wide open Jalen Reagor before missing DeSean Jackson just one play later.
His delivery was often late on Sunday and Wentz showcased a trait he’s had since day one. When the cards are stacked against him (CC: Saints 2018, Patriots 2019), his head wobbles and desperation sets in. That aggression works against him and he ends up just launching into double coverage to try and find a chunk play that isn’t there, or flailing the ball out as he’s being sacked in a crucial moment, coughing it up and causing a much more damning scenario.
There is one area where Carson Wentz has improved drastically since his rookie year – footwork. It was clumsy in 2016 but after an offseason of private tutelage, he was bouncing in the pocket with even strides and a firm base. In fact, that 2017 season was almost perfect until the ACL tear.
Since then, things have been rocky. 2018 was marked as a ‘rehab’ year where he hurried back and ultimately overworked his torso to compensate for a weaker knee, resulting in another injury. But slowly but surely, like a golf swing, every flaw in his game has crept out of the woodwork.
The Eagles crucially lost John DeFilippo, a renowned ‘quarterback whisperer’ after their Super Bowl run. He’s now working with Mitch Trubisky in Chicago after a few stops that held higher posts. But instead of hiring someone new, they promoted Press Taylor.
This isn’t a knock on Taylor, but his entire job as a QB coach is to…coach the quarterback. It’s not like Wentz has flawed throwing mechanics or is struggling to read defenses, all of these flaws are beyond coachable. The problem is, they’re not being coached and instead allowed to manifest to a point of no return.
If Doug Pederson or Press Taylor don’t come down hard on Wentz when he’s making these kind of errors, instead accepting them as part of his game, then that incredibly high ceiling is only going to fall as time goes on.
The good news is that it’s beyond correctable. The bad news is it’s been years and nothing has changed. That fact simply has to.
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