After three weeks of NFL football, many media members and talking heads have lined up to give their opinions on Eagles (0-3) QB Carson Wentz and his so-called, demise. I’ve heard it all, from “he should be benched, “he’s not healthy,” to it’s time to play Jalen Hurts, their 2nd round pick, more. I decided to head to the film room and take a deeper dive and see what was causing all the conjecture.
I was very bull-ish on Carson coming out of North Dakota State and sat along with nearly 20 other scouts for the first game of his senior year, in a smoke-filled University of Montana stadium in late August, 2015. There were so many scouts there that day, they put us on the roof of the press box because the tiny I-AA facility press box was bursting at the seams. I left after seeing his team narrowly lose, in a crazy loud, road environment, where he sprained his ankle but finished the game in a “John Wayne” fashion. He showed toughness, grit, solid decision making and an arm to make all the throws an NFL QB would be asked to make. He was accurate, confident and athletic to go with being 6045 and 235 lbs. I remember telling a couple buddies while driving home, I may not see another QB this talented all year long. I was the National Scout for the Chargers and would visit 52 schools that fall seeing all the best players in the country. When I circled back to see the film from his (injury filled) season it backed up what I had seen in the season opener. He was a really good player.
Let’s fast forward 5 years, to now when I dove back into the film to see what all the new-found commotion was about. I’ll try to unpack in 500 words or less, what I found.
The Eagles have not won a game and there is no sugar-coating that, but what I found on tape was- the fact that this is not a good team. I saw in Wentz, the same things I saw five years ago. He made two wow throws vs the Bengals, where he drove the ball to receivers on a line, so the arm strength is still there. He had 2 QB runs where he bullied and ran over defenders, one for a first down, like he did in college. He still can stand tall in the pocket, he still is not bothered by the rush (and there has been plenty of that) and he still can get the ball out, on time. He’s tough, he’s courageous and he still has a feel for where to go with the ball. Sure, he missed a couple throws that he usually makes but overall, but there were other factors as well. He threw an interception but the ball was tipped because of pressure. He even showed patience at times, and I was questioning that before looking at the tape. He was willing to drop the ball off to check-downs, when available. It wasn’t perfect, but it was far from the biggest problem for Eagles fans.
What I didn’t see was, anyone separating from coverage nor stretching the field vertically. I saw receivers that can’t make plays and were blanketed by a Bengal secondary last week. This is a slow, plodding offense on the perimeter, with the exception of their smaller but explosive RB, Miles Sanders when he is in space. An example of this is- the Eagles used Sanders as their best downfield option in the pass game on 2 wheel routes that were not connected on. I saw plenty of 2-TE offense, too much throwing to people who are limited after the catch so defenses are not worried about defending the big plays. The offensive line is sub-par. Persistent pressures take Carson off his mark, and disrupt timing in the run and pass game. Jason Peters at LT is out of necessity, I get it, but he was beaten 4 times in the first half alone in the Cincy game and each time it was the main reason Wentz was off balance and had to adjust either his feet or his delivery. The interior O’line was consistently giving ground and the pocket collapsed into the quarterback’s lap way too often. I know they have had injuries here but the group as a whole is not up to NFL standards compared to even being “average”.
Overall, I think the offense looks out of sync and lacking in originality or any concepts that stretch or stress defenses. They have also been unlucky a fair amount as well. Just the wrong call, at the wrong times happens, even in the NFL. But it’s happened with regularity to the Eagles offense.
Overall, I think there is plenty of blame to go around. The roster lacks talent, the execution and play calling is nowhere near where it should be and I think they have overvalued their own players. I liked the addition of QB Jalen Hurts at the time but after further review this team needs talent at other positions way worse than they needed him. The decision makers have let Carson down and I think down deep, they know it.
I am here to report the demise of Carson Wentz has been greatly exaggerated, but his current plight will probably not change until the Eagles roster does. That’s going to take some time because this is not a playoff team in talent or in execution. It might be masked some because of the lack of top level competition in the NFC East this year but this fix- is not going to be a quick one.
Week 4 Picks- Last week 1-2, season 8-2
I really only see two games I would consider as a handicapper this week. The best way to be consistent is to “pick your spots” and this is one of those weeks.
You might think I’m crazy, but I like the Jets, in the Thursday night game. Both teams are 0-3. This game started out with Denver being the favorite but was bet down to where the line now has the Jets a 1.5 favorite. The Jets are not a good team, I understand, but Denver starts a rookie quarterback, on a short week and travel cross country to do so. I think Jets defensive coordinator, Greg Williams, and his blitz happy defense will throw everything and the kitchen sink at a Bronco’s offense with a first-time starter at QB. I don’t think Denver is good enough to overcome the travel, their injuries and their inexperience at the most important position. I’m taking the Jets and giving the point.
The other game I see as an opportunity is Minnesota traveling to Houston to play the Texans. Again, both teams are 0-3. I don’t like what I see from a Vikings defense. They have been very vanilla and have seldom blitzed or created any issues for offenses to adjust to, not the mention they have been pour-us against the run. I know the Texans don’t want to run the ball but I think their offense will come alive if Deshawn Watson does not have to run for his life. I think he will find open receivers and for the first time this season will stay in the pocket. I would give the 3.5 points. So, I like the home team.
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