3 UP and 3 DOWN: The Good and Bad of Carson Wentz
22 September 2017 Eagles News
Week 2 was a mixed bag for the Eagles, as they lost on the road against a very formidable Kansas City Chiefs team. It was mostly a well played game, but key lapses at key moments in the game prevented the Eagles from securing a victory. This game was absolutely a winnable one, and it’s somewhat reassuring that as tough of a loss as it was, the Eagles were in it right up until the end.
Now let’s take a look at the individual players that played well (3 UP) and the players that struggled (3 DOWN):
Carson Wentz made plays all game long, using both his legs and arm to keep the Eagles in the game until the bitter end. The offense was placed squarely on the shoulders of Wentz, as the run:pass ratio was out of whack once again, heavily favoring the passing game.
Here Wentz places the ball well and hits WR Alshon Jeffrey with the back shoulder throw for a TD. This was a big play for the Eagles offense, and certainly an important play for the budding chemistry between Wentz and Jeffrey.
Here is another well placed ball by Wentz, and a nice catch by WR Torrey Smith along the sideline. Wentz took several shots in Smith’s direction, and here was one of their converted passes.
Wentz displays his athleticism by getting outside of the pocket, pump faking the defender into the air, and nearly connects with Smith for a deep gain. Unfortunately, Smith bobbles the pass and is unable to pull it in.
Wentz scrambles for a big first down on third and 11. Wentz quickly identifies that he doesn’t have any open receivers and uses his legs to make the play for his team…again.
It’ll be imperative that Wentz continue to use both his arm and his legs to keep defenses honest. The Giants will test Wentz often week 3, and how he responds will play a big role in the outcome of the game. Wentz has all of the physical tools to be elite, but has to show he can be consistent play to play, game to game.
Defensive Tackle Tim Jernigan was a beast on Sunday, and routinely made his way into the Kansas City backfield. He was disruptive against the run, and also produced as a pass rusher.
Jernigan stands up the pulling right guard and makes the assisted tackle on the ball carrier. Jernigan battled each and every snap he played, providing stability next to Fletcher Cox.
Jernigan drives KC center Mitch Morse into the backfield, and then disposes of him to get an assisted tackle on the play with DE Brandon Graham. Graham had a monster game as well, constantly in the KC backfield.
Here Jernigan capitalizes on the pressure caused by Graham on the outside, and collects a half sack along with Graham. Jernigan fights through a double team to record the half sack, making it all the more impressive.
On this last play Jernigan stands up the right guard, and tosses him aside to make the tackle. Jernigan has had a strong first two weeks for the Eagles, and is a player the Front Office needs to prioritize re-signing. The interior of the Giants offensive line is susceptible to internal penetration, so Cox and Jernigan should eat.
Mychal Kendricks gets the call here in what was a close competition with CB Rasul Douglas. Douglas played an incredible game, making tackles and pass breakups against the KC offense. However, Kendricks also had a great game, making big plays all over the field.
Kendricks blitzes off of the edge and records a sack on KC QB Alex Smith, putting together a really strong game against KC. Kendricks navigates the pocket well ensuring Smith has no escape alley.
Kendricks shows his pass defense chops, identifying the drag route in front of him and making a play on the ball to disrupt the pass for an incompletion.
Kendricks makes a potentially TD saving tackle on kick return, running down the returner to tackle him from behind. With his speed, athleticism, and experience, Kendricks is a player that has always seemed to be on the cusp of “greatness”. If Kendricks keeps up his solid play, he may be in line to start in place of LB Nigel Bradham in 2018 if the Eagles decide to not re-sign him.
1. QB Carson Wentz
This may seem odd, but just stick with me here. Yes, Wentz was a 3 UP player for his play during the KC game, but it’s also no secret that he made some questionable plays as well.
Guard Brandon Brooks is driven back into Wentz, causing him to fumble the ball. This is a situation where Wentz has to have better pocket awareness on this play. Even though Wentz recovers the fumble, it’s still a lost down and another example of Wentz mishandling the ball.
This play absolutely buried the Eagles, and led to the go ahead TD by KC. This is a tough throw, and the screen pass comes with inherent risk involved, but this is a play that can’t happen. A completed pass, or even an incompletion, are obviously FAR batter outcomes than an INT in your own territory.
Seumalo allows the quick pressure, and center Jason Kelce doesn’t react quickly enough to stop the interior rusher. Wentz doesn’t take care of the ball though, as it slips out of his grasp and needs to be recovered.
Wentz had several passes tipped into the air during the KC game, and hopefully it’s not the beginning of a trend. As tall as Wentz is, and with his over the head throwing motion, he shouldn’t have nearly as many passes tipped at the line of scrimmage (LOS).
Guard Isaac Seumalo has struggled mightily through the 1st two weeks of the season, and has apparently been benched in favor of guard Chance Warmack. Seumalo gave up consistent pressure against KC on Sunday, and was repeatedly beaten by KC DE Chris Jones.
Seumalo allows the pressure right up the middle of the pocket, and Wentz does his best job to elude it. It’s difficult to isolate exactly what the issue is with Seumalo this season, if it’s physical, mental, or both. He hasn’t been the only lineman to struggle, as almost the entire offensive line has had issues early in the season.
Again Seumalo gives up the pressure right up the middle of the pocket, as he struggles with the much quicker Dee Ford. Ford is an outside pass rusher however, and should not be able to dominate a guard inside the way he does here. Ford beats Seumalo with a speed rush, and quickly maneuvers past him for the sack.
This last example is the icing on the cake, as Seumalo draws the false start penalty at a key point during the game. His lack of technique, strength at the point of attack, and concentration, all directly led to him being benched. Seumalo still has a lot of football ahead of him, and he can certainly bounce back this season, but he must first regain the trust of the coaches and players.
Yes, I recognize the fact that Watkins stepped in to be a starter only because injuries have cause the Eagles to get creative at corner. This also may be a moot point considering Watkins has been out this week with a hamstring injury, and may not play Sunday versus the Giants. Still, Watkins had a rough week 2, albeit on limited snaps, and showed that he may not be someone the Eagles can rely on for starter reps at corner.
Here Watkins gets beat by KC WR Tyreek Hill on the hook route, and Hill easily breaks his tackle to extend the gain. Watkins is in perfect position to come up and limit the play to a short gain, but instead uses poor technique and falls off of the receiver.
On this play we get an “All-22” view of Tyreek Hill making Jaylen Watkins look foolish on what ends up being a go route. Hill puts multiple moves on Watkins, eventually eating up the cushion the CB had, and beating Watkins over the top. The defense was saved by an Alex Smith overthrow.
This last example isn’t as egregious as the first two, but still shows room for Watkins to grow as a defender. Watkins is in off coverage, and allows KC TE Travis Kelce to catch the quick out underneath. Watkins gets beat by the foots peed of Kelce, and has to make a tackle in space that Kelce almost breaks out of. When Watkins returns to the Eagles lineup, he’ll need to ensure that he’s making the plays that are asked of him, so that he isn’t hurting his defense and team.
This was a winnable game for the Eagles, that came to Special Teams, and the turnover differential. While KC was able to limit their overall mistakes, Philadelphia continued to shoot itself in the foot. Wentz’s interception, coupled with a missed field goal, and a fumble by Darren Sproles, were the eventual undoing of the Eagles.
You can’t lay the blame at the feet of any one player (or any three), but it’s clear to see that Philly is still a work in progress. RB Darren Sproles continues to be Philly’s most dynamic back, which is problematic considering he’s now 34 years old. Abandoning the running game, and asking Carson Wentz to throw 40+ times a game will wear the second year signal caller down, and ultimately make the Philadelphia Eagles offense extremely predictable.
Week 3 versus the New York Giants presents a very unique challenge for Philadelphia, as the Giants come into Lincoln Financial Field as a team desperate for a win. Defensively the Giants have the skill position players to capitalize on any mistakes the Eagles offense makes. Even though the Giants have been REALLY struggling on offense, I still wouldn’t count them out. They have enough on offense with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. to make any defense pay. It will be up to the front 7 of the defense to get pressure on Eli like they did with Alex Smith. If they do, and the offense limits the turnovers to 1 or less, the Eagles will be in a prime spot to leave Lincoln Financial 2-1.
Tune in next week, as I explore our 3 UP and 3 DOWN players from week 3!