Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles have surprised many people with their 3-0 start this season. After trading away Sam Bradford, the conventional wisdom was that by starting a rookie quarterback, the Eagles would endure the normal rookie quarterback mistakes such as holding on to the ball too long, missing reads, and throwing interceptions. However, Carson Wentz has played more like a seasoned veteran, completing a fraction under 65 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions. What a great start for the Eagles and their fans, but will their winning ways continue?
Sure, the 3-0 start “bottom line’s” any talking point, but there is more to dissect from Carson Wentz’s play. Beneath the 65 percentage completion rate, no turnovers, etc., lies the fact that the Eagles offensive game plan for the first three games made sure to provide Carson with a ton of short passes, relying on the play making ability of the people catching the ball. A five yard pass to a player like Darren Sproles, who is an absolute nightmare to tackle out in space, can result in a large gain with minimal risk. Out of the 102 passes Carson threw over the first three games, more than 60 percent were the type of throws that any average NFL quarterback could complete. (Think of Alex Smith’s forte – ya know, the quick outs, slants, screens, etc.) Not that there is anything wrong with comprising a game plan that gives a young quarterback the best chance to succeed. Isn’t that what coaches are paid to do? Sure, and this is all well and good, but the decision to invest in Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ future shouldn’t rest on the above statistics or how well he can complete a five yard slant. Oh no, quarterbacks need to do more, and Carson Wentz does more – here are the five throws that make the Carson Wentz investment worthwhile.
1. The corner end zone throw against man-to-man coverage is one that all great NFL quarterbacks make. Wentz throws this one perfectly against the Browns.
The small speck surrounded by the yellow circle is the football in flight as the receiver works to get open.
Perfect over the shoulder throw and catch. Touchdown Eagles!
2. The deep middle route between the corner and safety, a staple of the NFL passing game, requires a strong arm and pinpoint accuracy. Here is an example of this throw against the Browns. Wentz stands in the pocket as the receiver just starts his cut to the middle of the field.
Wentz, standing tall in the pocket, gets rid of the ball just before the rusher hits him.
Talk about threading the needle – incredible throw and catch.
3. Pocket presence – the ability to “feel” the pass rush, slide out of harm’s way, and deliver the ball is another skill great quarterbacks possess. The Bears overload Wentz’s right side, which is problematic for the pass protection since the Eagles are in an “empty” formation.
Wentz moves to his left to avoid the rush.
He finds an open receiver and then has the arm strength to throw back across the middle.
4. Wentz has a cannon for an arm. Check out this throw against Pittsburgh.
Ball is launched!
Another view of the throw and catch to show how far the ball traveled.
5. Carson Wentz can make plays by scrambling away from the pocket and throwing on the run.
Here comes the rush.
He casually flicks the ball out to the unseen Darren Sproles.
Right on target.
Sproles does the rest.
Of course, no one should jump to conclusions and declare Wentz a top five quarterback in the NFL. There are still aspects of his game that need further scrutiny. For one thing, his NFL career hasn’t provided the opportunity to come from behind in the fourth quarter as the Eagles have led comfortably in all the games he’s started at quarterback. Can he make those throws under intense pressure from a good NFL defense during the waning moments of a game? We’ll see. The great thing for Eagles fans, though, is that he’s got the tools that make the investment worth the risk.