Carson Wentz improvements biggest reason for Eagles success

Nov 5, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) reacts to a touchdown pass against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

For whatever reason, some talking heads in the football world still hesitate to give Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz his due. Even after shredding one of the top three defenses in the league, it still wasn’t enough. Wentz put up 51 points and threw for four touchdowns… and that still doesn’t do his performance justice. He was tremendous Sunday.

Alshon Jeffrey had a couple drops that took away chunk plays in the first half that would’ve made the stat line look even better. Beyond the stat line, you could see the impact Wentz had on the game. When the Eagles put the ball in his hands, he moved the chains and scored. When Philadelphia tried to rely on the run game early in the contest, the Eagles’ offense sputtered.

This guy can play.

MVP Pace

Some have mentioned that the offense is tailor-made for Wentz and that it’s more of a dink-and-dunk offense. Well, that’s not true. Wentz is slinging it down the field. He’s averaging 9.3 yards per attempt on third down. That’s ridiculous. The Eagles are the best team in the league at converting third-down passes to first downs, at 48.9 percent. After Sunday Wentz has the best passer rating in the league and is on pace to throw for over 4,000 yards.

So no, he’s not just checking it down. He’s ahead of Matt Ryan’s blistering pace last year in touchdowns. Wentz is at 23 where at this time last year Ryan was at 19. What makes that number so impressive is that the Eagles are blowing the doors off their opponents, so he’s not having to contribute late in games. Against the Broncos he didn’t even step on the field in the fourth quarter.

Where he has improved the most

Perhaps Wentz’s best trait is his pocket presence. He is one of the best in the league at keeping his eyes downfield while avoiding rushers. The play is never dead with Wentz. Knowing the type of athlete he is, the Eagles have used Wentz more on the move this year and it has paid huge dividends. His accuracy has greatly improved, but where you really see a difference from a year ago is in his timing. He had a couple throws to Jeffrey in the Bronco game toward the end of the first half when many others might not even attempt to squeeze the ball into the throwing windows. When QBs build confidence and learn to trust their receivers, these throws come a lot easier.

This takes timing, touch and trajectory, just over the linebacker’s head so he can’t get a hand on it but in front of the the corner. The Eagles liked what they saw so much they came back to that same concept the very next play.

The results were different, but the throw was just as good.

These are the throws Wentz is executing week in and week out. Last year he was keeping plays alive but would either make a poor decision or hold the ball and take a sack. The Eagles still aren’t protecting their quarterback like they would prefer, but they are converting more explosive plays so it’s easy to look past that.

Last year, Wentz had a lot of glaring deficiencies. Pointing out his flaws and how he performed was fair. He has taken a quantum leap in Year 2. His accuracy is getting better by the week. His mobility in the pocket is hard to top. His arm is fine. Now, he’s learning how to throw with touch and look off receivers and manipulate defenses. He’s evolving into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

The Eagles put him in a position to succeed with some of their route concepts. Only two teams in the NFL use more play action than the Eagles, per footballoutsiders, but those aren’t the plays where they are doing their damage. They average 1.6 yards more per play on non-play-action plays. Frank Reich and Doug Pederson have taken the training wheels off and Wentz has responded. The Eagles are the favorite to win the NFC and Wentz is the reason why.

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