"It takes all of us" might be on his helmet but the media and fan mob coming after him has zeroed in and is unrelenting. Is it justified?
From legitimate MVP candidate to the bench in under 3 seasons? Wentz's "Derulo stair fall" this season has mystified fans and analysts alike.
"It takes all of us" might be on his helmet but the media and fan mob coming after him has zeroed in and is unrelenting. Is it justified? What exactly is going on?
Offensive Line decline
It's not an excuse it's an elephant. The Eagles have had one of the best position groups here in the league since 2016. This year it's one of the league's worst and it's impacted pass pro and the run game severely. Wentz doesn't have as much time or space in the pocket as he's had throughout his career. And this Andy Reid derived scheme relies heavily on good OL play.
Skill Player decline
Eagles went into the season equipped with DeSean Jackson, rookie Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward Jr, Arcega-Whiteside, with Alshon Jeffery (and his 13 million per year) on pup at WR and Miles Sanders & Boston Scott at RB. Along with their TE duo, Ertz & Goedert.
It's been a massive mis-evaluation. They've been a soft, unreliable group as a whole. The team underestimated the importance of a physical chain moving type at WR and in particular at RB.
Nagging injuries and ineffectiveness has plagued the speed shrimp duo of DJack & Reagor. A downfield passing offense without a downfield passing threat.... is basically kaput. JJAW is proving to be a practice star only guy and an awful replacement for the washed Jeffrey. Practice call up Fulgham looked like a star for a few games precisely for his ability to win at the catch point....a liability in this group as a whole this season.
RB Miles Sanders is an ultra athletic tough guy that produces chunk plays but is just not reliable enough to be a high volume #1 RB. The crippling drops, fumbles and plays for loss or no gain have been game deciding for the offense.
Sanders easily has the worst catch % in the league among RBs, albeit clearly indicative of the entire offense. Roseman created a void here when he chose not to acquire a thumping tone setter that can help control the los. They sorely miss the days of the LaGarrette Blount & Sproles caliber talent out of the backfield.
Ertz and Goedert are solid TE's but have suffered through nagging injuries this season, limiting their availability and playmaking impact on games.
The traits that make a playmaking QB; incredible arm talent throws, hanging in the pocket to the last possible second, tackle breaking scrambles, tight window, high risk passes.... look an awful lot like "Hero ball" tendencies when they don't work out. Wentz has always been more gunslinger than game manager and he's going through a crisis of character as he's been blamed for the team's failings.
His reluctance to play more check down than deep shot is a fair criticism given the mistakes adding up. For a big athletic QB, the courage to stand in and the confidence to play through contact will always be double edged.
Situational awareness just hasn't kicked in for Wentz often enough and it leads to ball security issues and back breakers like this...
Wentz appears to be heading to an irrevocable difference of opinion with his HC. 50 sacks taken through 12 weeks easily leads the league and is the already the most sacks Wentz has taken in an entire season by +13.
Initially defensive, the coach is now claiming the QB is predominantly to blame, while it's clear through body language that Wentz feels he has no other options but to eat it on most plays.
As always the truth lies somewhere in between. A majority of the sacks are of the coverage variety accompanied by OL failures... but Wentz could've cut that total down by at least a quarter if his situational awareness were better and he looked to his check downs quicker.
What's it look like?
The 2005 Packers sputtered to a 4-12 record while football pundits and fans declared Brett Farve washed. He posted a 70.9 rating and threw 29 ints to 20 TDs. The Packers skill position group that year collapsed with injuries.
They lost WRs Javon Walker & Robert Ferguson, and RBs Ahman Green & Najeh Davenport. On the OL they changed over pro bowl caliber OGs Marco Rivera & Mike Wahle for journeymen Grey Reugamer and Adrian Klemm.
The HC was fired and an hourglass was put on Farve's time as a Packer. epilogue: Farve went to the championship game in two of his next 4 seasons and essentially cemented his HOF status.
With that said, there is one crucial difference between Farve 2005 and Wentz 2020. Farve attempted the 2nd most passes of his career that year (607) and was still only sacked 24 times. Wentz not looking to get the ball out of his hand this season, after generally doing so most of his career, is inexplicable and doesn't exactly have a precedent.
Still, in context, DeShaun Watson took 62 sacks just 2 seasons ago behind a similar terrible offensive line but with arguably better skill talent around him. The narrative that Wentz was approaching David Carr levels of sack futility was hyperbole.
How do you fix it?
There are some pro QBs that just simply fall of a cliff. They're good until they're not. Daunte Culpepper, Colin Kaepernick, Trent Green, Matt Bulger, Marcus Mariota, Robert Griffin...etc. So it's entirely possible that Wentz might just be done as a solid starting QB.
Past that worst case scenario, a vital area of improvement for him has to be ball security. Wentz has the 2nd highest fumble rate among active NFL players. An old vice grip, as his idol would say, would go a ways to making him a better QB and it's obviously a much more controllable variable then limiting interceptions.
If Wentz remains an Eagle as the possible starter the team needs key skill sets to sustain the offense beyond just inserting a rookie run first QB because you can't pass protect. They need a consistent deep threat that has better size than Reagor and isn't as soft as Hightower.
If he declares, Nevada junior WR Romeo Doubs is an ideal fit out of the draft. Practice squad find WR Fulgham has flashed as a physical guy that can win at the catch point. Another later round draft target with good physical traits and ball skills is 6'2 220 N.C. State senior Emeka Emezie.
A RB that can share carries with Sanders and step up in clutch situations with power and versatility as a receiver is critical. UNC JR Javonte Williams, Purdue JR RB/HB Zander Horvath, or Oregon St JR RB Jermar Jefferson have ideal skill sets for the offense and would be available later in the draft if they declare.
An OL fix requires premium draft picks and free agency. High round draft targets like OTs Jackson Carman, Sam Cosmi, Liam Eichenburg, Christian Darrisaw, Dan Faalele or OGs Alijah Vera Tucker, Tevin Jenkins are likely upgrades. FA targets like Ty Sambrailo, James Hurst, Chaz Green, Sam Tevi are possible veteran upgrades.
With all that said, there's a possible fracturing of trust between Wentz and Peterson that might not ever get mended. Wentz's contract might dictate they maintain a business relationship but this season might have broken something between them. I think Wentz would be willing to rework his contract to aid the team but I also think he'd be open to playing elsewhere with a fresh start.