It’s enticing, isn’t it? You watch Lamar Jackson run for 108 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles two weeks ago. Then you watch Daniel Jones break loose for an 80-yard run Thursday night. Then you spend Sunday night watching Kyler Murray (67 yards) and Russell Wilson (84) push the Cardinals and Seahawks to overtime in a Battle of Projected MVPs.
You see all that in Philadelphia, and you think, “Hey, we’ve got one, too.”
No, you don’t. You have Carson Wentz. And you have Jalen Hurts as his backup. So, you need to have Doug Pederson stop calling running plays for his franchise quarterback.
Remember Dak Prescott? The Cowboys got 9 yards out of a designed run for him three weeks ago. Prescott got a compound ankle fracture and dislocation, which likely cost the Cowboys a playoff spot. Brilliant.
If Wentz needs to scramble, fine. If you need a yard or 2, use the ol’ QB sneak. Otherwise, figure something else out. Wentz is too important to risk; too fragile to gamble; and too slow to be a real threat, anyway. He’s no Lamar, or Kyler, or @DangeRussWilson, or even Daniel Jones. They’re sports cars, except for Jones, whose poor handling makes him a muscle car.
At best, Wentz is a souped-up pickup truck.
A pickup truck with a banged-up frame. And no turbo.
In total, counting sneaks and scrambles, Wentz has run 35 times for 185 yards and five touchdowns, and that has aided in the modest success of the 2-4-1 Eagles, who sit alone in first place in the NFC East (mainly because Prescott is hurt). However, while those numbers do reflect Wentz’s renewed vigor and his improved judgment as a scrambler, they do not reflect his ability as a ground-gaining weapon, per se.
On the 11 designed runs that were not quarterback sneaks, Wentz has gained just 50 yards. He has scored two touchdowns, but he also lost a fumble. He’s not Donovan McNabb, who was faster, and he’s not Ben Roethlisberger, who is bigger. He’s the WentzWagon, and that’s nothing special.
The Myth of Carson Wentz always has been sexier than the reality. He ran a 4.77-second 40-yard dash at the combine in 2016 (slightly faster than Dak, who has been a far more effective runner), a pedestrian number compared with his peers. And that was before knee surgery, a back fracture, 157 regular-season sacks, and a cheap shot from Jadeveon Clowney in the playoffs.
Kyler Murray ran 4.31-second 40. Lamar, 4.34. Wilson was 4.55. Jones hit 4.67 at his pro day at Duke in 2019, which was just slightly slower than McNabb’s 4.64 in 1999, and McNabb was fast for 21 years ago. Unlike McNabb, and Wentz, Jones got faster after his pro day; he hit 21.23 mph on his 80-yard run, the fastest QB speed since 2018. Donovan never ran 21 mph, and Wentz couldn’t hit 21.23 mph on Rollerblades.
That’s why Wentz doesn’t run away from anyone. He never has, really. He’s willing to run, and he’s faster than your typical Manning brother, but that doesn’t make Wentz a threat. It makes him a target. Just ask Clowney. He runs a 4.53, so it was child’s play when he clipped Wentz from behind in January.
For context, right tackle Lane Johnson ran a 4.72, slightly faster than Wentz ... but then, Johnson weighed about 70 pounds more. Now, if you want to discuss some designed runs for Lane Johnson, that’s a conversation we can have. And don’t get me started on Jordan Mailata.
Calling running plays for Wentz just doesn’t make sense. He’s fearless and he’s tough, but he’s also a $128 million investment with a rookie backup. Wentz missed time in each of the past five years (including college) with wrist, rib, knee, back, and concussion issues. You want to expose him to more contact?
So, why have the Eagles made Wentz their third running back? Desperation.
The Eagles started 0-2-1, and did so with Wentz mostly anchored in the pocket. Then, as underdogs at San Francisco, the Eagles called two running plays in Game 4. Wentz scored from 11 yards out, untouched, and later gained another 8 yards, again untouched (he fell down), and the Eagles won the game. They were hooked.
But Wentz has since gained just 25 yards on seven designed runs. More significantly, he has been clobbered four times on those seven runs; most memorably, a dangerous, five-defender pileup near the goal line at the start of the fourth quarter against the Giants on a shotgun quarterback draw up the middle on third-and-goal from the 7.
It was a dumb, reckless play call. Calls like that must stop — unless somebody in the organization wants to see Jalen Hurts get a lot more playing time.