It’s safe to assume no coach spends more time talking with Carson Wentz than Press Taylor.
After being promoted to Eagles passing game coordinator to go along with his role as the quarterbacks coach last offseason, Taylor is consistently in Wentz’s ear. He spent last season in the coaches' booth on game days, but this year he’s on the sideline, often dissecting pictures of the opposing defensive formations with the Eagles' starting quarterback on the bench between series.
With Wentz in the midst of the worst stretch in his career, Taylor said the conversations between the two sometimes focus on the expectations the team has for its franchise quarterback.
“We continue to talk about the standard we have for our offense, for the quarterback play within our offense," Taylor said. "Making sure he understands that at all times and making sure that he is practicing that. Living that in and out of the building. Everything that comes with that, and we’ve continued to talk about that.”
Wentz has been one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season, a stark descent from his previously consistent track record. He leads the league in turnovers, with 12 interceptions and four lost fumbles.
He’s completing 58.4% of his passes, which is on track to be the lowest rate of his career and he has struggled with accuracy. Last year, Wentz was a bright spot in an offense ravaged by injuries, finishing with 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, and completing63.9% of his passes. This season, he’s on pace to throw 24 touchdowns and 24 picks.
Taylor has been a part of the Eagles' coaching staff for eight years, and is in his third season as the quarterbacks coach. When asked about what’s gone so wrong for Wentz, Taylor said there are more than one or two culprits.
“I don’t know that there’s necessarily one certain thing that I put my finger on and say this is our No. 1 issue,” Taylor said. “If that were the case, we would certainly get that corrected right away. ... The biggest issue has been our turnovers. The turnovers lead to less plays, lead to less opportunities, lead to less points, and so that’s really our No. 1 focus is cleaning up the turnover ratio that we’ve had.”
Wentz often has talked about walking the line of limiting turnovers without sacrificing the aggressive approach that made him the MVP frontrunner in 2017 before tearing an ACL. He’s been sacked 32 times this season, which leads the league. Part of his sack total has been due to the makeshift offensive line, but part has been because of Wentz’s tendency to hold onto the ball too long. He’s third in the league in passing attempts that took longer than 2.5 seconds, and seventh in longest average time to throw.
Taylor said the coaching staff will continue to script plays that encourage Wentz to toe the line of risk and reward, but emphasized ball security is another main subject when the two talk.
“That’s the way he’s played and honestly that’s the way we call games,” Taylor said. “We are going to be aggressive; we’re going to be bold in our approach. We’re going to take our shots when we feel like the situation calls for that. But as a quarterback, nothing will ever trump ball security, and that’s something we will always talk about, whether it is we are directing him to push the ball down the field, it’s an out-of-pocket decision that happens later in a down, whatever it is, ball security will always be a premium.”