What effect is DeSean Jackson’s absence having on Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ passing game? How bad has the Eagles’ pass defense been? Those numbers and more in today’s mind-blowing pre-game stats package:
Life without DeSean
--Carson Wentz is second in the league in third-down passing with a 125.5 rating, behind only the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson (147.8). Twenty-three of Wentz’s 42 third-down pass attempts, or 54.8 percent of them, have resulted in first downs. That’s the highest percentage in the league, ahead of the Raiders’ Derek Carr and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson (both 50.0) and Jackson (48.1).
--DeSean Jackson’s absence clearly has impacted the Eagles’ vertical passing game. Wentz has completed just 3 of 13 deep balls (throws of 20 yards or longer from the line of scrimmage) in the three games since Jackson got hurt. He was 2-for-5 with two touchdowns on 20-plus-yard throws in the Eagles’ Week 1 victory over Washington with Jackson. Through four games, Wentz is 5-for-18 (27.8 completion percentage) for 220 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs on deep balls. Last year, in 11 games, Wentz was 17-for-46 (37.0) for 608 yards, 3 TDs and 4 INTs on throws of 20 yards or more.
--Jackson’s absence also has impacted Wentz’s intermediate accuracy. Wentz completed 4 of 6 passes in Week 1 on throws of 11 to 19 yards. In the three games since, he’s 10-for-23 on throws from that distance.
--Seven of Wentz’s nine touchdowns have come on throws of 0 to 10 yards. He doesn’t have any on 11-to-19-yard throws or on throws behind the line of scrimmage.
--Wentz is 30th in the league in completion percentage (60.7) through four games and 26th in yards per attempt (6.6). His yards per attempt average is the lowest of his career through four starts.
--Wentz has completed 12 of 21 passes in the red zone. He’s thrown five TD passes in the red zone and no interceptions. He’s been sacked once inside the 20.
--In 44 career starts, Wentz has thrown just two interceptions in 219 pass attempts in the red zone. Both have been against Washington – one in his rookie year and one last season. A look at how Wentz’s red-zone interception ratio compares to some other NFL quarterbacks over the last four years, compliments of Pro Football Reference: Tom Brady (3 in 255 attempts), Aaron Rodgers (2/225), Drew Brees (5/275), Philip Rivers (6/246), Dak Prescott (6/187), Jared Goff (3/205), Russell Wilson (3/222), Ben Roethlisberger (7/227) and Matt Ryan (6/251).
--Wentz has eight rushing first downs in the first four games. That’s the second most among quarterbacks. Only the Ravens’ Jackson, with 14, has more. But Jackson has 36 rushing attempts. Wentz has just 17.
--Wentz is 7-for-7 on quarterback sneaks this season. The Eagles have converted 8 of 9 third-and-one situations as well as their one and only fourth-and-1. Last year, with Wentz coming off a major knee injury and then breaking a bone in his back, the Eagles were reluctant to use him on QB sneaks. As a result, the Eagles converted just 13 of 21 third-and-ones (61.9%) and 9 of 13 fourth-and-ones (69.2). Just seven teams had a lower third-and-one success percentage than the Eagles last season.
--More DeSean Effect stuff: The Eagles have had just 11 pass completions of 20 yards or more in the first four games. Twenty-one teams have more. Last year, the Eagles, even without a legit deep threat, they had 52 pass plays of 20-plus yards.
--As mentioned earlier, Wentz has completed just 5 of 18 passes that have traveled 20 or more yards. A breakdown by receiver of those 18 passes: DeSean Jackson 2-2, Miles Sanders 2-2, Nelson Agholor 1-5, Mack Hollins 0-3, Dallas Goedert 0-2, J.J Arcega-Whiteside 0-2, Alshon Jeffery 0-1, Zach Ertz 0-1.
--Zach Ertz has a team-high 24 receptions. Seventeen of those 24 passes have been caught 0 to 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Thirteen of Nelson Agholor’s 18 catches also have been in the 0-to-10 yard range. Seven of Wentz’s nine touchdown passes have come on 0-to-10-yard throws.
--Ertz and Agholor are tied for the team lead in third-down receptions. Both have six. Jackson and Mack Hollins each have five.
Shotgun vs. under center
--Two hundred twenty-one of the Eagles’ 272 offensive plays in their first four games, or 81.2 percent, have been run out of shotgun. That’s slightly higher than last season when 77.8 percent of their plays were out of shotgun. The year before (2017), it was just 69.7 percent. And the year before that (2016), it was 65.9 percent.
--Seventy-eight of the Eagles’ 115 rushing attempts (67.8 percent) have been out of shotgun. They’re averaging 4.3 yards per carry from shotgun and 3.8 from under center. The Eagles have run just 14 pass plays from under center in the first four games. Wentz is 9-for-13 for 92 yards with one sack from under center.
--Jordan Howard, who is averaging 4.7 yards per carry overall, is averaging 4.4 from shotgun (26-114) and 5.1 from under center (14-72). Miles Sanders, who is averaging 4.0 yards per carry overall, is averaging 3.5 from shotgun (35-124) and 5.4 from under center (10-54).
--The Eagles are averaging 3.6 yards per carry in 11 personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR) in the first four games, and 5.2 in 12/13. Howard is averaging 4.4 yards per carry in 11 and 5.3 in 12/13. Sanders is averaging 2.5 yards per carry in 11 and 6.7 in 12/13.
--The Eagles have 11 runs of 10 yards or more, which is tied for the 15th most in the league. Jordan Howard has a team-high six. The Jets have given up just six 10-plus-yard runs this season. That’s the fourth fewest in the league.
--The Eagles are 19th in first-down rush average (4.0). The Jets are allowing just 2.9 yards per carry on first down. That’s tied for the best mark in the league with the Eagles defense.
--The Eagles are giving up a league-worst 323.8 passing yards per game through four games. Only two other teams are giving up more than 300 a game – the Bucs (318.3) and the Ravens (302.0). The Eagles are on pace to give up 5,292-passing yards, which would shatter the current league record for most passing yards allowed in a season (4,796 by the 2011 Packers).
--The Eagles have a league-low three sacks and 16 quarterback hits through four games. They have just three players with 10 or more quarterback pressures – Brandon Graham (0 sacks, 3 hits, 23 hurries), Fletcher Cox (0 sacks, 3 hits, 17 hurries) and Derek Barnett (1 sack, 5 hits, 8 hurries). Through four games last season, Cox only had one more total pressure than he has now, but it included three sacks and five hits.
--The Eagles defense is tied for 20th in yards allowed per pass attempt (7.7). That’s the highest in Jim Schwartz’s four seasons as defensive coordinator.
--Opponents have scored on their first possession against the Eagles in every game (3 TDs, 1FG). They’ve scored on their second possession in three of the four games (1 TD, 2 FGs). Opponents are averaging 9.2 yards per play on their first possession and 5.0 on their second. Thirty-seven of the 105 points the Eagles have given up, and 26 of the 81 first downs they’ve allowed, have come on their opponents’ first two possessions.
--The Eagles are 25th in points allowed through four games, giving up 105. They’re 29th in first-quarter points allowed (27), 29th in second-quarter points allowed (43), 8th in third-quarter points allowed (14) and 13th in fourth-quarter points allowed (21).
--The Packers had seven red-zone opportunities against the Eagles last week. That’s most against the Eagles in 11 years. The Packers only scored three touchdowns on those seven trips inside the 20 as the Eagles held Aaron Rodgers to five completions in 16 red-zone pass attempts (he was 29-for-37 outside the red zone). But that’s a dangerous way to live as a defense. The Eagles finished first in red-zone defense last season, but also gave up the ninth most red-zone challenges (56). Just one of the eight teams with more RZ challenges won more than seven games. The Eagles currently are on pace to face 60 red-zone challenges this season. That’s the bad news. The good news is they’re going up against a Jets offense Sunday that has had just two red-zone opportunities this season.