Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Eagles vs. Cowboys: Charting Carson Wentz’s improvement heading into Week 8 battle with Cowboys

Carson Wentz has shown improvement the last 2 games. His numbers bear that out. Charting the Eagles quarterback and other numbers that matter heading into Sunday night's NFC East battle.

Carson Wentz, shown throwing a pass in last week's win over the Giants, has a 118.2 fourth-quarter passer rating in the Eagles' last 2 games.
Carson Wentz, shown throwing a pass in last week's win over the Giants, has a 118.2 fourth-quarter passer rating in the Eagles' last 2 games.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Eagles are starting to get people healthy and Carson Wentz is starting to play better, and while there’s no way to erase their 2-4-1 start, the fact of the matter is the NFC East title — and the playoff invitation that goes with it — is theirs to lose.

Some numbers that matter heading into tonight’s game against the Cowboys:

Carson’s improvement

— After throwing nine interceptions in the first five games, Wentz had just one in 83 attempts in the last two games, against the Ravens and Giants. His 10 interceptions are tied for the league lead with the Vikings' Kirk Cousins.

— For the third straight game, Wentz threw two touchdown passes in the win over the Giants, both coming in the game’s final five minutes. Wentz’s longest string of games with two or more TD passes is seven in 2017. He had a six-game streak of multiple TD passes in 2018.

— Wentz averaged 8.35 yards per attempt against the Giants. That was his highest yards-per-attempt average in a game since Nov. 25, 2018, when he averaged 8.43 in a 25-22 win over the Giants. Wentz still is 29th in the league in yards per attempt (6.3), however.

— Wentz had a 118.2 fourth-quarter passer rating in the Eagles' last two games. In the first five games, his fourth-quarter passer rating was 63.2. He had four touchdown passes and no interceptions in the fourth quarter the last two weeks.

— His 359 passing yards against the Giants last week was his most in a game since he put up 360 in a 27-20 win over the Cowboys on Nov. 11, 2018.

— Wentz has been sacked three or more times in six of the Eagles' seven games. His 28 sacks are the most in the league.

» READ MORE: The Eagles will have tight end Dallas Goedert for Sunday night’s meeting with the Dallas Cowboys

— In the Eagles' last four games, Wentz was under pressure on 44.7% of his drop-backs (76 of 170). In their first three games, he was under pressure on just 28% of his drop-backs (42 of 150).

Sunday night will be Wentz’s eighth career start against the Cowboys. He’s only 3-4 against them but has a 99.4 career passer rating that includes a 68.2 completion percentage, 12 TD passes, and just two interceptions.

— Wentz may be off to the poorest passing start of his career, but he’s been an integral part of the Eagles' ground game. He’s tied for fifth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns with five, behind only the Falcons' Todd Gurley (8), the Titans' Derrick Henry (7), the Vikings' Dalvin Cook (7), and the Cardinals' Kyler Murray (7). Wentz had a total of three rushing TDs in his first four seasons with the Eagles.

— Wentz also has 18 rushing first downs. That’s the fourth-most among quarterbacks in the league, behind only Murray (28), the Patriots' Cam Newton (22), and the Bills' Josh Allen (21). Wentz had 21 rushing first downs the entire 2019 season.

— The Eagles are tied for seventh in pass completions of 30 yards or more (10). The Cowboys have given up the third most pass plays of 30-plus yards (11). Wentz has six completions of 30 yards or more in the last three games, including three against the Giants — 59 yards to John Hightower, 40 to Travis Fulgham, and 30 to Richard Rodgers.

— Wentz threw 35 deep balls (throws of 20 yards or more) in the first seven games, including 20 in the last three. He’s on pace to throw 80 deep balls. The Eagles' previous high under Doug Pederson: 76 in 2017 (65 by Wentz, 11 by Nick Foles). Wentz has a 37.1 completion percentage and three touchdowns and three interceptions on deep balls this season.

Stopping Zeke and the run

— Ezekiel Elliott has averaged 4.7 yards per carry in six career games against the Eagles. He rushed for 100-plus yards in four of those six.

— Elliott averaged 96.5 rushing yards per game in his first four seasons. This year, he’s averaging just 65.4. In the Cowboys' last two games — lopsided losses to Arizona and Washington — he was held to 94 yards on 24 carries (3.9 yards per carry).

— Elliott already has fumbled five times and has lost four of them, including two in the Cowboys' Week 6 loss to the Cardinals.

— The Eagles are 24th in the NFL in run defense. They’ve allowed 130.4 yards per game on the ground. Their run-defense ranking the previous three years: third in 2019 (90.1), seventh in 2018 (96.9), and first in 2017 (79.2).

— The Eagles have held opposing running backs to 3.3 yards per carry but have struggled against mobile quarterbacks and misdirection plays and jet motion. Quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends have accounted for 42.9% of the rushing yards against the Eagles this season. Quarterbacks are averaging 7.6 yards per carry (30-227) and wide receivers/tight ends are averaging 10.3 (16-165).

— The Eagles are 24th in first-down rush average by opponents (5.0). The Cowboys are 22nd in first-down rush average (4.0). Elliott is averaging 4.4 yards per carry on first down and 4.1 overall.

» READ MORE: Despite injury setbacks and success of other rookie receivers, Jalen Reagor is ready to explode for the Eagles | Jeff McLane

The pass rush

— The Eagles are tied for third in sacks with 24. The Steelers have a league-high 26. The Bucs have 25, and the Rams are tied with the Eagles.

— Brandon Graham is tied for third in the league in sacks with six. He’s also third in tackles for losses (10) and sixth among edge-rushers in total quarterback pressures (29).

— Graham’s 29 QB pressures are the most on the Eagles. Malik Jackson and Fletcher Cox both have 19. Derek Barnett has 14.

— The Eagles sent five or more rushers on 6 of 33 pass plays last week (18.2%) against the Giants. Quarterback Daniel Jones was 5-for-6 for 91 yards and a touchdown when the Eagles blitzed. Jim Schwartz also used zone blitzes five times, dropping one or more defensive linemen into coverage and sending a linebacker and/or defensive back after Jones. It was the most Schwartz has used zone blitzes this season.

— It will be interesting to see what Schwartz’s approach is Sunday night against the Cowboys' rookie quarterback, Ben DiNucci. Schwartz has been known to break from character and blitz inexperienced QBs. In a 31-6 win over the Jets last season, the Eagles blitzed Luke Falk on 16 of 36 drop-backs (44.4%). Falk had two interceptions and two sacks when they sent extra rushers.

— The Eagles primarily have relied on a four-man rush, though. They’ve sent five or more rushers after quarterbacks on just 44 of 262 pass plays (16.8%). Opposing QBs have a 126.1 passer rating when the Eagles have blitzed, including a 75.0 completion percentage, 8.8 yards per attempt and three touchdowns. Only four of the Eagles' 24 sacks have come on blitzes. The other 21 all have been with four-man rushes.

— Schwartz has blitzed 20 times on first down, 14 times on second down, and just 10 times on third down.

— When the Eagles have blitzed this season, the three players who have been used the most have been linebacker Nate Gerry (19 rush opportunities, according to PFF) and defensive backs Jalen Mills and Cre’Von LeBlanc (both with 12).

» READ MORE: Stats, trends, and quotes that help explain how the Cowboys are 2-5

More good (and bad) stuff

— In their last three games, 86% of the Eagles' offensive plays have been out of shotgun. They used shotgun on 71.2% of their plays in the first four games. For the season, 77.2% of their plays have been out of shotgun. Last year, they used shotgun 71.8%.

— Slot receiver Greg Ward, who leads the Eagles in receptions with 29, is tied for ninth in the league in third-down receptions with 11, including nine that resulted in first downs.

— The Eagles have gone for it on fourth down 11 times this season but have converted only four. Their 36.4 fourth-down success rate is the seventh-lowest in the league. Last year, they were 29th on fourth down, converting just 33.3% of their fourth-down tries (8 of 24). They were 10th in 2018 (60.9%) and third in 2017 (65.9).

— The Eagles are 14th in third-down offense with a 43.4 conversion rate. In their last two games, they converted just 7 of 25 third-down opportunities (28%). They were 4-for-13 against the Giants and 3-for-12 against the Ravens. They converted just 1 of 4 third downs of 2 yards or less in the last two games, and were 3-for-15 on third downs of 7 yards or more.

— With tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert both out last week, the Eagles relied primarily on three- and four-wide receiver sets against the Giants. They used 11-personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3 WR) on 61 of 72 plays (84.7%), and 10-personnel (1RB, 0TE, 4WR) 7 times. They used 12-personnel (1RB, 2TE, 2WR) twice and 13-personnel (1RB, 3TE, 1WR) twice. In their first 3 games this season, the Eagles used 12-personnel on 54% of their total plays.