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The Eagles want to throw the ball deep, but can they do that and still keep Carson Wentz in one piece? | Early Birds

Wentz had another poor performance Sunday in the Eagles' loss to the Rams. But on the bright side, his sack total went from eight in Week 1 to zero.

Using a short passing game that allowed him to get the ball out quickly, Carson Wentz wasn't sacked Sunday, which was about the only positive news of his performance.
Using a short passing game that allowed him to get the ball out quickly, Carson Wentz wasn't sacked Sunday, which was about the only positive news of his performance.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Goooooood morning, EaglesNation. If you’re still in a funk over Sunday’s loss to the Rams, which dropped your team to 0-2 for the first time since 2015, keep in mind that it’s always darkest before the dawn. Or is it red sky in the morning sailor’s warning? Whatever.

The good news is the 0-2 Cincinnati Bengals are coming to town this weekend, and by Monday morning, everybody should be feeling a lot better about things. If the Eagles lose this one, well, The Inquirer will let you know where you can rent a plane with a “Doug must go” banner attached to the back.

If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here​. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @pdomo.

— Paul Domowitch (

The one good number from Sunday’s loss: zero sacks

There weren’t many numbers worth remembering with respect to Carson Wentz’s performance in Sunday’s 37-19 loss to the Rams.

He threw multiple interceptions for the second week in a row, marking the first time in his career that he had back-to-back multiple-interception performances.

His 56.5 passer rating was the fourth worst of his career. It was just the second time since his rookie season that he failed to throw at least one touchdown pass. And for just the fifth time since his rookie season, he averaged fewer than 5.7 yards per pass attempt.

The one and only positive Wentz number that came out of Sunday’s loss was the number of times he was sacked.


A week earlier, in the Eagles' 27-17 collapse against Washington, the Eagles quarterback was sacked a career-high eight times. On Sunday, despite his offensive line losing yet another starter when left guard Isaac Seumalo went down with a knee injury midway through the second quarter, he wasn’t sacked a single time for the first time since Week 4 of last season.

The return of All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson certainly helped. But so did Doug Pederson’s decision to go to a short passing game that wouldn’t have Wentz hanging on to the ball as long as he did in Week 1.

Just six of Wentz’s 43 passes Sunday traveled 11 yards or more in the air. Twenty-six traveled five yards or fewer.

According to Pro Football Focus, Wentz was pressured just seven times Sunday. Five of them were hurries. Just two were hits. In the Week 1 loss to Washington, he was pressured 21 times, according to PFF. Besides the eight sacks, he was hit three other times in that game.

While shortening the passing game kept Wentz off his butt, it didn’t do much for the Eagles' 2020 plan to stretch defenses. With the return of DeSean Jackson and the addition of first-round pick Jalen Reagor, Pederson hoped to bring the quick-strike capability back to his offense.

Jackson was targeted nine times Sunday and had six catches but for just 64 yards. He averaged 10.7 yards per catch, which is about seven yards less than his career average. Just one of his six catches was longer than nine yards.

Reagor was targeted four times and had four catches for only 41 yards. That’s 10.3 yards per catch. His longest reception was 16 yards.

“I’m pretty confident that we’re going to start blowing the lid off of [defenses],” Johnson said Tuesday in a Zoom call with reporters. "You saw that big play with Reagor against Washington [a 55-yard catch]. And you know what DeSean can do, and other guys.

“It’s only a matter of time. I’d like to see it soon just like everybody else. But I know what those guys can do. I have no problems with big plays.”

Despite Wentz’s struggles in the first two games, Johnson made it clear that his quarterback isn’t sitting in a corner at the NovaCare Complex feeling sorry for himself.

“He doesn’t blink,” the offensive tackle said. "He’s going about the work the same way he always has. He’s a diligent worker.

“There’s some throws he’d like to have back. But other than that, his resiliency, he doesn’t flinch.”

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. EJ Smith reports on Matt Pryor, who likely will be the Eagles' starting left guard for at least the next three games while Isaac Seumalo recovers from Sunday’s knee injury.

  2. Life without Malcolm Jenkins has gotten off to a rocky start. Les Bowen writes about how Jim Schwartz and his defense is coping.

  3. Schwartz kept the defensive game plan simple Sunday against the Rams. He admitted Tuesday that was a big mistake, Bowen reports.

  4. EJ uses advanced numbers to break down Wentz’s poor start.

  5. What better way to spend a half-hour than listening to the melodic sounds of the Fab Four on the Inquirer’s Eagles podcast?

  6. When you’re putting together the list of players to blame for the Eagles' 0-2 start, don’t forget Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Malik Jackson, writes Marcus Hayes.

From the mailbag

If Zach Ertz truly isn’t in their long-term plans, do you try to move him at the trade deadline for an impact position of need (maybe Allen Robinson)? Or wait and hope you can get a deal in the offseason? Of course, predicated that they don’t rip off 6 or 7 straight wins. — JB19 (@JTBoz19 on Twitter)

Thanks for the question, JB19. Howie Roseman, like any NFL general manager, always will listen to trade offers. And while dealing Ertz before the trade deadline always is possible if somebody makes an attractive offer, I don’t think it’s probable. Given the Eagles' injury problems on the offensive line, it looks like they’re going to need to play a lot of 12-personnel again this season. In Sunday’s loss to the Rams, the Eagles played 12-personnel on 54 of 69 offensive snaps. That means keeping Ertz around this season.

That said, the Eagles are not going to be in a very favorable cap situation next season, and Ertz’s cap number for this year and next year is $12.4 million. He’ll turn 30 in November, and while he still is one of the league’s top tight ends, I don’t see the Eagles committing a lot of money to him beyond next season, which is when both his contract and Dallas Goedert’s are set to expire.

This is not exactly like the Brian Dawkins situation back in 2009. Ertz is very popular in this town. But Eagles fans won’t go crazy if they end up trading Ertz or letting him walk as a free agent and getting compensation. Ertz is well-liked by the organization, including Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie. He has given a lot of blood, sweat and tears to the Eagles during his career. They would like to figure out a way to give Ertz and Goedert new deals that overlap for a year, maybe two, and then have Ertz ride off into the sunset in a midnight green jersey. I’m just not sure that’s going to happen.