Lack of support sabotaging Wentz
ARLINGTON, Texas-Carson Wentz needs help. The question for the Eagles will be do they trade for a wide receiver before Tuesday's deadline or do they sit idly with a group that is stunting the rookie quarterback's growth?
ARLINGTON, Texas - Carson Wentz needs help.
The question for the Eagles will be do they trade for a wide receiver before Tuesday's deadline or do they sit idly with a group that is stunting the rookie quarterback's growth?
Wentz completed 32 of 43 passes in the Eagles' 29-23 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, and yet he amassed only 202 yards through the air. That's a paltry 4.7 yards per attempt even though he completed 74 percent of his throws.
"It was just kind of the nature of the game," Wentz said. "They were kind of a defense that gives you underneath stuff. . . . We had some shots called and I had to just check down because that's what they gave us."
Five of Wentz's passes hit the turf because receivers dropped them. Jordan Matthews had two drops, and Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Josh Huff each had one apiece. All. Five. Receivers.
In a matchup between the NFL's two best rookie quarterbacks, Dak Prescott was the victor according to the scoreboard and the stat sheet, but in the ever-important category of quarterbacking Wentz got the nod. One is surrounded by future Hall of Famers. The other is surrounded by Hall of Shamers.
Prescott tossed a costly interception before the half, but he rebounded. He drove the Cowboys 90 yards on 11 plays late in the fourth quarter to knot the score, 23-23. He completed 5 of 8 passes for 78 yards and scrambled once for 12 on the drive.
And he engineered the game-winning drive that resulted in his play-extending 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten.
Of course, it helps to have weapons such as Witten and Dez Bryant, who pulled in a ridiculous 22-yard touchdown pass to cap the earlier drive. Wentz, meanwhile, had to increasingly hold the ball when he needed to throw downfield. His receivers just weren't getting open, and Pederson's play-calling, for the most part, remained conservative.
"Carson's not gun-shy," Matthews said. "He wants to take those shots downfield. . . . We got to instill confidence in our coaches and Carson to give us those opportunities."
The Eagles' longest pass attempt wasn't even by Wentz. It was Huff who threw deep to Matthews on a receiver option trick play in the fourth. Well, Huff was once a high school quarterback.
To Pederson's credit, he did entrust his young quarterback to get points before the half even though the Eagles started from their own 20 with one minute, 26 seconds left. Wentz completed 6 of 7 passes to advance to the Cowboys 37.
Most impressive was his 7-yard sideline toss to Green-Beckham with five seconds to go. Wentz had only a few options with so little time left on the clock, but he got the ball out in time, and kicker Caleb Sturgis converted from 55 yards out and the Eagles led, 13-10, at the half.
Wentz is already adept at running the no-huddle and Pederson played to that strength early in the third quarter. On a 12-play, 69-yard drive, he dinked and dunked his way down the field and capped the series with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Matthews.
The Eagles were ahead, 20-10,
If Wentz and Prescott are to be the stars of the NFC East for the next decade or so, there will be plenty of time for both of their offenses to change based on personnel and their evolving skills. But right now one has a much better supporting cast than the other.
Prescott can throw the ball down the field, despite the perception that he doesn't have the arm strength. His 53-yard heave to Bryant in the first quarter proved as much. But Wentz still has the bigger gun.
You wouldn't know it by watching most of the game. He didn't attempt a pass over 20 yards through the first three quarters. And his one attempt in the 15-to-20-yard range was dropped by Matthews in the second.
But there's no point in trying to milk a bull. It could be argued that Wentz needed to take one or two shots deep just to keep the safeties honest. But what are the odds that Agholor or Green-Beckham was going to get separation or make a play on the ball at this point? 10-1? 20-1?
Those aren't good numbers and so Pederson played conservatively, especially in the first half. Wentz completed 17 of 20 throws before the break. That's good, right? Well, not when your average per attempt is 5.4 yards.
Prescott, by comparison, was 5 of 13, but he amassed 118 yards through the air, or 9.1 yards per attempt. Of course, he had Bryant and Witten, and Ezekiel Elliott at running back.
Wentz had Darren Sproles and a collection of receivers with hands of stone. It will be interesting to see if Eagles executive Howie Roseman pulls the trigger on acquiring a receiver before Tuesday's trade deadline. If the Eagles had won he may have owed it to the team to upgrade. He still may. The season is still young and the Eagles are only two games back.
It will depend on the cost, of course. The 49ers' Torrey Smith is a better option than Agholor or Green-Beckham, particularly down the field, but he's in decline. You at least want a player who will produce for more than just the rest of the season.
A trade for the Bears' Alshon Jeffery is unlikely because of his franchise tag, but what about the New York Jets' Brandon Marshall? His team beat the Browns on Sunday, but the Jets have to know their season is teetering on the edge.
The future is important, and Wentz will need young receivers to grow with if/when the Eagles find them in the coming drafts. The present cast is terrifying.
Now you know what to dress as on Halloween.