The sidestep, the spin. The fact that the pass rusher was inches away, and then was grabbing at air.
It isn't so much that Carson Wentz can scramble. Lots of quarterbacks can scramble. But Wentz seems to almost draw the defender into him, wait until contact is imminent, and then use quickness or leverage or both to pry himself free, sending the pursuer flying past. The latest and perhaps most amazing demonstration came Sunday when Wentz tried to throw a screen to his left, saw Chicago was all over it, somehow sensed blitzer Cre'Von LeBlanc coming at him from the right and spun like a bullfighter, then quickly launched into a full sprint and easily picked up an Eagles first down with a 16-yard run on third-and-9.
"I knew it was a cover zero and an all-out blitz. I thought our screen would be open, but the guy peeled off with him," Wentz said afterward. "From there, instincts just took over, and I was fortunate enough to make a play."
Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich was asked Tuesday if there was more than just physical talent involved in Wentz's escape.
"There was definitely a mental aspect," Reich said. "We had a couple different things built into that play, and so what you saw happen was he knew he had a frontside answer in the passing game, but he also had a backside answer. He decided to go with the backside answer, and when he looked over there … he quickly identified that that wasn't going to be there. So then, knowing the blitz that was coming to the front side, having the instincts to spin out was pretty impressive."
Reich was an NFL quarterback. How rare does he think it is, to be able to do that?
"I think it's pretty rare. I think everybody has that instinct and you can feel it, you can definitely feel it. But it's one thing to be able to feel it and know it's coming, and it's another thing to just escape from it a very high percentage of the time," Reich said. "I'm not going to say he's going to get away from every one of those, but what you see over the film … it's the consistency of his 'evadability,' [it] just continues to show up again and again and again and again. And so there's obviously something — a special quality that he has not only physically, but kind of that sixth sense to know where it's coming from."
Wentz was asked last week how he does this, before the Chicago game, because he'd spun away from Cowboys rushers just as effectively, seeming to wait until the rusher was almost on top of him to escape.
"Sometimes," he said, when asked if he has any sort of sidestep method. But he didn't hasten to divulge what that might be. "Usually it's just instincts and reaction. Sometimes you're waiting on a play or a route to break open, and so you're trying to wait last second, and [then] you get out. Sometimes you see 'em coming and you want to lure 'em in a little bit. But honestly, it's just instincts."
Frank Reich said activating rookie Shelton Gibson on Sunday for the first time this season was about "sharing the love a little bit" among a hard-working receivers group. … Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz didn't like the three penalties the Eagles took on the Bears' lone scoring drive, the opening drive of the third quarter, all of them resulting from defensive linemen mistiming the snap. "Some of that had to do with the snap … the center was sort of pawing at the ball, which he's not really supposed to be able to do," Schwartz said. "There's a fine line between getting off on the ball and guessing. I think in that first series [of the half], we were guessing a little too much, and it showed. We gave up a couple first downs. We've played pretty clean the whole year."
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