Eagles film breakdown: What happened to Carson Wentz in Seattle?
Carson Wentz's MVP-worthy season hit a speed bump against the Seahawks. The Eagles quarterback battled throughout, but he made mistakes in Seattle that were uncharacteristic.
COSTA MESA, Calif — Each week this season, we'll break down a player, trend or scheme from the Eagles' previous game using the coaches' all-22 film. This week, we spotlight Carson Wentz, who struggled in Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Seahawks.
Just a glance at his final statistics — 348 yards passing, a 64.4 completion percentage, 30 yards rushing, one touchdown throw — might make it seem as if Wentz had a solid performance. And there was some excellent quarterbacking Sunday night. But Wentz didn't play at the level that the Eagles had become accustomed to this season — and that they needed if they were to win at CenturyLink Field.
He missed receivers. He didn't pick up blitzes. And for the first time all season, he turned the ball over more than once.
Wentz: It was the story of the game, really. We turned the ball over. They didn't. On a road game like this, in this atmosphere against a great team like they are, it's tough to win when you do that.
The Seahawks were clearly prepared for Wentz's ability to run and his penchant for not sliding. On the Eagles' first possession, he scrambled for a first down, but opted to slide. Seattle safety Bradley McDougald (30) hit Wentz while he was on the ground and near his head.
McDougald was penalized, but his aggressiveness was a sign that the Seahawks were going after Wentz and the ball even after he crossed the line of scrimmage.
Pederson: That's the fine line that you've got to be careful of taking the aggression away from your quarterback … because I don't ever want to do that. But at the same time, we've got to continue to educate and talk to him about sliding and protecting himself.
Wentz bounced up from the hit and gave the Eagles sideline thumbs up that he was OK. Later in the second quarter, he took another shot when defensive end Frank Clark, despite being whistled for offside, blindsided him. Wentz winced. A day later, Pederson was asked about his quarterback's health.
Pederson: He is good. I talked to him last night on the plane. He was fine.
The Eagles had an early opportunity downfield, but Wentz overshot a wide-open Nelson Agholor (13).
Wentz: I've got to make that throw.
Last year, Wentz sometimes sailed downfield passes over his receivers' heads. He had a few similar-type miscues early this season, but mostly he has been accurate beyond 20 yards.
When he misses, it's often when he has time and a clean pocket. He worked to fine-tune his mechanics this off-season, to keep his right foot under his shoulder so that he would overstride less. Pederson was asked if the overthrow to Agholor had anything to do with faulty mechanics.
Pederson: Not at all. Sometimes as quarterbacks, you just miss. Those are things that we continue to coach up. Carson's hard on himself and working on it this week, and he won't miss next time.
The Eagles drove into Seahawks territory in the second quarter. Wentz had tight end Zach Ertz (86) on a skinny post route, but the ball was underthrown. It appeared as if Seattle defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (91), who had rushed around left guard Stefen Wisniewski (61), laid a hand on Wentz just as he threw.
That was the only pass Ertz saw in the first half. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery wasn't targeted at all before the break.
Wentz: We were just trying to figure out what was working for us through the ground, through the air. We were obviously a little stagnant there. They didn't do anything differently to take those guys away. It was just kind of the way things happened.
The Eagles went no-huddle to open the third quarter, and Wentz got Ertz and Jeffery (17) involved immediately. He also started to make Wentz-like plays.
Wentz: We just kind of found it in the second half, came out right away and went with our no-huddle drive. That kind of got us a little boost.
The offensive line was giving him time, and on this 23-yard strike to Jeffery from the pocket, the Eagles picked up a blitz.
The Eagles advanced as far as the Seattle 4. On second down, Wentz kept on a zone read play and ran downhill toward the goal line. Sliding didn't seem like an option. His momentum appeared to have him lunging forward, and as Wentz was being tackled to the ground, Richardson ripped the ball out.
Wentz: I saw the goal line, so I thought it was going to be close. Made that extra lunge and it cost me.
Richardson: [I] saw on film he likes to fight for extra yards.
Pederson: I applaud the fact that he was going for the end zone and the touchdown. But at the same time, you know you're going to be in some traffic; you want to try and secure the ball as best you can.
Richardson: He's a quarterback — he's not used to being hit down in and down out, so protecting the ball is something he's still a little foreign to.
The Seahawks scored a touchdown off the turnover to go ahead, 17-3. The Eagles struck back on the first play of their next drive. Agholor was once again wide open deep, and Wentz once again had time and a clean pocket.
Agholor picked up 32 yards, but Wentz acknowledged that he left yards and a potential six points on the table.
Wentz: He was so open, I didn't want to miss it. I got to just trust him, lead him and let him go and run after the catch.
Pederson: When you overshoot the first one [to Agholor], the next time he's wide open, you almost guide the ball.
4th and 3
The Eagles stalled on the drive, though, and faced 4th and 3 at the Seahawks' 25. Pederson elected to go for it.
Running back Kenjon Barner (38), who played only two offensive snaps the entire game, got caught up releasing through the line. His delay forced Wentz to hold the ball a smidgeon longer, but the unblocked K.J. Wright was bearing down.
Wentz: We had a great play design. [Barner] just didn't sneak out, and I missed him.
Pederson: [I] felt that we were going to get the front coverage that we expected. We had a "man" beater called. Offense just failed to execute the play.
Wright: We wanted to be aggressive on their fourth downs, and that's one of our favorite blitzes that we run. We run it at least two or three times a game.
The Eagles finally got into the end zone in the fourth quarter, but it took two otherworldly Wentz throws to accomplish the feat.
On the first, Wentz escaped the pocket to his right and stumbled, but just before he fell, he chucked the ball 50-some yards down the field over cornerback Byron Maxwell (41) and to Agholor.
Wentz: At some point in the game, you've just got to try and make plays and extend some of them.
Maxwell: That was a great play. There's not much to say. He just threw it off of his one foot for 52 yards.
The Eagles capped the drive with a slow-developing, man-defense-beating play. Agholor ran a fake post out of the slot that turned into a wheel route after receiver Torrey Smith picked his man. Wentz had to step up in the pocket, though. He threw a remarkable lead pass across his body that landed in Agholor's bucket for a 27-yard touchdown.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: We gave up the one touchdown drive with two miraculous plays by [Wentz], which is nothing new. He's been doing it all year. He's an amazing player.
Just not on this night.