The Eagles are doing their best to try to help Carson Wentz succeed within his limitations.
A confidential source close to the Eagles told NJ Advance Media that the Philadelphia coaching staff has been fruitlessly trying to design simpler plays that lessen the load on their struggling signal-caller, whose performance this season has become a liability to the team.
“Carson is a broken quarterback,” the source said. “Even when he throws a good ball, he’s skittish and unsure.”
The 27-year-old fifth-year QB has completed 220 of 377 attempts this season (58.4 percent) for 2,326 yards, 24 touchdowns and a NFL leading 14 interceptions, which ties his career high (2016) through just ten games. He has led the team to a 3-6-1 record. The three wins came against a Nick Mullens-led 49ers team, the Giants and the Cowboys.
Their strategy aims to ensure a receiver is open immediately so Wentz will not have to run through progressions — which has been a pain point this year — and will minimize the time he spends in the pocket. The Eagles’ offensive line is allowing an average of four sacks per game, which ranks last in the NFL and has visibly impacted his confidence.
The team had been ravaged by injuries early with Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Jalen Reagor, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson all missing time this year. Ertz and Jackson are still on injured reserve, but the others have returned, which seems to have made little impact on the Eagles’ offense. Wentz has actually begun to favor his veterans pass-catchers of late, namely tight ends Dallas Goedert and Richard Rodgers, over Travis Fulgham and Jalen Reagor.
“[Wentz] trusts his tight ends more than his wide receivers,” the source said.
In spite of Wentz’s struggles, head coach Doug Peterson has remained steadfast in his decision to not make the switch to 2020 second-rounder Jalen Hurts while the team is in first place.
“If you get to that spot, whether you don’t start him or bench him, you are sending the wrong message to your football team that your season is over and that is a bad message,” Pederson said after the Eagles’ Week 11 loss to the Browns. “We have to work through this. When times get tough, sometimes (changing quarterbacks) might be the easy thing to do. .. Jalen is preparing himself each week to play and that’s what a backup quarterback should do.
“With the way the game was going and the elements and we were just really a score from putting ourselves back into this, I did not consider [making a quarterback change]. No questions about it, [Wentz is] our starter.”
Wentz signed a four-year, $128 million contract extension ahead of the 2019 season. He carries a $34.7 million salary cap hit and $59.2 million dead cap hit in 2021, according to Spotrac. Those figures drop to $31.3 million and $24.5 million in 2022, $36.3 million and $15.3 million in 2023, and $32 million and $6 million in 2024 which makes the prospect of moving on from him in the near-term unlikely.
The Eagles enter Week 12 in sole possession of first place in the NFC East and will face the Seahawks (7-3) on Monday night in Philadelphia. They have a narrow lead over the Giants, Washington and Cowboys — all of whom are 3-7 and could usurp the Eagles as soon as this week.