PHILADELPHIA (CBS)- The Eagles season has already begun to draw the ire of fans, even without them being able to attend games. At 0-2, the team ranks dead last by a sizable margin in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, which measures the efficiency of every team in the league. The culprit in that ranking has been the offense which is also in the cellar below the struggling units of the Giants, Washington Football team and Jets.
While there are plenty of factors to point to for the unit’s slow start, the one driving the conversation is the play of quarterback Carson Wentz. After impressing down the stretch of the 2019 season with his quick decision making and avoiding interceptions, Wentz has gone backwards to start this season.
Through two games he has thrown four interceptions with an interception rate (4.7%) double that of even his rookie season (2.3%). He has done so while completing 58% of his passes and tossing just two touchdowns on the year. So what is happening with the Eagles QB? NFL on CBS analyst James Lofton boils it down to simply pushing too hard.
“We all saw the ball that he tried to force down the middle. There’s a phrase in football ‘he’s trying to do too much’. That’s normally attached to guys that aren’t good enough. Carson Wentz is good enough and he’s still trying to do too much at times,” said Lofton. “He has to go from being a guy who can make every throw to maybe being a guy who can take a little bit off, dump it down, let somebody else do the work and maybe on this drive we just have to punt. You have to wait for the fourth quarter for fourth quarter heroics. You can’t perform those in the first, second and third quarter.”
The throw Lofton is referencing is arguably the turning point from the team’s Week 2 loss to the Rams when, down 21-16 and driving into Rams territory with an opportunity to potentially take the lead, Wentz threw an interception in the end zone on 1st and 10 from the 21.
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Lofton points out that the Eagles have had made quite a few changes at the wide receiver position, and developing chemistry with those receivers takes time. But, that throw is a situation in the third quarter where Wentz may have been better served looking for a different option.
Still, despite the early season struggles, Lofton doesn’t think the Eagles coaching staff should try to rein in Wentz’s drive to make those types of throws.
“Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. Carson Wentz, his greatest strength may be his competitiveness. You don’t want to take that away from him,” said Lofton. “You don’t want to say ‘don’t make that throw’. You don’t want to say ‘don’t do this’. Continue to try and do it because you’re probably going to be successful more times than you are unsuccessful. I wouldn’t try and rein him in.”
Not reining him in doesn’t mean letting him continue without correction however. Lofton notes that Pederson and the rest of the offensive staff need to work with Wentz during film sessions to point out those plays where the decision making, based on situation, needs to be better. In the end, Lofton believes the Eagles staff can turn Wentz’s season around.
“There are still good people around him and they’ll get him straightened out I think,” said Lofton.
The first chance to do that comes this Sunday, September 27 when the Birds welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to Lincoln Financial Field. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS3.