Wentz progressing despite drop-off in production
PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz has cooled off following a blazing start and already has lost more games in the past seven weeks than he did in four years at North Dakota State.
He’s still making progress.
The stats say the rookie quarterback has regressed since leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 3-0 start, but his coach, the coach he played against last week and the coach he faces this week see things differently.
“I’ve been very impressed with his video,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Physically, he has everything you want: athletic, can make all the throws, plays with really good composure. I like the command he has of their offense.
“I’m always in preference of the quarterback (who) can beat you from the pocket and out of the pocket, and he has that ability. So I think he’s a dynamic young player (who is) going to have a very bright future.”
McCarthy gets his first in-person look at Wentz when the struggling Packers (4-6) visit the Eagles (5-5) on Monday night.
Pete Carroll saw Wentz last week when the Seahawks handed Philadelphia its most lopsided loss this season, 26-15.
Wentz tossed two interceptions and posted his second-lowest passer rating (61.2) at Seattle despite two touchdown passes . But Carroll loved his all-around game.
“He’s gonna be a great player,” Carroll said on a Seattle radio station this week. “There’s no question. He’s got everything you need. He’s got great poise, he’s tough, he’s fast, he’s strong and he’s got some sense already — and he was changing plays and he handled the noise. He did a great job. He really did.”
Eagles coach Doug Pederson blames himself for Wentz’s drop in production. The No. 2 overall pick threw seven TD passes before his first pick came in the fourth quarter of his fourth game. In six games since, Wentz has only four TDs and six interceptions.
“Well, the way to get him back on track is I’ve got to do a better job with the run game,” Pederson said. “You can’t put 45 pass attempts on a young quarterback in this league against that (Seahawks) defense in that stadium. You’re doing him a disservice. But we’ve got to do a better job as coaches.”
Wentz isn’t used to losing. The Bison were 57-4 and won the FCS championship each year during his four seasons at North Dakota State. Wentz only started 23 games in college so he’s more inexperienced than most rookie QBs.
He wasn’t even supposed to be active this season, but jumped from No. 3 on the depth chart to No. 1 when the Eagles traded Sam Bradford to Minnesota eight days before the season opener.
“The experience has been huge,” Wentz said. “Every week there’s something new. There’s new outside things that happen.
“It’s hard to say if I’m better or worse. I’m playing confident. I’m playing faster and faster and I’m feeling comfortable with what I’m seeing from the opponent.”
Though the Eagles are 2-5 after winning their first three games, they’ve had a chance to win four of the five they lost.
They wasted fourth-quarter leads in two of the games and couldn’t score the winning TD despite four chances inside the red zone in the final minute of another game. All of their losses were on the road.
“I think we’re close,” Wentz said. “You see little things that add up. We’re right there. Certain plays here and there whether it’s reads or locking in on guys, there’s little things I need to learn from and keep maturing in this offense.
“It’s just executing, being smart with the football and know when to take chances, when to protect the ball and it’s something we’re all learning together but we’re right there.”
Wentz’s best attributes are his work ethic and temperament. Teammates rave about his preparation and even-keel personality.
“As a quarterback, you have to always be the same, good, bad or indifferent,” Wentz said. “Guys want to see a consistent guy in the huddle.”
Even other QBs are impressed.
“He’s got a great demeanor,” Aaron Rodgers said. “He has a great arm, but he throws the ball with great anticipation and for a young quarterback that’s tough to teach.
“He seems to have that moxie that great quarterbacks have where you have that charisma about you that you kind of raise the level of your teammates’ play.”