The Philadelphia Eagles' No. 2 overall draft pick is averaging an astounding 47 pass attempts over the last four games behind an unsteady, makeshift offensive line. But neophyte head coach Doug Pederson believes Carson Wentz's high volume of dropbacks is of benefit to the former North Dakota State star, both now and in the future.
With 498 passes, and three games to play, Wentz is on pace to shatter Donovan McNabb's 2008 Eagles record of 571 pass attempts in a season.
"I didn't anticipate him throwing the ball quite as much," Pederson said. "I felt he was capable of doing it, but you never want to expose a rookie quarterback to that. Listen, he's done some outstanding things for us, both in the running game and the passing game. Have we asked a lot of him? Yeah, we have, and he's handled it extremely well. It's just making him a better quarterback for not only the rest of the season, but for the future."
The rookie's current pace is raising more than a few eyebrows, particularly considering the two-time FCS national champion received no training camp or preseason reps after sustaining a hairline rib fracture in Philadelphia's first preseason game.
ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio condemned Pederson's pass-happy attack during an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic yesterday, calling his entire handling of Philly's quarterback situation "coaching malpractice".
"I'd love to manage [pass attempts] a little bit more for him," Pederson said. "I think that's putting him in a tough situation. As you mentioned, we've gotten behind. Last week, the two-minute drive to go down, and everything was a throw. The week before, down so early and so fast that we had to throw the ball. I'd love to lean on the offensive line more with the run game. Obviously, you know, we're going against a tough run defense this week, and yet we still have to be patient with that to help our quarterback."
"There's ways to run the ball, you don't necessarily just have to line up and run at them. We do some things with our run-pass option game. I even think the three-step passing game, the quick passing game can offset your run game a little bit, and it keeps your quarterback from being hit. But, yeah, you're still gonna have to line up and try to go toe-to-toe with a good defense."
Wentz is expected to receive another healthy dose of pass attempts this weekend as Baltimore's suffocating run defense allows just 75 rushing yards per game (1st in NFL).
You can watch the full press conference from Pederson below.