Constructive on Carson: Wentz effective enough in win over Cowboys

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Following their bye week, Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles traveled to Dallas to take on the divisional rival Cowboys, with a good chance to all-but wrap up the division on Sunday Night Football. The Eagles entered the game on a seven-game winning streak, with Wentz one of the most serious contenders for NFL MVP. 

Here are my in-game notes on Wentz's performance against the Dallas Cowboys: 

First Quarter

Drive One

  • After the Cowboys hit a field-goal to open the game, the Eagles opened the game on their own 25. 
  • Wentz connected with Torrey Smith on the opening play of the drive for a first down. 
  • The Eagles followed that up with a nearly identical play, with Smith going for a seven-yard gain. 
  • After Jay Ajayi ran for a first down on the following play, Wentz put Nelson Agholor in motion to the right, before hitting Ajayi on a screen pass on the left side of the offensive line that went for a first down. It was a well-drawn up play. 
  • Following two consecutive effective runs from Blount, Wentz connected with Kenjon Barner on a back-shoulder throw to put the Eagles inside the 10-yard line. If it was designed to be a back-shoulder throw, it was a nice back-shoulder throw. Barner, who bobbled the ball, did a great job to get his feet down in bounds after he got control of the ball. 

  • On the following play, the Eagles handed off to Barner, who just got the ball across the plane for a four-yard touchdown. 

Drive Two

  • Following a second field-goal from Mike Nugent, Wentz and the Eagles took the field on the 23. Wentz, ran the read-option with Blount, but kept the ball for a six-yard gain. 
  • Wentz connected with Alshon Jeffery for a 22-yard gain at midfield on the following play. 
  • After a dangerous pass attempt to Zach Ertz, Wentz attempted to connect with Ertz on the sideline, but was unable to do so. Byron Jones was a bit handsy with his coverage. 
  • On third down, the pocket collapsed and Wentz ran for a short gain, that was well short of the first down. As they showed on the broadcast, Agholor was set to run his route into the middle of the field, where there was a ton of open space. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Wentz was flushed out of the pocket before that could happen. 

Drive Three

  • Following an interception from Rodney McLeod, the Eagles opened the drive on the Cowboys' five-yard line. 
  • Ajayi lost a yard on first down, before Wentz was unable to connect with Jeffery on a second-down shot to the endzone. 
  • On third-and-11, Wentz gave Agholor a chance to catch the ball by the goal line, but he was unable to haul in the low pass. Agholor wanted a pass interference penalty, though from here, it was probably a good no-call, especially considering that Dez Bryant was contacted much more in the endzone and it wasn't called earlier in the quarter. 
  • Wentz took a big shot on the third-down throw, and was checked briefly for a concussion. Evidently, he was cleared, because he came back onto the field after a Dallas three-and-out. 

Second Quarter

Drive Four

  • Wentz rolled right to open the fourth drive, and made a poor decision to throw the ball to Agholor on a short-route. It was evident as Wentz rolled to the right that he was throwing to Agholor, which left Agholor to take a big hit when the ball finally got to him. Without seeing the All-22, it's unclear if anyone else was open downfield, but if not, Wentz would have been better served throwing the ball away, rather than leaving one of his top offensive weapons to take a big hit. 
  • On third-and-five, Wentz again tried to connect with Agholor on a deep pass, but the two were never especially close to connecting. Anthony Brown had very good coverage on Agholor, who the Eagles struggled to get involved early in the game. 

Drive Five

  • Following another three-and-out, the Eagles started on their own nine-yard line. Wentz connected with Mack Hollins for a seven-yard gain. Hollins doesn't get a ton of chances, but when he does he makes the best of them. 
  • After Blount lost two yards on second down, he attempted to connect with Jeffery over the middle of the field, but wasn't able to. Jeffery wanted a pass interference penalty, but the refs seem committed to letting the players play and nothing was called. 

Drive Six

  • Following a Ronald Darby pick, the Eagles ran a failed bootleg on the Dallas 46. 
  • On second down, Wentz had great protection and made a pass that Torrey Smith should have caught. Instead, he dropped it, something he's done far too much this season. There's a point where Smith may begin to lose snaps to Hollins, and we may not be far from that point. 
  • After a short run from Ajayi, the Eagles again punted. 

Drive Seven

  • Following another Cowboys field goal, the Eagles opened their seventh drive on their own 25. In a good summary of what went on in the first half, Wentz was unable to connect with Agholor on first down. 
  • Wentz connected with Ertz on second down for a short gain, his first catch of the game. Needless to say, it wasn't a coincidence that that Eagles offense stalled at the same time that Ertz did. 
  • After this play, especially since Jake Elliott was hurt, the Eagles probably should have just ran the ball and gone into the locker room. Spoiler alert: they didn't do that. 
  • On third down, Wentz had the ball tipped at the line, and was lucky to not have the ball picked by Brown. Because the ball hung in the air for so long, it probably wouldn't have been a pick-six if Brown was able to haul it in, but it certainly would have given them a chance to tack on another field-goal before halftime. It was a lucky break for the Eagles. 

Third Quarter

Drive Eight

  • Ajayi ran for eight yards to open the second half. He was unable to quite run for a fist down on the next play, putting the Eagles into a third-and-short situation. 
  • On third-and-one, the Eagles went with a ballsy call, with Wentz rolling to the right, while Brent Celek leaked out on the opposite side of the field for a 28-yard gain. It was a well executed play, and good job by Pederson to get another tight-end involved after Ertz was all-but shutout in the first half. 
  • On first-and-10, Wentz waited awkwardly long to get rid of the ball and nearly ran out of bounds. This was something that he struggled with in his rookie year, but hadn't been a problem through the first nine games of 2017. 
  • On third-and-nine, Wentz stayed in the pocket and connected with Jeffery for an 18-yard gain. Wentz was well protected. 
  • Following an eight-yard run from Corey Clement, the Eagles again handed off to Clement, who ran for an 11-yard touchdown. 
  • With Elliott injured, the Eagles went for two, and Clement again found his way into the endzone after catching the ball at the line of scrimmage from Wentz. 

Drive Nine

  • Following a Cowboys punt, the Eagles opened their ninth drive on their own 10-yard line with a four-yard run by Blount. 
  • Ajayi had been held in check in the first half, but exploded through a hole created by Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jason Kelce for a 71-yard gain. The Jay Train rolled the Eagles all the way to the Dallas 15-yard line. 
  • After failing to connect with Ertz on first down, Wentz handed off to Blount for a five-yard gain on second down. 
  • On third-and-five, Wentz displayed great patience in the pocket while the play developed. When the pocket began to collapse, he stepped up, rolled out to the right and then fired a strike to Smith for a touchdown. Even on a night where Wentz wasn't overly impressive, he still flashed plays like this that show how special he can be. 

  • Wentz connected with Jeffery for a second consecutive successful two-point conversion. 


Drive 10

  • The Eagles opened their 10-yard line. Following a short run by Blount on first down, Clement showed some burst, nearly getting a first down on a second-down carry. 
  • On third-and-inches, the Eagles ran the read-option, and for the second time of the night, Wentz ran for a first down. He won't get any style points for his slide, but it got the job done.  
  • One second-and-eight, Wentz connected with Ertz for a six-yard gain, which was the final play of the third quarter. 

Fourth Quarter

Drive 10 (continued)

  • On third-and-two, Wentz skirted in front of a potential Damien Wilson sack and found Jeffery for a first down. As Cris Collinsworth said, there's just not that many quarterbacks his size that can make plays like that. Most quarterbacks would have been sacked.

  • Following two short runs, Agholor made a catch in the backfield, but was taken down. Well, sort of. His knee hit the ground, but he got up and scored on a play that displayed his athleticism. The play was ultimately overturned, and instead of being a touchdown, ended up being a two-yard loss. 
  • On fourth-and-five, Jeffery did a tremendous job to haul in a pass from Wentz that he bobbled. It was a great catch on the goal line, and it was ruled that he rolled into the endzone before being touched. 

Final Drives

  • On the 11th drive, Wentz didn't throw a pass. The 12th drive consisted of him kneeling the ball to run the clock out. 

Week 10 Takeaways

  • Wentz wasn't 14/27 for 168 yard, two touchdowns and no picks. 
  • There's going to be MVP cases built for Drew Brees and Tom Brady nationally, but even after a night where he was relatively quiet, Wentz is probably the favorite. 
  • I'll be interested to see if Wentz develops any concussion symptoms after the hit that he took in the first quarter. If Nick Foles had to play next week against the Chicago Bears, the Eagles probably wouldn't be in trouble, but you obviously don't want your franchise quarterback to sustain any sort of head injury. 
  • For as well-balanced as the New Orleans Saints have been, the Eagles have four running-backs that are contributing, the league's top tight-end in 2017, a strong group of wideouts and an offensive line that hasn't taken much of a step back without Jason Peters. Oh, and an MVP candidate at quarterback. The Eagles have as well-rounded of an offensive unit as anyone in the NFC. 
  • Wentz and Jeffery appear to have gotten on the same page. The Eagles didn't do a ton through the air tonight, but Jeffery had three catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. He also scored on a two-point conversion. Throughout the season, him simply being on the field seemed to positively affect the offense because he garners respect from opposing teams. Now that he's clicked with Wentz, he fully seems worth an extension. 
  • When the Eagles play on Sunday Night Football next year, I have a feeling that Wentz may be standing next to Carrie Underwood in the SNF intro. 

Go to top button