As ESPN.com’s Tim McManus reminded readers, Carson Wentz
is coming off arguably his worst performance as a pro, in which he turned the ball over four times in a 17-9 Week 12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
But it hasn't been good in general.
He ranks 30th in yards per attempt
this season (6.52) and 21st in completion percentage (62.6). The offense is 23rd in passing yards per game (217) under his stewardship. In losses to the Patriots and Seahawks the past two weeks, Wentz fumbled a total of five times and was responsible for five turnovers (two interceptions, three lost fumbles).
The Eagles are now 0-3 in games in which Wentz has multiple turnovers this season.
So what's up with Wentz?
As McManus explained, Wentz has been inconsistent in his short and intermediate throws, as evidenced in the first drive against the Seahawks on Sunday when he threw behind tight end Zach Ertz
across the middle and sailed one well over the head of running back Miles Sanders
down the left sideline. Head coach Doug Pederson referenced mechanics when this issue was brought up.
"It's not the yips," he said. "There are times when it's just a matter of setting your feet as a quarterback and just delivering a short throw, or getting your eyes on target a lot sooner than you do."
The coaching staff felt Wentz was pressing against New England, at times opting for low-percentage throws into coverage downfield when he had an open receiver underneath. He has gotten better in this area overall but can fall into the habit of trying to will a big play to happen rather than letting the offense work for him, which makes the whole operation feel like one giant struggle.
It also bleeds into the area of awareness, where Wentz will sometimes hold onto the ball too long or hang in the pocket for an extra half-second to try and make something happen despite the walls collapsing around him. That's often when the ball will end up on the turf.
But it's not just Wentz.
It's not hard to argue the fourth-year QB is working with probably the worst wide receiver corps in the NFL. The group ranks 31st in yards (1,118) and yards after the catch (335) and last in yards per reception (10.75). The Eagles rank fourth in drops (17) and second in receiving fumbles (5). Not a great combination.
Injuries have stripped Wentz of many of his top playmakers. He has been without speed receiver DeSean Jackson
for almost the entire season and was missing all three of his original starting wideouts -- Alshon Jeffery
, Jackson and Nelson Agholor
-- last Sunday because of injury, leaving him with a group that included Mack Hollins
, rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside
, Jordan Matthews
and Greg Ward
, who was called up from the practice squad late in the week.
The Eagles' best two linemen, Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks, did not play Sunday, either. Mix a leaky front with a bare-bones receiver group and some questionable play calling in spots, and you get a quarterback who is well out of his comfort zone.
Despite these obstacles, Wentz is eighth in QBR (63.0), has thrown 17 touchdowns to six interceptions and has 10 TDs to zero interceptions in the red zone for a passer rating of 97.8.
The good news?
Wentz and the Eagles take on a struggling Miami defense. He'll likely have Johnson and Brooks back, as well as Jeffery and Agholor, which will stabilize things.
As ESPN.com's Tristan Cockcroft reminded his readers, Baker Mayfield
just dropped 23.6 fantasy points on the Dolphins' defense, whose 5.2 adjusted fantasy points added for the full season are second-most behind the Raiders' 5.7.
Whether Jeffery and Agholor are at full speed or not, Wentz has a pair of quality tight ends (Ertz, Dallas Goedert
), plus a pass-catching running back (Sanders) to throw to.
The Dolphins grade a top-five matchup for tight ends using full-season data (and upper half using past-five-weeks numbers) as well as for pass-catching running backs (again upper half using past-five stats), so Wentz has options. Let's hope he can cash in on the plus-matchup.
One issue, of course, is Ertz's health; he's listed as questionable
with a hamstring injury but is expected to play -- although the team did promote tight end Josh Perkins
from the practice squad as insurance.
The news isn't as good for Jordan Howard
(shoulder), who was ruled out earlier today