Eagles

Eagles film review: Carson Wentz fakes and freezes Denver's D

A few weeks ago, Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said Carson Wentz carried out fakes better than any quarterback he's ever been around. 

Carrying out a fake is certainly a skill but more than anything it's effort and timing. 

On Sunday against the Broncos, you might have heard cornerback Chris Harris Jr. say that the Eagles run a college offense. That probably sounded a little salty after his team lost 51-23, but he also said the Eagles had the best offense they have seen this year. And there's nothing wrong with college concepts in the pro game. 

That's where we'll start: 

The zone-read play everyone remembers from Sunday's game was the touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery and we'll get to that one next. But this play came earlier on the same drive. 

The Eagles are in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) with Brent Celek (circled) on the left side of the line of scrimmage. Wentz is in shotgun with Jay Ajayi lined up to his left. 


 

At the mesh point, Wentz has both linebackers pushing hard toward where the run would go. Celek (still circled in red) has engaged Shaquil Barrett and is just waiting to release. 

After Celek releases his block, Barrett sees an open lane to the quarterback, so he takes it. The problem is, Wentz is going to find Celek with a nice touch pass that goes for nine yards. 

There's an art to this for Wentz. He has to sell run and then stare down a defender to deliver a touch throw. 

•••

OK, the play you'll remember. This is the one that goes for a touchdown. The Eagles are still in 11 personnel and Jeffery (circled) is on the near side of the field. Wentz is in shotgun with Ajayi to his right. The Broncos have a single-high safety. 

Here we are at the mesh point and the Eagles have allowed Von Miller to come free. In a weird way, this is one way to neutralize him on the play. A little risky but Wentz knows what he's doing. 

The single-high safety is about to drive toward the run and the corner on Jeffery, Aqib Talib, is watching closely too. 

Got them. That safety's momentum is coming forward. Miler has an open lane to Wentz but he's not going to get there in time. And, most importantly, check out Talib (circled in green near sideline). He's stuck right here and Jeffery is about to blow past him. 

None of that would have mattered without the throw. Wentz nonchalantly tosses a beautiful ball off his back foot that hits Jeffery in stride. 

•••

The last play we'll look at happened in the second quarter from the Denver 27-yard line. The Eagles are in 12 personnel (two tight ends), so the Broncos stay in their base defense. But the Eagles split out Celek and Trey Burton. Burton (circled) is on the near side of the field and is covered by Brandon Marshall, who is a good linebacker but doesn't have a chance to cover Burton 1-on-1, even with an eight-yard cushion. 

There was no question Wentz wanted to go Burton's way on this play; there was a clear mismatch. But first, he has to make sure that safety isn't able to get there. He takes care of that with the first part of this sluggo (slant-go) route from Burton. 

It wasn't a dramatic pump fake from Wentz. Heck, it wasn't even really a pump fake. It was more of a shoulder fake (you'll see the video below), but it was enough. Burton is about to break back outside toward the end zone, but that little fake slows up the safety just enough. The safety is the only player Wentz has to be worried about; he knows Burton will beat the linebacker. 

The throw from Wentz is great. It looks underthrown but it's almost a back-shoulder throw. Marshall has no chance and the safety is just arriving too late to make a play. Had Wentz not used that little pump fake, he doesn't buy that extra split-second. Burton catches the ball and falls backward into the end zone for a touchdown to put the Eagles up 24-6. 

•••

Wentz is the favorite to win MVP this season and his league-high 23 touchdown passes obviously stand out. He's been incredible through nine games. But there's so much more to him than just the stat sheet. How he picks up some of those numbers has been incredible. His ability to freeze defenders and fake them out has really been on display.