Eagles

In career day, Carson Wentz's 3rd-down mastery continues in Eagles' win over Cardinals

In career day, Carson Wentz's 3rd-down mastery continues in Eagles' win over Cardinals

Here's all you need to know about how far Carson Wentz has come:
 
He had three touchdown passes all last year on third down. And he had three Sunday against the Cards.
 
Wentz continued his 2017 third-down mastery Sunday in the Eagles' blowout win over the Cards, going 11 for 12 on third down with nine conversions and throwing for 255 yards and three TD passes.
 
Just on third down.
 
In all, it was a career day for Wentz, who completed 70 percent of his passes and threw for 303 yards with four touchdowns in the Eagles' 34-7 win over the Cardinals at the Linc (see breakdown).

"Situational football is huge, that's what separates the good teams," Wentz said. "Being effective on third down, staying on the field, it helps time of possession, it helps the defense, it's a big part of the game. They call it the money down, and to be that efficient on third down is huge."

Among his Eagles' third-down conversions were two 3rd-and-11s and a 3rd-and-19.
 
Wentz threw an 11-yard TD to Zach Ertz on a 3rd-and-6 in the first quarter, a 59-yard TD to Torrey Smith on a 3rd-and-5 in the first quarter, a 72-yard touchdown to Nelson Agholor on a 3rd-and-19 in the third quarter (see Roob's 10 observations).
 
He's the first Eagles QB to throw three TDs on third down in nine years, since Donovan McNabb — who spent some time with Wentz in the locker room after the game — threw TDs to Jason Avant, Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson, also against the Cards, at the Linc on Thanksgiving Day 2008.
 
"It's just guys playing on time, playing in rhythm, and it's something we take pride in," Wentz said. "We put so much extra time into it both in practice and then in the film and meeting rooms as well. I think we're seeing it paying dividends on Sundays."
 
Wentz vowed to get better on third down.

And five games into the season, he's the best in the league.

"This is one of the things that we talk about all spring and summer with him, was the third downs and emphasizing the third downs," Doug Pederson said. "I think the personnel that we have on offense helps that. I think the offensive line protection in some of those areas helps that.
 
"Then, listen, it's a credit to the guys down the field. There were some big plays made today that we expect. We don't want to be in those 3rd-and-long situations, but we do expect to execute that way and hopefully stay on the field."
 
Ertz caught four of Wentz's third-down throws and Agholor caught three, but five different receivers caught at least one, including Marcus Johnson, who converted a 3rd-and-1 with his first career reception.
 
When you're converting clutch third downs with an undrafted free agent who spent last year on the practice squad and had played 23 career snaps on offense before Sunday, you know you have something good going (see rookie report).
 
"Carson's playing at an extremely high level on that (third) down," Ertz said. "He understands the blitzes, he understands where to attack with the ball. We've been really efficient in that regard, and we're real happy with it.
 
"We're understanding where the chains are, we're understanding the down and distances, our O-line is playing great, so we're able to have deeper routes on those plays instead of just check-downs. So we're attacking the defense on those downs and we're not taking them as a disadvantage for us."
 
Let's compare Wentz on third down last year with this year.
 
You won't believe the difference.
 
Last year, he completed 56 percent of his passes on third down with 60 conversions, three touchdowns, five interceptions and a 67.0 passer rating that ranked him 28th of 30 qualifying quarterbacks.
 
This year? Including Sunday, he's hitting on 71 percent of his passes on third down with six TDs, one interception, 30 conversions and a 137.8 passer rating.
 
He will likely be the top-ranked third-down passer in the NFL on Monday morning.
 
Overall, Wentz is now hitting on 62 percent of his passes and throwing for 272 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His passer rating is up to 97.7 (see report card).
 
"He played amazing today," Ertz said. "Obviously, there's plays everyone wants back, but four touchdowns to four different guys is a huge stepping stone.
 
"He's the face of the franchise. As he goes, we go. And the most impressive part is that he's so even keel through the highs and the lows.
 
"We love playing for him. Our offense played at an extremely high level — against a team that's had our number the past couple years and has a really good defense."
 
What about Wentz's only incomplete pass on third down?
 
It came on a 3rd-and-5 early in the third quarter. He had Ertz open but just missed him.
 
"He said he wanted to find a hole and go bury himself in it," Ertz said with a laugh. "But it happens to everybody. Nobody's perfect. I had a drop against the Giants, so we're even now."

Saints 48, Eagles 7: An embarrassing effort in the Superdome

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USA Today Images

Saints 48, Eagles 7: An embarrassing effort in the Superdome

BOX SCORE 

NEW ORLEANS — They were outgained by nearly 400 yards. They were outscored by 41 points. They were humiliated and embarrassed in a way that a defending Super Bowl champion never should be.

This looked like the last days of the Chip Kelly Era.

It was that bad.

In a game that makes you question just about everything about the franchise just three months after Super Bowl LII, the Eagles lost 48-7 to the Saints Sunday at the Superdome.

Hang on, here we go.

1. How is it possible to be this unprepared week after week after week after week after week? The first quarter has been a horror show for the Eagles all year, but this was their worst. Outgained 190-15? I don’t know if the offense was worse or the defense was worse. I do know this is all on Doug Pederson and his staff. The Eagles were facing a crucial game against an elite team, and they came out with zero fire, zero intensity, zero urgency. How do you not have your team prepared? How do you not have your team ready? How do you come out every freaking week looking utterly lost on both sides of the ball? Embarrassing. Pitiful. Inexcusable. The Eagles have been blanked in eight of their 10 first quarters so far. They haven’t scored a first-quarter point since the Giants game, for crying out loud. Against a bad team, maybe you can dig out of a hole like that. Against the Saints? In their own building? Come on.

2. The Eagles are now 4-6 and have lost five of their last seven games, and it’s time to start thinking about peoples’ jobs. Doug isn’t going anywhere. He won the Super Bowl last year. He’s been terrible, but he gets at least next year and probably 2020. When you win a Super Bowl you earn some time to figure the thing out. Jim Schwartz? He’s not going anywhere, either. The Eagles went into Sunday sixth in the NFL in scoring defense, and considering all the injuries and considering the job he did last year, I just don’t see it. Now Mike Groh? I’m starting to wonder. The Eagles’ inability to score points has reached epic proportions, and Groh just seems overmatched. When you watch the Colts piling up points under Frank Reich you can’t help think that the offense lost its heart when the Eagles lost Reich. The Colts are averaging 36 points in their last five games. The Eagles have scored more than 24 once all year. Groh deserves the rest of the season, but this offense is legit terrible right now, and it shouldn’t be.

3. As for Carson Wentz, the first sign that it wasn’t his day was when he threw that ill-advised bomb into double coverage late in the first quarter. It was still just 10-0. Things weren’t going well, but it reeked of desperation or panic. You can’t just heave the ball up for grabs. Carson keeps showing this inclination of trying to do too much early on, trying to be Superman, instead of taking what’s there. Wentz has 25 career interceptions and 11 of them — nearly half — have been in the first quarter. He needs to find a way to stay within himself early on. You’re just giving away a possession against the sixth-highest-scoring offense in NFL history. And of course the Saints took the ball and drove down the field for a 17-0 lead. It keeps happening and it has to stop.

4. I feel like Wentz should be beyond a game like this three-interception monstrosity. Especially against the NFL’s 31st-ranked pass defense. For the first time in two years he was just terrible. He’s in his third year. His numbers have been really good, but the team is 4-6 and the offense looks lifeless. He sure isn’t the biggest problem on this team, but there are times an elite quarterback needs to raise his team up and Wentz hasn’t done that. And remember, Donovan McNabb got to the NFC Championship Game his third year.

5. Everybody is going to focus on the Eagles’ cornerbacks struggling Sunday, and that’s fair. But don’t let the defensive line off the hook. They’re supposed to be the heart and soul of the defense. They’re certainly the highest-paid unit on the team. The corners are a bunch of young inexperienced kids who’ve barely played any NFL football and let’s face it you probably haven’t heard of most of the guys who were out there by the end of the game. The pass rushers are Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Michael Bennett, and they are all big-name, high-paid veteran guys, and they never came close to Drew Brees. You’ve got Cre’Von LeBlanc, De’Vante Bausby and Chandon Sullivan in coverage against one of the hottest QBs in NFL history. By the end of the game, the Eagles didn’t even have a cornerback available who was on the roster three weeks ago. Without pressure, even the best corners in the league don’t stand a chance against Brees. These guys? Come on.

6. Two games in and Golden Tate has six catches for 58 yards. If anything, it seems like the offense has less rhythm than before he got here. Yeah, the Eagles will get compensation if they lose him, but this is not what they had in mind when they gave up a third-round pick for the veteran receiver. He hasn’t been a difference maker. It’s only two games, but you knew you were only getting him for eight games and a playoff run. So much for that.

7. It’s probably not a good sign when your punter has your best tackle of the game.

8. If you’re looking for a positive, let’s talk Josh Adams. Kid looks like a player. Had 7-for-43 rushing with a 28-yard TD before Doug abandoned the running game and even caught a few short passes for 19 yards. He’s now 34-for-197 this year, which is 5.8 yards a pop. That’s all I got.

9. This was the first time I’ve ever thought to myself, “I wonder if Doug should get Nick in there.” Honestly, I would have been fine with it. When things are this bad? Andy benched Donovan for Kevin Kolb at halftime of that Ravens game in 2008 — 10 years ago this week — then went right back to Donovan the next week, and the Eagles got to the NFC Championship Game. Maybe getting Carson out of there for a few drives and letting him catch his breath and see things from a different perspective would have helped.

10. Let’s close with this. There are five games left. The next two are at the Linc, where the Eagles have lost three straight. I don’t care who’s in uniform. I don’t care who the opponent is. I don’t care what’s at stake. I don’t care how many practice squad dudes are in the secondary. All I want to see is this football team play with some pride. Play like it means something to wear that Eagles uniform. Everybody on the roster should be embarrassed right now. Go do something about it.

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Eagles at Saints live: Score, highlights, analysis from NFL Week 11 game

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Eagles at Saints live: Score, highlights, analysis from NFL Week 11 game

7:18 p.m.: So here’s the deal, guys. There’s only one elevator to get down to the locker room, so I’m going now. Forgive me for not live-blogging the rest of this. 

7:14 p.m.: Huge stop from the Eagles’ defense. They hold the Saints to a 19-yard field goal. 

Saints 245, Eagles 7

6:54 p.m.: The Eagles have given up 517 yards and 45 points. This is just the seventh time in franchise history that has happened. 

Saints 45, Eagles 7 

6:35 p.m.: Hmm. I’m running out of things to say. 

The 38 points the Eagles have already given up is a high under Jim Schwartz. They’ve given up 430 yards and 38 points and there’s still 20 minutes left. 

Saints 38, Eagles 7 

6:16 p.m.: The Saints are marching up and down the field on the Eagles. This is a horrendous performance. This time, another 70-yard touchdown drive from the Saints. Ho hum. 

Drew Brees hit Michael Thomas for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Thomas easily beat Rasul Douglas and Corey Graham was late with the help. 

There’s still somehow over 26 minutes left to go in this game. 

Saints 31, Eagles 7 

5:56 p.m.: This is ugly. At halftime, the Eagles are getting blown out. 

The Saints have 321 total yards and the Eagles have just 109. This is a beating. The Eagles had life for a minute, but then blew it. 

The 24 points the Eagles gave up is the most they have given up in a first half under Jim Schwartz. 

At halftime: Saints 24, Eagles 7 

5:51 p.m.: Never mind. Forget the life the Eagles looked like they had. The Eagles were driving with a chance to cut the lead to three points, but Carson Wentz was sacked for a loss of 10 on 3rd-and-3 from the Saints’ 46-yard line. It was a slow-developing play action pass. Sheldon Rankins came free and sacked Wentz. Then the Eagles punted the ball away. If Wentz didn’t take that sack, the running into the kicker penalty on the Saints would have given the Eagles a first down. 

Instead, the Saints got the ball back and easily moved down the field to score another touchdown. 

Saints 24, Eagles 7 

5:25 p.m.: Hey! The Eagles have some life. Apparently, they just had to wait to get out of that dreaded first quarter. Carson Wentz led them on a 75-yard drive early in the second quarter to get on the board in just six plays. Josh Adams had a big 28-yard touchdown run. It was the first touchdown of his career. There's just under 9 minutes left in the half. 

Saints 17, Eagles 7 

5:09 p.m.: That quarter didn’t go well for the Eagles. The Saints had 190 yards. The Eagles had 15. Yikes. At least it’s only a two-score game for now. 

Saints 10, Eagles 0 

5:04 p.m.: The Eagles didn’t go 3-and-out, but Carson Wentz did under throw a deep ball into double coverage to Nelson Agholor that was intercepted. Things aren’t going well. It seemed like Wentz was just trying to make something happen, but it was a bad idea. 

4:57 p.m.: The Saints are up two scores now after driving 86 yards and punching in the game’s first touchdown. The big play of the drive was a 30-yard pass to Michael Thomas. Sidney Jones was in coverage and has had a couple rough plays so far. There’s 3:12 left in the first quarter. 

To add injury to insult, Avonte Maddox got hurt and had to leave the game. 

Saints 10, Eagles 0 

4:42 p.m.: Two Eagles’ drive. Two 3-and-outs. This offense is broken. They have just 15 yards on six plays and haven’t gotten a first down yet. Against this Saints team, they’re going to need to score some points. 

4:36 p.m.: The Saints took a 3-0 lead on a 38-yard field goal that capped a 57-yard drive. The Eagles gave up a 38-yard run from Mark Ingram on the first play, but rebounded to get a big stop. Malcolm Jenkins made a big tackle on third down. 

Saints 3, Eagles 0 

4:29 p.m.: The Eagles went 3-and-out on their first possession. They nearly got a first down on 3rd-and-long but didn’t. 

4:18 p.m.: There were a lot of Eagles fans around town, but Saints fans are going to drown them out. This place is so loud. It’s not going to be a home on the road for the Eagles this week.  

3:50 p.m.: The Cowboys got a 42-yard field goal at the buzzer to take down the Atlanta Falcons and move to 5-5 on the season. That means the Eagles need to win today to keep pace. 

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, they’re getting ready to face this guy. 

2:59 p.m.: Eagles inactive are out: 

2:29 p.m.: Washington was about to take a lead at the end of the half, but Alex Smith threw a 101-yard pick-6 and the Texans extended their lead. It’s 17-7 at halftime. In Atlanta, the Falcons are clinging to a 6-3 lead over the Cowboys. 

1:40 p.m.: Keep an eye on the game in Washington. The Texans have a 10-0 lead after one quarter. The Eagles can use all the help they can get in the NFC East. 

1:15 p.m.: After about a half hour of trying to figure out how to get in the Superdome and then how to get up to the press box, I have finally arrived. This is my first trip to the Superdome. First impressions, it’s kind of a dump, but also kinda cool. I’m looking forward to seeing how loud this place gets in a few hours. 

10:53 a.m.: Good morning, everyone. It’s game day! And it’s a big one for the Eagles. I’m getting ready to walk to the Superdome from my hotel and we’ll follow this entire game day together. 

For what it’s worth, I was out about town last night and saw a ton of Eagles fans. Another big showing from Eagles fans in another city. We’ve seen that on every trip this year. I think it was a perfect storm for it. The Eagles are coming off a Super Bowl and have a tremendous road schedule. A lot of good options for fans and they’re making the most of these trips. 

Be sure to watch Eagles Pregame Live at 3 p.m. and tune in after the game for our complete breakdown on Eagles Postgame Live.