Doug Pederson details reasons for Carson Wentz's struggles

Doug Pederson details reasons for Carson Wentz's struggles

Doug Pederson blamed Carson Wentz’s shaky performance Sunday in part on the hits he absorbed behind a makeshift offensive line.

Which is probably true.

He also blamed some of Wentz’s misfires on his footwork.

Probably true, too.

He also said Wentz’s performance was “not as bad as it appears,” if you take out the turnovers.

Which is ridiculous.

Wentz threw two interceptions and fumbled three times, losing two, in the Eagles’ 17-9 loss to the Seahawks Sunday. One of the two lost fumbles, the botched handoff to Miles Sanders, wasn’t entirely his fault.

But even three turnovers, all of them ending promising drives? That’s inexcusable.

“I would love for you to stand back there and play quarterback in the National Football League and take some of the shots that these quarterbacks take,” Pederson said. “Look at the game last night. Aaron Rodgers was affected in the game because he was getting hit and knocked around off his spot. So it affects guys, and yet he’s tough, he stands in there, he makes some great throws down the field, doesn’t shy away from that contact.”

Wentz did take a beating Sunday behind an offensive line that at various points had three guys playing positions they had never previously played in the NFL — Andre Dillard at right tackle and Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Matt Pryor both at right guard.

Wentz was sacked three times and hit nine times.

It was the first time in his career he’s committed four turnovers and only the second time he’s committed three.

“Because he got hit early in the game there were a couple times that he (was) just a little erratic just being able to set (his) feet, and that comes with the extra contact,” Pederson said. “We pride ourselves with the offensive line, the backs, the tight ends to try to keep the quarterback as clean as possible. Especially early in a football game, it gets them into a flow.”

Wentz completed 33 of 45 passes for 256 yards with a TD pass to Zach Ertz with 20 seconds left.

He was 8-for-8 for 80 yards on that meaningless final drive, which make his stats look not quite as bad.

“If you remove the turnovers it’s really not as bad as it appears,” Pederson said. “The turnovers make it worse than it was. Because we didn’t capitalize, we didn’t stay on the field. We had some drives and then turnovers stopped us. Those are the things we have to clean up.”

Of course, saying Wentz played well other than the turnovers is right out of the, “How was the play other than that, Mrs. Lincoln?” school of thought.

Bottom line is Wentz was terrible and has to be better.

Wentz did bruise his hand while tackling Jefferson, but that was with six minutes left in the third quarter.

So that’s no excuse for all the ugly passes before that point.

Most glaring was the short 4th-and-Goal pass that sailed five feet over Miles Sanders’ head.

It wouldn’t have been a touchdown anyway, but it was about as bad a misfire as we’ve ever seen from Wentz.

“There are times when just a matter of setting your feet as a quarterback and delivering a short throw or getting your eyes on target a lot sooner than you do,” Pederson said. “He’s such a great thrower of the ball down the field and these are things we continue to work on with him, and we’ve got to make sure Miles is in the right spot, too. It goes both ways. It’s not always about the quarterback. We can coach that up and we will, but we’ve also got to get the other guys in the right spots as well, too.”

Through 11 games in his Pro Bowl season two years ago, Wentz had 28 TD passes, 5 INTs and a 104.0 passer rating.

Now he has 17 TDs, 6 INTs and an 89.6 passer rating.

It’s not all the receivers’ fault or the O-line’s fault or the coaches’ fault.

And Pederson did admit as much.

“We’ve got to make sure that he’s doing the right things, progression, where the ball’s going, and then it’s up to him to see the defense, see the field, and get the ball out of his hand and do all those things right,” he said. “We’ve just got to continue to work. Everything’s right in front of us.”

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Ever wonder how many Philly natives played for the Eagles?

Ever wonder how many Philly natives played for the Eagles?

When the Eagles signed Will Parks, who grew up at 2nd and Allegheny and attended since-shuttered Germantown High School, it got me wondering how many Philadelphia natives have played for the Eagles.

The answer is not many. Especially recently.

Going back to 1940, we found 14 Philly natives who played in at least one regular-season game for the Eagles.

We’re not including players from the suburbs [Vince Papale, Josh Adams, Matt Bahr] or Philly natives the Eagles drafted who never got into a game [Raheem Brock, Steve Ebbeke].

Anybody missing?

SHAREEF MILLER [2019]: You don’t have to go very far back to find the last Philly native to play for the Eagles. Miller, their 4th-round pick last year, graduated from George Washington High up in Somerton, and he did play for the Eagles last year – two special teams snaps against the Bills.

BRUCE PERRY [2005-06]: Perry, also a George Washington graduate, was the Eagles’ 7th-round pick in 2004. He played five games with the Eagles and had 16 career carries. On the last day of the 2005 season, he ran 15 times for 70 yards against the Redskins, a 4.7 average. He never had another NFL carry.

UHURU HAMITER [2001-02]: Hamiter was a defensive end who played at Mastbaum High in Kensington, leading the Panthers to the 1996 Public League championship. After playing at Delaware State, he went undrafted in 1998, but he signed with the London Monarchs of the World League and had seven sacks. The Eagles brought him into training camp that summer, and although he didn’t make the roster, he did resurface in 1999 with the Saints and played five games. He returned to Philly and played in eight games.

CHUCK WEBER [1959-61]: Weber went to Abington High, but he grew up in Philly, so we’ll keep him in the Philly section. Weber was actually the Eagles’ middle linebacker in 1960, when Chuck Bednarik played outside. Weber had six INTs in 1960, most by an Eagles linebacker until William Thomas had seven in 1995. In a 1960 game against the Cowboys at the Cotton Bowl he became the first linebacker in NFL history with three INTs in a game. He remains one of only six Eagles with three interceptions in a game and the only linebacker. Kurt Coleman is the last to do it.

EDDIE BELL [1955-58]: Bell went to West Philadelphia High and played at Penn. The Eagles drafted him in the 5th-round in 1953, and Bell, one of the first African-Americans to play in the NFL, had nine INTs in four seasons with the Eagles before spending time in the CFL and then the AFL with the New York Titans, who eventually became the Jets.

JOHN MICHELS [1953]: Not to be confused with the John Michels who was once traded for Jon Harris, this John Michels was a guard who went to West Catholic and then played at Tennessee. He was a 25th-round draft pick in 1953 and played 11 games for the Eagles.

JESS RICHARDSON [1953-61]: Richardson was from East Falls and went to Roxborough High. He was the Eagles’ 8th-round pick in 1953 as a defensive tackle out of Alabama. Ray Didinger tells me Richardson grew up blocks away from the Kelly family and was friends with Grace Kelly, who became Princess of Monaco. He played nine of his 12 NFL seasons with the Eagles, made a Pro Bowl in 1959 and started on the 1960 NFL Championship team.

WALT STICKEL [1950-51]: Stickel went to Northeast High and played at both Tulsa and Penn before the Bears drafted him in the 21st round in 1945. He finished his career with the Eagles, playing in 11 games.

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Nate Sudfeld confident in his ability to be Eagles’ backup QB

Nate Sudfeld confident in his ability to be Eagles’ backup QB

Had Nate Sudfeld not fractured his non-throwing wrist last summer, there’s a very good chance it would have been him attempting to lead the Eagles to an improbable playoff win against the Seahawks instead of 40-year-old Josh McCown after Carson Wentz suffered a concussion. 

But Sudfeld’s injury in August forced the Eagles to go out and lure McCown out of retirement. And once they did, even when Sudfeld was healthy, McCown wasn’t going to be the Eagles’ third-string quarterback. 

It was literally a bad break for Sudfeld. 

The 26-year-old quarterback didn’t technically hit free agency this year but he got close. Sudfeld at least got to test the waters of free agency during the legal tampering period before agreeing to a one-year, $2 million contract the day before the start of the new league year. 

When asked if the Eagles offered him any assurances about being the No. 2 quarterback, Sudfeld did not answer directly. But it seems like there’s a really good chance he’ll finally be Wentz’s No. 2 in 2020. 

“I don’t want to get into specifics but I’m very excited about the opportunity to come back and feel really good about coming back to Philadelphia,” Sudfeld said on a conference call this week. “Really excited to get back to work.” 

Will the Eagles bring in another veteran quarterback or draft a rookie to compete with him? It’s unclear. 

I think the NFL is obviously a meritocracy,” Sudfeld said. “As people have said before, it’s really ‘What have you done for me lately?’ What are you doing at each step? You have to keep proving yourself and you have to keep proving. 

“I definitely have a ton of confidence if I’m ever in a situation where I’m head-on-head competing with somebody. I have a lot of confidence in myself. I haven’t ever really had that opportunity so I’m looking forward to that if that comes.

The debate about whether or not Wentz is an injury-prone player has become trite at this point and it’s really not worth getting caught up in. But the fact remains that the final snaps in each of the Eagles’ last three seasons have been taken by his backup. 

Because of that, maybe it would have made sense for the Eagles to go out and grab a backup quarterback with some significant experience, sort of like what they did when they were forced to last year, signing McCown. 

Sudfeld might be great. But we just don’t know. 

Even he admits that. 

“The crazy thing about quarterback, especially, is you never really know about a guy until they’re thrown in there,” Sudfeld said. “The only way to get experience is to get experience.”

The Redskins drafted Sudfeld in the sixth-round out of Indiana back in 2016, but he left after one year to join Doug Pederson and the Eagles. At every turn, the Eagles have shown faith in him. They brought him in from Washington, they promoted him to the active roster that season to avoid losing him, they left him as the backup to Nick Foles in 2017 and 2018 after Wentz went down. And now they’ve brought him back as a free agent. 

And there’s a lot to like about Sudfeld. He’s 6-6 with a big arm and the ability to move in and out of the pocket. He’s shown his skills in practices and in the preseason. 

But in four NFL seasons, he’s thrown a total of 25 passes in the regular season. 

General manager Howie Roseman said that with the unique challenges of this offseason — we still don’t know if there will be spring practices — it was important to bring back a guy who knows the offense. Roseman said they really like him as a player too. 

With the NFL’s open negotiation period last week, Sudfeld got a chance to gauge interest from other teams and learn what they value in his game. It was a good experience, he said. But, ultimately, he felt like there was more left to do in Philly, at least for 2020. 

“Obviously, I want to be a starter someday,” Sudfeld said. “I want to play in this league. But I understand that it’s a process to get there and you have to get on the field.”

In a few months, he might be one injury away. 

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