Through eight games this season, Carson Wentz has turned the football over a staggering 16 times.
That means that Wentz has more turnovers by himself through half of the season than 29 total TEAMS in the NFL.
This can’t continue.
Wentz knows it, his coaches know it, fans know it. If the Eagles (3-4-1) have any hope of holding on to their lead in the laughable NFC East and somehow making a playoff run, their franchise quarterback needs to play better. More specifically, he has to be more cautious with the football.
“It's obviously disappointing that that's happened,” quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Press Taylor said on Tuesday. “That's something he's well aware of is not acceptable around here. It's something we're very confident that he'll be able to clean up as we go into these next eight games, the second half of the season.
“He is very aware of it. That that's not what we expect around here. That's not what we preach around here and it's something we are excited to see going forward how we play the second half of the season.”
There were still some good signs from Wentz at times in the first half of the season, but the numbers are ugly:
- Wentz has completed just 58.4% of his passes, which ranks him 32nd out of 33 qualified quarterbacks.
- His passer rating of 73.2 is the second worst in the NFL among qualified quarterbacks behind only Sam Darnold.
- Wentz leads the NFL in interceptions (12), sacks (32) and sack yards (219).
- He has the second most fumbles in the NFL with 7 (he has lost 4).
- And he has more total turnovers than the Packers, Titans and Chiefs combined.
There are a lot of things wrong with the Eagles but it starts with No. 11 coughing up the football far too often.
“The biggest issue has been our turnovers,” Taylor said. “The turnovers lead to less plays, lead to less opportunities, lead to less points and so that's really our No. 1 focus is cleaning up the turnover ratio that we've had. And again, we are really excited about where we are going to go this second half of the season and we think we are on the right track in terms of identifying that and correcting that moving forward.”
The Eagles as a team have 17 turnovers; Wentz has accounted for all but one (Miles Sanders’ fumble in Week 2 was the other).
While fumbles have been a problem for Wentz since he entered the NFL in 2016 — he has fumbled 55 times in 64 career games — the interceptions are a new problem. After he threw 14 in 16 games as a rookie, he threw just 7 in each of the last three years.
Wentz’s interception rate in the first four years of his career was 1.7% but that has ballooned 3.9% this season.
The crazy thing is that from 2016-2019 (among QBs with 40+ starts), Wentz’s INT percentage ranked sixth in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.
Among QBs with at least 200 pass attempts this year, Wentz has the second-worst INT% behind just Kirk Cousins.
It’s obviously a problem that Wentz has been turning the ball over at his current clip but the biggest reason it’s a problem is because he’s not producing enough good plays either. If Wentz threw 12 interceptions but also threw 24 touchdowns in the first half, you’d probably live with it. But 12/12 isn’t cutting it.
So the Eagles are in a situation where they need to balance Wentz’s natural aggressiveness with the need to have their quarterback not give the ball to the other team. They have failed to strike that balance through the first half of the season but Taylor on Tuesday said about Wentz, “We’re never going to take his stinger out of him.”
That jibes with what Wentz and even Doug Pederson have said before. They like Wentz’s aggressiveness but it’s about being smart.
Of Wentz’s 12 interceptions, 5 have come on 20+ yard passes and 9 of 12 have come on passes of 10+ yard passes.
“We are going to be aggressive; we're going to be bold in our approach,” Taylor said. “We're going to take our shots when we feel like the situation calls for that. But as a quarterback, nothing will ever trump ball security, and so that's something we will always talk about, whether it is we are directing him to push the ball down the field, it's an out-of-pocket decision that happens later in a down, whatever it is, ball security will always be a premium and that's something we continue to talk about.”