This offseason the Eagles overhauled their offensive coaching staff and one of the main reasons they gave was that they wanted to utilize Carson Wentz’s strengths.
When they went back and watched Wentz’s body of work, they realized their franchise quarterback was at his best when he gets on the move and has an opportunity to throw from out of the pocket.
They brought in Rich Scangarello in an attempt to highlight that strength.
“[Wentz is] great at play action, he’s great at movement, getting him out of the pocket where he can see and do some things with his legs,” Pederson said to the team’s podcast in February. “That’s where he excels. We’ve got to start with that."
And that was a conclusion that wasn’t very hard to make.
But they didn’t start with that, at least not in Week 1.
In the loss to Washington, for the most part, the Eagles kept Wentz in the pocket. Even when they could have used something to give them a spark in the second half, he remained stationary and was sacked eight times.
On Wednesday, Pederson said the reason they didn’t roll Wentz out more against Washington was because of their struggles on first down.
“I would love to have Carson out of the pocket more,” Pederson said. “He is dynamic outside of the pocket, great vision and all that. But again, we've got to do a better job on first down in order for a lot of those plays to take place."
After two days of waiting, I finally got to ask Pederson the question that had been in all of our minds.
Can’t you roll him out on first downs?
“That’s a great question,” Pederson said. “Yes.”
So … why didn’t you?
“We hit Dallas, like, fourth play of the game down to the 5-yard line, play action pass,” he said. “I guess looking back on it, you can always second-guess yourself, I guess. Something I gotta do a better job at I guess. Be more conscious of it.”
Here’s the play Pederson mentioned. It was a pass to Goedert in the first quarter. The next play was the touchdown to Ertz.
But this actually kind of makes my point for me. If it worked, why didn’t the Eagles stick with it?
I think there is some validity to Pederson’s original answer about the struggles on first down. In general, the offense was just out of sorts in Week 1 and it probably wrecked their game plan. And it’s not like simply rolling their quarterback out of the pocket is a cure-all.
But it might have helped. After all, it’s an area where we’ve seen the quarterback excel.
Because of that, Pederson has to be committed to getting Wentz on the move. He knows it too.