Eagles film review: Carson Wentz reminds us of his most special skill

Eagles film review: Carson Wentz reminds us of his most special skill

For much of the summer, we watched Carson Wentz throw pass after pass from the pocket and we heard so much about the importance of letting the offense work for him. 

And then Week 1 came and we all remembered what makes Wentz so special in the first place: His ability to create with his legs while looking to throw downfield. 

That’s what makes him special. 

There are really only a few players in the world who could have made some of the plays Wentz made on Sunday against Washington the the Eagles’ Week 1 win. 

We would never put the reins on him, so to speak,” Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “That's who he is. That's in his DNA, it's in his bloodstream. He has the ability to extend plays, and we saw that come to life on Sunday.

Boy, did we ever. Let’s take a look:  

The first play we’re going to look at came in the third quarter with the Eagles down 20-7. This was the 5-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Alshon Jeffery. It comes on 3rd-and-goal in a crucial moment of the game. The Eagles need to get in the end zone here on their first drive of the second half. 

At the snap, Jeffery is lined up against a cornerback, but there’s going to be a switch and a linebacker is going to pick him up once he starts his route. That’s important to remember. 

The switch has happened and Jeffery is now going against a linebacker. But a more pressing matter is that Ryan Kerrigan is getting pressure working against Lane Johnson. Johnson does the right thing and gets his man wide, and Wentz sees and feels the pressure coming so he’s going to step up into the pocket and duck Kerrigan to buy some time. 

As Wentz steps up in the pocket and gets low to avoid Kerrigan, Dallas Goedert finds himself wide open in the end zone, but Wentz has no way to get him the ball. But even as he avoids the rush, Wentz keeps his eyes downfield and sees Jeffery getting a little step on the linebacker in coverage. 

With his entire momentum going right, Wentz is about to throw the ball across his body. Because of that momentum, he’s able to freeze the safety (who takes a step toward Zach Ertz outside) long enough to thread the needle into tight coverage. As he throws the ball, there are going to be four Redskins defenders next closest to Jeffery and the football. There’s not much room for error. 

Take a close look at how perfect Wentz needed to be with this throw across his body. Jeffery had a step on the ‘backer but it was still tight coverage. 

This isn’t just throwing across his body to a stationary receiver, this is throwing on the run, across his body, hitting his receiver in stride in a tight window. This is an elite throw and his best of the afternoon. 

The next play comes on 3rd-and-15 from the Eagles’ own 17-yard line. This is just the third play of that 19-play drive. If they don’t convert this, they’ll have to punt and give the Redskins life with plenty of time (11:21) left to play in the fourth quarter. Zach Ertz is circled at the top of the screen. 

The pocket collapses quickly. Wentz could dump this ball off to Miles Sanders in the flat, but that ain’t picking up the first down. And Ertz hasn’t even gotten to the top of his route, so Wentz is gonna buy some time. 

Wentz is now directing traffic and sees that there’s room for Ertz to get back outside to make a catch. Once Ertz makes the turn and Wentz sees him do it, he delivers a ball on the money to pick up 16 yards and a huge first down. 

This is the type of off-schedule play that only happens when QB and receiver (in this case TE) are on the same page. They have to feel this together and know what to do. Years with one another aid in plays like this and the next one: 

This last play we’ll dive into comes later in that drive, another third down. This time, it’s 3rd-and-7. The Eagles have an empty backfield with Sanders to Jeffery’s left. Jeffery is circled a the top of the screen. The Eagles need to get to the Washington 30-yard line for a first down, but you see how deep that single-high safety is playing. This is going to be a 1-on-1 for Jeffery against Josh Norman with a lot of space to work with. 

Wentz uses two pump fakes on this play. The first comes to the right side to Zach Ertz. That gets that single-high safety to take a step in that direction.

Right after this, he looks at Jeffery, pumps and signals his receiver to take off. See all the room to the outside? Wentz rolls to his left and Jeffery does the same. 

Once Wentz rolls to his left, he delivers a perfect ball across his body to Jeffery in stride. From the snap until the time the ball left his hand, Wentz bought 4.82 seconds. That’s an eternity in the NFL. 

This was a 16-yard pickup in the middle of that 19-play drive that was basically the final blow delivered to the Redskins. 

These three plays were all on third downs — 3rd-and-goal from the 5, 3rd-and-15, 3rd-and-7 — and all demonstrated Wentz’s unique ability to move out of the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield, not to mention his arm strength to actually make the passes. They also demonstrated the rapport he’s built with two targets he’s had with him for a few years now. 

Throwing from the pocket is great, but this is the stuff that makes Wentz special. 

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Eagles announce several new jersey numbers for 2020 season 

Eagles announce several new jersey numbers for 2020 season 

We have a long way to go before the start of the 2020 season but we have some jersey number updates from the Eagles. 

Most of these new numbers are for new players, but Jalen Mills is also switching out of the number he’s worn for the first four years of his career. 

Here they are in numerical order: 

Jalen Mills: 21

Mills spent the first four years of his career in No. 31. But his rookie contract is over and he’s returning as a safety in 2020. So new position, new number. 

“It’s just recreating myself,” Mills said this week. “Recreating that Green Goblin, that monster. It’s a new position, it’s a new feel, and it’s going to be new energy.”

Mills said he admires guys like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who each changed their jersey numbers throughout their NBA careers. 

The No. 21 became available after Ronald Darby left in free agency to head to Washington. Darby wore 41 back in 2017 when he arrived in a training camp trade; Patrick Robinson had the 21 on his one-year deal.

Complete Eagles history at 21: James Zyntell, Les Maynard, Paul Cuba, John Kusko, Herschel Stockton, Allison White, Chuck Cherundolo, William Boedeker, Al Pollard, Jim Carr, Joe Scarpati, Ray Jones, Jackie Allen, Wes Chesson, Al Clark, John Sciarra, Evan Cooper, Eric Allen, Bobby Taylor, Matt Ware, William James, Joselio Hanson, David Sims, Roc Carmichael, Jerome Couplin, Leodis McKelvin, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby

Darius Slay: 24 

In Detroit, Slay wore No. 30 during his rookie season back in 2013 but had the No. 23 in the next six years. But in Philly, Rodney McLeod has 23, so Slay is happily changing to 24 to honor the late Kobe Bryant.

“I’m going Kobe mode,” Slay said. “Black mamba. Rest in peace to the  One of my favorite players. I will look good in 24.”

Last season, Jordan Howard wore the No. 24 during his one-year stint with the Eagles. 

Complete Eagles history at 24: Howard Auer, Joe Carpe, Dick Lachman, Jack Knapper, Herman Bassman, Joe Pilconis, Rabbit Keen, Bill Schneller, Dom Moselle, George Taliaferro, Don Schaefer, Nate Ramsey, Artimus Parker, Henry Monroe, Zac Henderson, Ray Ellis, Russell Gary, Reggie Brown, Alan Reid, Alan Dial, Corey Barlow, Tim McTyer, Darnell Autry, Rod Smart, Blaine Bishop, Sheldon Brown, Joique Bell, Brandon Hughes, Nnadmi Asomugha, Bradley Fletcher, Ryan Mathews, Corey Graham, Jordan Howard

Will Parks: 28 

During the first four years of his NFL career, Parks wore No. 34 in Denver as a sixth-round pick. But that number is owned by Cre’Von LeBlanc in Philly. 

So Parks will hop into the No. 28 that was vacant for most of last year until Jay Ajayi was signed during the season. 

Complete Eagles history at 28: Dick Thornton, Guy Turnbow, Algy Clark, Joe Pilconis, Max Padlow, J. “Stumpy” Thomason, Harry Klopenburg, Ray Keeling, Bob Jackson, Paul Dudley, Jim Gray, Bill Bradley, Lou Rash, Greg Harding, Don Griffin, Mel Gray, Clarence Love, Amp Lee, Correll Buckhalter, Ramzee Robinson, Marlin Jackson, Dion Lewis, Earl Wolff, Wendell Smallwood, Jay Ajayi

Nickell Robey-Coleman: 31

As an undrafted player, Robey-Coleman came into the league and wore No. 37 for his first three seasons in Buffalo before he got a big-time improvement and took over 21 in 2015. For the last three seasons, he wore 23 with the Rams but that’s taken by McLeod here. 

So he’ll be in the 31 that Mills wore for the last four years. 

Complete Eagles history at 31: Joe Carter, Tom Graham, Irv Kupcinet, William Brian, Bob Masters, Emmett Mortell, Jerry Ginney, Phil Ragazzo, Jim Castiglia, Ted Williams, Art Macioszczyk, Dan Sandifer, Ebert Van Buren, Ron Goodwin, Tom Bailey, Wilbert Montgomery, Troy West, Tyrone Jones, Brian O’Neal, Derrick Witherspoon, Al Harris, Daryon Brutley, Dexter Wynn, Ellis Hobbs, Curtis Marsh, Shaun Prater, Byron Maxwell, Jalen Mills

Trevor Williams: 41

You might have forgotten the Eagles signed Williams back in January, but the cornerback and Penn State product has 39 NFL games and 27 starts to his name with the Chargers and Cardinals. 

He has previously worn 42, 24 and 22. 

Complete Eagles history at 41: Ted Schmitt, Foster Watkins, Buist Warren, Gil Steinke, Frank Ziegler, Jerry Norton, Bob Freeman, Howard Cassady, Harry Wilson, Richard Harvey, Randy Logan, Earnest Jackson, Keith Byars, Alvin Ross, Fred McCrary, Johnny Thomas, William Hampton, Thomas Tapeh, Stephen Spach, Tanard Davis, Antoine Harris, Jarrad Page, Emil Igwenagu, Randall Evans, Ronald Darby, De’Vante Bausby

Jatavis Brown: 53

Everyone pretty much understood that Nigel Bradham wasn’t going to return to the Eagles in 2020 but now they went ahead and gave his number away. Bradham wore 53 for the last four seasons in Philly. 

During his first four NFL seasons with the Chargers, Brown was No. 57 but that’s occupied in Philly by second-year linebacker T.J. Edwards. 

Complete Eagles history at 53: Walt Masters, Alex Wojciechowicz, Ken Farragut, Bob Pellegrini, John Simerson, Bob Butler, Harold Wells, Fred Whittingham, Dick Absher, Dennis Franks, Fred Smalls, Jody Schulz, Dwayne Jiles, Maurice Henry, Ivan Caesar, John Roper, Bill Romanowski, N.D. Kalu, Hugh Douglas, Mark Simoneau, Moise Fokou, Ryan Rau, Najee Goode, Nigel Bradham

Javon Hargrave: 93

Not long after news broke that Tim Jernigan was heading to Houston, Hargrave got his jersey number. 

A switch was necessary for Hargrave, who wore 79 during his first four seasons in the NFL with the Steelers. The Eagles already have a No. 79 who is pretty good in right guard Brandon Brooks. And Hargrave wore 97 in college but that number in Philly is owned by Malik Jackson. 

Complete Eagles history at 93: Tom Strauthers, John Dumbauld, Ray Phillips, David Bailey, Greg Townsend, Daniel Stubbs, Darion Conner, Pernell Davis, Levon Kirkland, Marco Coleman, Jevon Kearse, Trevor Laws, Jason Babin, Brandon Bair, Tim Jernigan

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NFL Draft Betting: Take this under on running back D'Andre Swift

NFL Draft Betting: Take this under on running back D'Andre Swift

With the 2020 NFL Draft just weeks away, now is the time to start scouting your first round bets - if you haven't already.

NBC Sports Philadelphia betting expert Brad Feinberg has identified one over/under he likes quite a bit: local product and Georgia running back D'Andre Swift's draft slot at 31.5.

Feinberg said he likes the under on Swift going before the 31st overall pick this year.

"There is a separate bet you can make, will there be a running back taken in round one of the NFL draft, where the yes is minus-300," Feinberg explained.

In this year's draft, Swift is largely considered the best running back prospect available, so Feinberg sees the likelihood of Swift earning a first-round nod as fairly high.

Plus, history is on Swift's side. 

Despite the supposed league-wide devaluation of the running back position, at least one running back has been selected in the first round in each of the last five NFL drafts, with three in 2018, and two in both 2017 and 2015.

While NFL general managers aren't eager to spend big money on running backs, but when they can be had on rookie contracts and with fresh legs, they feel like good investments.

And Swift seems to be a good first-round investment.

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