Carson Wentz first said it after the win over the Bills and it definitely piqued my interest.
After the Eagles’ 31-13 win in Buffalo, Wentz stated that running the ball was the “recipe” for his team. He spoke about the importance of controlling the line of scrimmage. And he mentioned it again after the win over the Bears.
It seemed like a strange thing for a 26-year-old franchise quarterback to say.
That is, until you realize just how involved and invested Wentz is in the Eagles’ run game.
“That’s what he’s embraced, the power of the five guys in front of him and the abilities of the backs,” 40-year-old backup quarterback Josh McCown said. “When you have those weapons, you have to use them and he’s not afraid to use it.
“And his mind. His mind is a weapon. When you can identify fronts and realize this is a good run vs. that, it’s rare and it’s hard for quarterbacks. When you get a guy that can do that and you got the guys up front who can pull it off, it can be a weapon. He’s certainly helped us with that.”
That’s something very similar to what quarterbacks coach Press Taylor said earlier in the week, that Wentz’s mind is “one of the strengths” of the Eagles’ rushing attack.
You’ve probably seen it several times this year. Wentz will be at the line of scrimmage and check to a run play based on what the opposing defense is showing. But it’s a more detailed process than that.
And Wentz is heavily involved.
“Carson, since Day 1, has been very involved in the run game,” center Jason Kelce said. “Probably a little different than a lot of other quarterbacks. He really wants to know what the checks are for, why they want to do them. With some guys, I’m really the one who’s taking control of it and that’s not the way he is. He’s a guy that wants to know why we’re doing everything. He’s a very cerebral guy. He’s very knowledgeable when it comes to the run game, really any facet.”
Likewise, McCown is impressed that a “rather young” quarterback has the awareness and control over games that Wentz does.
So just know when Wentz makes a check, there’s a whole long process behind it.
Really, it starts with film study during the week as the Eagles work to create their game plans. It continues on the sideline during games, based on the actions of the opposing defense. These are conversations between Wentz, Kelce and offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland.
Sometimes, there are glaring reasons for a check. Other times, there’s a more back-and-forth discussion between the group about what might work and where there might be a flaw in their thinking.
Wentz, as you might imagine, downplayed his involvement in the run game. “Not a ton,” he said, before crediting Stoutland and Kelce.
Don’t buy it.
“He’s involved in all of it,” Kelce said.
It’s not like Wentz is Peyton Manning up there with the full playbook at his disposal. There are “tight parameters,” as Taylor put it. If the defense shows this, check to that. But with all their prep work, the Eagles feel confident that Wentz and Kelce will get them into successful plays.
Recently, that has meant a whole bunch of runs. With their receivers struggling this season and with DeSean Jackson out, the Eagles have kind of become a run-first team. While Wentz thinks chunk pass plays will come, he also thinks the Eagles can win like this.
And that’s all he cares about.
“I think he wants to win,” Taylor said. “So I think he will do whatever it takes for us to win the game.”
For now, that means running the football. And Wentz will be involved every step of the way.
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