How much blame does Carson Wentz deserve for Eagles' struggles?

How much blame does Carson Wentz deserve for Eagles' struggles?

How's Carson Wentz playing?

It's a fascinating question with no easy answer. 

His receivers seem to drop as many passes as they catch. The offensive line hasn't played like the top-five line it was supposed to be. Doug Pederson's play-calling magic seems to have dried up at the moment. The running game has been shaky.

With a catch here and another catch there, the Eagles would be 5-2, Wentz's numbers would look much better, and nobody would be whispering about how Wentz "just doesn't look right."

But he actually doesn't look quite right. He's not playing awful, but he's not playing like the top-five quarterback the Eagles are paying him to be.

How much responsibility does Wentz take for the Eagles' offensive woes?

I take a lot of it," he said Wednesday. "There's lots of plays in these losses that I'd love to have back and I think everyone would say the same thing. There's a lot of execution, a lot of good plays that we leave out there. I know personally as a quarterback, as a leader, there's things I have to do to get better and to get this team in the right position to win these ballgames.

It's not all bad.

Wentz and Russell Wilson are the only quarterbacks to throw a touchdown in every game. Wentz's 104.3 third-down passer rating is fifth highest in the league. He's fifth in the NFL in TD passes.

He was fine in the opener against the Redskins, brilliant against the Packers, did what he had to do against the Jets.

But in the Eagles' three road losses, Wentz committed six turnovers and had as many INTs as TDs (four).

In six games without DeSean Jackson, his passer rating is a pedestrian 87.4 — 20th out of 30 quarterbacks during that span.

Wentz has had a passer rating over 100 in just one of his last six games after going over 100 in 14 of his previous 19.

The tricky thing is figuring out exactly why. 

Yeah, injuries. Yeah, play-calling. Yeah, dropped passes. Yeah, pass protection. All that is true.

But Wentz has had his share of plays where he's underthrown guys, thrown behind guys and just flat-out missed guys. He and Nelson Agholor, the Eagles' only remaining deep threat, have been unable to connect. At times, he's held onto the ball too long.

Here we are seven games into the season, and Lamar Jackson has been more accurate, Kyler Murray is throwing for more yards per game and Gardner Minshew has a better TD-to-INT ratio than Wentz.

Every week is something different," Wentz said. "There were definitely times last week that gotta get the ball out, gotta make a play, gotta do something different.

None of this was supposed to happen.

Wentz's 102.0 passer rating over the 2017 and 2018 seasons was fourth best in the NFL, behind only Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson and Wilson.

With Wentz healthy and in his fourth year in Pederson's system and with the security of a massive new contract, we were supposed to see the QB at his best.

I am pleased with where Carson is at," Pederson said. "At the same time, I would tell you there is some room for improvement.

In the big picture, Wentz remains one of the NFL's best quarterbacks.

Even including his up-and-down 2019, he still has the third-highest passer rating in football since opening day 2017, behind only Brees and Wilson (and tied with Matt Ryan).

And despite missing eight games, Wentz has the seventh-most TD passes during that span.

So when you criticize Wentz, you're criticizing a quarterback whose passer rating over the last three years is higher than Tom Brady's.

But the reality remains the Eagles are not playing up to their capabilities or expectations, and the same holds true of their quarterback.

We've all got to play better," Wentz said. "The biggest thing is execution. There's a lot of plays I want back and I want to get back. Hit some of these, obviously protect the football. Last week, that was a big one, we can't turn the ball over. But I think if we're able to just execute and do our thing, we'll be just fine. … The world isn't ending. The sky isn't falling. We have a lot of confidence in here and we're going to go out Sunday and make it happen.

It's important to note that the Eagles' last two losses have come against the NFL's No. 6 and No. 7 defenses. 

On Sunday, the Eagles travel to Orchard Park, New York, to face the Bills, who have the No. 3 defense. Then it's the Bears and their No. 4 defense and two weeks later the Patriots, with the No. 1 defense.

It's a brutal stretch. But if you're one of the best in the business, you should be up for it.

Wentz said he believes quarterbacks should ultimately be judged by their won-loss record:

Absolutely. In this league, we're striving to win every week and I think as a quarterback that is how you should be judged, for sure.

Since getting hurt in L.A. in December of 2017, Wentz is 8-10.

Among 27 quarterbacks who've started at least 16 games during that span, that .444 winning percentage puts him 16th. 

Just ahead of Baker Mayfield.

It's clear this mess isn't Wentz's fault. But it's equally clear the Eagles need him to be better.

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Learning more about Rich Scangarello’s role in Eagles’ offense

Learning more about Rich Scangarello’s role in Eagles’ offense

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s a pretty ambiguous title.

The Eagles earlier this month hired former Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello as a senior offensive assistant. But if Doug Pederson is the play-caller, Press Taylor is the passing game coordinator and Jeff Stoutland is the run game coordinator, it begs a pretty obvious question:

What the heck is Scangarello going to do?

At the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Pederson finally answered that question with at least a little bit more depth than we previously heard.

“He’s going to be able to bridge the gap,” Pederson said Tuesday. “He’s going to be able to bring together the run division and the pass division. With a blend of formations and plays and things that really tie everything together. He’s going to have his hands all over the game plan as well. A lot of communication. A lot of film study. Yeah, he’ll work with the quarterbacks, just like I do. He’ll have a chance to have some input there."

OK, so we don’t exactly know how Scangarello will fill every minute of his work days but we’re starting to get a clearer picture.

Pederson said he and Scangarello bonded over their early backgrounds in the West Coast offense but it’s Scangarello’s close ties to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that the Eagles found most intriguing. Scangarello worked under Shanahan in both Atlanta and San Francisco and the Eagles are hoping to blend some of those concepts with the offense Pederson is already running.

Namely, the Eagles are hoping this hire really helps Carson Wentz. That’s the No. 1 reason Scangarello was hired.

In addition to the time Scangarello will spend actually coaching the quarterbacks, the idea of QB movement is key. For whatever reason, the Eagles seemed hesitant to move Wentz in and out of the pocket early last season but once they did, he thrived.

That movement, throughout Wentz’s career, has always seemed to get him in a rhythm. And the Eagles are finally ready to lean into that.

“It was important for me,” Pederson said. “I think when I look back at our season and how we kind of finished the season, the thing Carson excelled at was basically those two elements. The play action, the QB movement stuff, the screens were important. And the run game ties into all that.

“This was what was intriguing with Rich, the background, what he’s learned. He studies this game now. You’ll learn when you get to speak to him. This guy has spent a lot of time studying the game. Now helping us, helping our offense. That’s why he was so intriguing to me.”

Despite finding a relatively high level of success with rookie quarterback Drew Lock in Denver, Scangarello lasted just one year as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator.

After the season, head coach Vic Fangio fired Scangarello and replaced him with Pat Shurmur. There’s plenty of smoke around the idea that Fangio and Scangarello didn’t have the strongest of working relationships.

Check out this exchange I had with Fangio on Tuesday morning:

What were some of Scangarello’s strengths?

“Rich is a good football coach. He knew the system well that he came from, does a good job with quarterbacks. I think Rich has got a bright future.”

What specifically did you like about Scangarello as a coach?

“I think for the first year in there, he did a good job. We played with three quarterbacks, so that has some stress to it. He did a good job of handling that.”

So why didn’t it work?

“That’s a long answer to a short question. I’m not going to get into that.”

See? Plenty of smoke.

Fangio did say on Tuesday that he wanted his offense to be more aggressive in 2020, so perhaps that’s another reason they elected to make a switch.

The word out of Denver is the area where Scangarello struggled was on game day, calling plays. On the flip side, he seemed to excel in preparation and game-planning. The good news for the Eagles is that Pederson is probably never going to give up play-calling responsibilities, so they won’t need Scangarello to do much on game day anyway. They’ll be able to utilize his strengths without worrying about his weaknesses.

Only Pederson really knows the logistics of how this new offensive structure will really work. It’s rare for a team to not have someone with an offensive coordinator title but it’s not unheard of. And the Eagles even thought of deviating from the norm back in 2018 when they promoted Mike Groh.

If this structure doesn’t work in 2020, that failure will belong to Pederson. But if it does work, Scangarello will be a big reason why. 

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How Andy Reid’s life has changed since winning the Super Bowl

How Andy Reid’s life has changed since winning the Super Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS — If you were expecting Andy Reid to win his first Super Bowl and turn into a different guy, you don’t know Andy Reid.

At the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Reid spoke to a huge gathering of reporters at the first big NFL event since his Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

And guess what?

Not much has changed for Big Red.

“I stay in the office, so I’m isolated a little bit that way. There’s not much change there. I’m sure the players, if you talk to them, they’re out there and being recognized as world champs. 

I have gotten a couple free meals. That was nice. But I’m not out there that much to where I’m affected by it too much.”

Gotta love when Andy plays the hits.

Reid said he and his staff enjoyed the Super Bowl for a few days. They had a parade and reveled briefly but then it was back to business as usual. The focus then had to immediately switch to free agency and the draft in what was now a suddenly short offseason.

“Maybe someday when we get a little older and we’re out of the game, you can sit back and go, hey, you know what, we did pretty good there,” Reid said. “But right now, it’s buckling down and making sure we take care of business."

During the Chiefs’ run to the Super Bowl, Reid was very aware of the support he was receiving from Philadelphia, where he spent 14 seasons as head coach. Not everyone was rooting for him but it seemed like a large portion of Philadelphians were happy to see Reid hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

On Tuesday, Reid was asked if he’s heard from folks in Philly since winning the big game.

"Yeah, I’ve talked to all those guys. I’ve stayed close to the organization,” Reid said before scanning the crowd in front of him. “Guys like Les (Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Les Bowen) I’ve stayed close with.”

Les gave a wave.

“There are a couple other guys here that are Philadelphia here,” Reid continued. “I spent 14 years there. I appreciated every bit of it. Jeff Lurie, I appreciated him being at the game and supporting me there, too."

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