On Monday night, ESPN’s Louis Riddick will help call the Eagles-Seahawks game, which means the former Eagles’ director of pro personnel spent a good portion of last week pondering the same question a lot of us have.
What’s wrong with Carson Wentz?
“It’s a loaded question and it’s a little bit of everything,” Riddick said to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Saturday.
Riddick, who was with the Eagles from 2008-13, first pointed to all that has gone wrong around Wentz this year. The Eagles will start their 10th different offensive line in 11 games on Monday and it’s nearly impossible for any quarterback to feel comfortable around that, he said.
And Riddick also pointed out that Wentz’s weapons haven’t been consistent either. He’s playing with younger players and that hasn’t helped.
But the most concerning thing about Wentz’s play is the routine throws he’s missing and the lack of consistency in his play.
“When you kind of get to Carson himself, he just looks like a guy that right now second guesses himself as far as what he is seeing, what he is not seeing, when he feels pressure, when he’s not really getting pressure but he acts like he is getting pressure,” Riddick said. “The clean pocket throws are the thing that’s most disconcerting for me. When the pocket is clean and the protection is right and the receiver has some separation down the field and he’s still missing them.”
On the season, Wentz has completed just 58.4% of his passes for 2,326 yards with 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has a passer rating of 73.3.
None of that is good enough, especially not for a guy who is supposed to be a franchise cornerstone.
In particular, Riddick remembered a deep pass to John Hightower in the Cowboys game that encapsulated many of Wentz’s struggles this season. If Wentz leads Hightower down the middle of the field, it’s probably a touchdown. Instead, Wentz threw it outside and the pass was picked off.
At times, those special types of plays are still there. Riddick said on occasion, even this season, Wentz has made throws that only a handful of players in the league can make. But he also said players who flash get coaches and front office members fired because that level isn’t sustained.
“At some point, he’s just going to have to figure out, ‘OK, what’s inside my own psyche right now that’s messing with me and not allowing me to hit those plays,’” Riddick said. “Because everything else, he can’t control. That’s the offensive line coach’s responsibility, that’s Doug (Pederson’s) responsibility, that’s the front office’s responsibility as far as getting the weapons around him. But what he’s not controlling is the consistency of his performance, which I think really has people frustrated right now.”
Riddick’s analysis seems spot on based on what we’ve seen this year. Wentz hasn’t been able to trust the players around him and now he’s playing like he doesn’t trust himself. His pocket awareness is gone, he’s hesitant to make throws he should make.
And it’s up to Wentz to fix it because he’s not going anywhere.
So … how does he do that?
“That’s the million dollar question,” Riddick said. “That’s why coaches sometimes double as psychologists and double as counselors when it comes to getting players to get to a headspace to where they still just focus on what they can control, don’t start bringing their eyes down, looking at the rush, rushing through progressions, being blinded by what’s actually happening down the field and not being able to see that there are some situations where guys are winning; you have to get the ball to them. It’s hard to get guys out of that funk.
“At some point in time, Carson’s going to have to take it upon himself to kind of circle back to the beginning. How did I get myself here in the first place? Why was I as good as I was? And kind of resort back to that foundation.
“Most people think, well maybe you need to sit him down and let him watch for a little bit. Well, when you’re in the middle of a playoff hunt and you have a backup quarterback that is not ready to do the things that you need him to do, you have no other choice. So he’s going to have to fight his way through it. And they’re going to have to basically get him back to Square 1 as far as his confidence level goes. I don’t know if there’s some magic thing they can do for him. This is going to have to come from within him.”
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