Eagles

Plenty of very good quarterbacks began their careers like Carson Wentz

Plenty of very good quarterbacks began their careers like Carson Wentz

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has taken a step back in 2019. There are valid explanations for his performance, but that much is indisputable. 

On the bright side, Wentz’s down year isn’t necessarily indicative of long-term regression. There are plenty of examples of good and great NFL quarterbacks — Super Bowl champion quarterbacks — who followed breakout seasons with a less than stellar campaign. 

Quarterbacks like Russell Wilson. Ben Roethlisberger. Matt Stafford. Dak Prescott. Nick Foles. 

To name a few. In fact, closely examining the career of most any signal caller — yes, even the GOAT, Tom Brady — reveals development is rarely a straight arrow pointing directly north. 

Young quarterbacks struggle, sometimes after it looked like they had the game figured out. Maybe it’s due to the lack of strong supporting cast, or an injury, or coaching changes. Maybe the league honed in on certain tendencies and continued evolution is required. Maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever the case, none of this is uncommon. 

And make no mistake, Wentz is a young quarterback. He’s in his fourth season with just over 50 starts under his belt. By comparison, Wilson is in his eighth year with more than double the number of starts. Brady is in his 20th season with five times as many starts. 

Granted, just because Hall of Fame-caliber quarterbacks rebounded from a subpar season doesn’t guarantee Wentz will do the same. But as long as you’re not of the belief that 2017 Wentz was a total aberration, looking at his peers’ career trajectories might put your mind at ease. 

(Regarding Wentz’s 2018 season, though it’s not remembered fondly, the numbers actually showed improvement in some key metrics — specifically completion percentage and yards per attempt — while he was recovering from a torn ACL and playing with a broken back. It was certainly far better than the year he’s having now.) 

Take Wilson for example. Early on, the Seahawk posted modest numbers in a run-first offense. Then in 2015, his fourth year, his completion percentage shot to 68.1 and he eclipsed 4,000 yards passing for the first time with 34 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. 

The following season, 2016, Wilson’s completion percentage dipped more than three points and his yards per attempt by over a half-yard while throwing 21 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. His 92.6 passer rating was a career-worst, though Seattle still managed to win 10 games. 

Again, you will find these statistical drop-offs with just about anybody. 

In 2007, Roethlisberger’s fourth season, the Steeler completed 65.3 percent for 7.8 yards per attempt with 32 touchdowns, 11 interceptions. In 2008, Big Ben hit 59.9 percent and 7.0 yards per attempt — career lows — with 17 touchdowns, 15 picks. 

In 2011, Stafford’s third season, the Lion completed 63.5 percent with a 7.6 average and 41 touchdowns, winning 10 games in the process. In 2012, Stafford went 4-12 while completing 59.8 percent for 6.8 a pop with 20 scores. 

As a rookie in 2016, Prescott completed 67.8 percent for 8.0 yards per attempt with only 4 interceptions, not to mention he won 13 games. In ’17, the Cowboy was 62.9 percent, a 6.8 average, 13 interceptions and 9-7. 

Yes, you can do this with Brady — to an extent. His fifth season as starter, the Patriot completed 63.0 percent with a 7.8 average. A year later, he was 61.8 percent, 6.8 yards — lows he would only approach one other time prior to this season at age 42. 

And let’s not forget how so many Eagles fans insisted on running Foles out of town after his 2014 campaign didn’t come close to living up to his famed 27-2 touchdown-interception ratio a year earlier. We know how that played out. 

Look at any NFL quarterback. Past. Present. Hall of Famer. Decent starter. 

There are ups. There are downs. The inconsistencies are present early in careers especially. 

Will Wentz recover to a level that matches the contract extension he signed with the Eagles? Will he live up to fans’ expectations? Maybe not. Nobody knows. 

Whatever you thought of Wentz though, his performance this season alone shouldn’t rattle your confidence. Not seeing who he’s had to throw the ball to. Not with a defense that cost the Eagles some games. Not with a coaching staff likely headed for shake-up in the offseason. 

Nothing about Wentz’s future is certain. His 2019 season doesn’t need to define him, either.

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Snubbed Eagle Lane Johnson added to Pro Bowl team as alternate

Snubbed Eagle Lane Johnson added to Pro Bowl team as alternate

Lane Johnson is a Pro Bowler after all.

Johnson, snubbed in the original Pro Bowl announcement, has been added to the NFC Pro Bowl team as an alternate, according to Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio.

This is Johnson’s third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. There was no word on which offensive lineman dropped out of the game.

It was a little surprising that Johnson didn't make the team initially. He's considered one of the NFL's most dominating right tackles and was a first-team all-pro in 2017.

He didn't seem thrilled when the original team was announced a month ago:

Johnson missed the last three games of the regular season and the playoff loss to the Seahawks with a high ankle sprain, and it’s unknown whether he’ll be able to play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Orlando.

But for the purposes of bonuses and status, he’s now officially a three-time Pro Bowler.

Johnson becomes the seventh offensive lineman in Eagles history selected to three or more Pro Bowls.

Jason Peters was picked to seven between the 2009 and 2016 seasons. Tra Thomas, Bob Brown, Bucko Kilroy, Jason Kelce, Jim Ringo and Brandon Brooks have all been picked to three.

The 29-year-old Johnson becomes the Eagles’ sixth Pro Bowler, joining Brooks, Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz and Rick Lovato.

Johnson, the fourth pick in the 2013 draft, recently signed a contract extension that runs through 2025.

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Jim Caldwell out as Dolphins QBs coach, possible OC candidate for Eagles

Jim Caldwell out as Dolphins QBs coach, possible OC candidate for Eagles

On Monday night, the Dolphins announced their 2020 coaching staff and there was a notable omission.

No Jim Caldwell.

So now the 65-year-old former head coach, OC and quarterbacks coach has plenty of free time if the Eagles want to interview him for their offensive coordinator opening (if they haven’t already).

According to ESPN, Caldwell is interested in coaching after missing the 2019 season for health reasons.

Shortly after the Eagles fired Mike Groh earlier this month, ESPN’s Tim McManus mentioned Caldwell and Kevin O’Connell as candidates. O’Connell has since joined the Los Angeles Rams as their offensive coordinator, a position that is somewhat like the one in Philly because the head coach is the primary play-caller.

Earlier on Monday, we learned that USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, who interviewed with the Eagles, is expected to return to Southern California for next season. So cross him off the list.

Caldwell is an intriguing name because of his history with quarterbacks. It would make sense for the next offensive coordinator to be someone who could have a positive influence on Carson Wentz as he enters what should be the prime of his career.

While candidates like Harrell and Chiefs offensive coordinator Mike Kafka are fast-risers in the coaching world, Caldwell has been coaching longer they’ve been alive. He has an impressive resume.

Caldwell has been an NFL head coach twice (Colts and Lions) and was the quarterbacks coach with the Colts from 2002-08. Peyton Manning went to nine straight Pro Bowls with Caldwell coaching him.

The Eagles are taking their time choosing a coach but their brass is in Mobile, Alabama, this week for the Senior Bowl and that can often be an opportunity to meet with several coaches within a few days. It would make plenty of sense if Caldwell is on their list; and now his schedule should be wide open.

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