He says he’s the same guy.
The eye test begs to differ.
So do the facts.
It’ll be a year Tuesday since Carson Wentz tore up his knee in L.A., and while it’s clear that he’s had a very good year following a 9 ½-month rehab, it’s becoming just as clear that he’s not the same guy he was before.
Nine games into his comeback, Wentz is not using his legs like he did before he got hurt, and it’s eliminated a real dimension of production and unpredictability in the Eagles’ offense.
• A year ago, Wentz had 14 scrambles of 10 yards or more. This year he has two.
• A year ago, Wentz averaged 5.9 yards per carry (after eliminating kneel-downs). This year that figure is down more than a yard per run to 4.7 this year.
• A year ago, Wentz ran for 28 first downs. This year that figure is down to nine.
There are other factors involved in sacks — the offensive line has been banged up and certainly hasn’t played as well as last year — but Wentz this year has been sacked once every 11.4 drop-backs after once every 16 drop-backs last year.
His lack of elusiveness in the pocket is at least one of the reasons why.
Wentz’s ability to take off in the pocket, elude defenders and extend plays was one of the biggest reasons for his success last year.
It wasn’t so much that he ran for a ton of yards, but he was brilliant at escaping trouble, making plays on the move and keeping plays going when protection broke down.
His ability to move around made him unpredictable and kept defenses off balance.
Wentz acknowledged that he’s used his legs less than last year, but he doesn’t think it has anything to do with his ACL surgery.
Probably last year I used (his legs) more. I don’t think it’s injury related, it’s just kind of the way the plays in the games have been this year.
But the numbers are pretty overwhelming. And so is the eye test.
Wentz just looks slower.
The good news is the differences we’re seeing in Wentz most likely aren’t permanent.
And think about this: The original prognosis for Wentz’s return was nine to 12 months, and he’s not even 12 months out from the surgery.
What he’s doing really is remarkable, playing football at a high level just 11 ½ months after surgery to repair a torn ACL, a partially torn IT band and meniscus damage.
Wentz was asked this week if he needs to use his legs more, and he said scrambling doesn’t work that way:
I never want to say I want to do more. I never want to force the issue, because then bad things can happen. It’s really just case by case and the way teams are playing, the way teams are rushing. I never go looking for it, but I realize there are a lot of big plays to be made when you can extend the play outside the pocket.
It’s just that so far we haven’t seen very many of them.
There are a lot of reasons the Eagles’ offense has been only a shell of last year.
Points are down (25.6 to 20.9), third-down is down (42 percent to 39 percent), red zone is down (TDs on 71 percent of red-zone drives last year, 55 percent this year).
Because of all that, the Eagles are one of just three NFL teams to score 27 points just once. The others are the Redskins, who come to the Linc Monday night, and the Cards.
Really, what Wentz is doing is remarkable considering everything.
Safe to say he’s not who he was last year. But equally safe to say that with another offseason of preparing and strengthening and rehabbing and recovering he will be again.
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