Will Carson Wentz still take off and run? 'If I don't need to, why would I?'

Will Carson Wentz still take off and run? 'If I don't need to, why would I?'

One thing you just don't see at Eagles practice is Carson Wentz leaving the pocket.

You rarely see him rolling out and throwing on the run, you rarely see called bootlegs or moving pockets, you rarely see him take off when the play breaks down.

Now, some of that is simply the product of a controlled environment at training camp. As long as Wentz wears the red jersey, he can’t be hit, so there's no reason to take off and escape pressure.

But listening to Wentz speak Tuesday, it’s more than that.

Wentz, now in his fourth year with the Eagles, said that as he grows in the offense, as he develops a faster ability to process what he sees, there's less and less reason to take off.

I think it kind of goes back to playing fast and just seeing and making quick decisions and just going through my reads quicker. Maybe it’s being another year in the system and always knowing where my checkdown is, where my hots are, different things like that. That part of my game is definitely not gone, it’s still going to be there, but if I don’t need to, why would I get out of the pocket when the O-line is holding up and I can find guys to get the ball to?

It’s fascinating to hear Wentz talk this way because he’s been so effective his first three years — especially in 2017 — making plays on the run, using his athleticism as a weapon.

But it also puts him at risk, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned the last two years, it’s that the Eagles really don’t need Carson Wentz to be at risk.

Doug Pederson spoke Tuesday about how fast Wentz is operating mentally now that he’s in Year 4 and how his ability to process defensive looks and make rapid-fire decisions can only make him more effective as a passer.

He’s getting to his reads faster, it’s part of the progression of him and his growth as a young quarterback right now. He’s getting to the line of scrimmage, he’s seeing things fast, he’s redirecting protection, going through progressions, ball’s coming out of his hand quicker … and those are things that we’ve seen through the spring and through this part of camp.

It’s a tricky balance.

Wentz can be so dangerous when the play breaks down and he leaves the pocket, but he’s also a lot safer when he’s working behind an offensive line stocked with All-Pros.

He said Tuesday it hadn’t occurred to him until he was asked about it that he’s done most of his work this summer in the pocket. But it makes sense.

We’ve seen it with so many other athletic quarterbacks, from Randall Cunningham to Donovan McNabb to Russell Wilson. 

As they get older and develop a deeper grasp of the offense, they can be just as dangerous picking apart a defense in the pocket as they can making things up out of the pocket.

I think every year from a mental standpoint, I’ve just taken a leap,” Wentz said. “You see the game faster, you’re reading and reacting quicker.

Wentz has run the ball 144 times in 40 games, but 31 of those were kneel-downs, so he’s actually running about three times a game. But the number of times he leaves the pocket has probably been double that.

Don’t worry. Wentz promises if there’s a play to be made outside the pocket?

He won't hesitate to go.

I feel good going just through my reads and finding a completion and moving on. But when I need to make a guy miss in the pocket? When I need to get out and make a play? That’s still definitely going to be a part of my game.

It’s all part of Wentz’s growth as a quarterback. The less time the ball spends in his hands, the safer he’ll be.

And keeping him safe and healthy is the most important thing facing the franchise this year and for the next several years.

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Eagle Eye podcast: The biggest news from the combine

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Eagle Eye podcast: The biggest news from the combine

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank is joined by Dave Zangaro from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to go over the biggest storylines of the day. 

Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Tuesday about a wide range of topics. 

Will Jason Peters return? Have the Eagles changed their free agent philosophy? And what will the coaching staff really look like in 2020? 

• One more year of Jason Peters? 
• Eagles might change free agency approach
• More details about the coaching structure
• The rise of Press Taylor 
• What will Rich Scangarello do?  
• Breaking down Duce Staley’s role in the organization 

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Eagles leave open possibility that Jason Peters returns in 2020

Eagles leave open possibility that Jason Peters returns in 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — Jason Peters is 38 years old, will become a free agent in less than a month and the Eagles already drafted his replacement in the first round a little less than a year ago.

This seems pretty simple, right?

Yet, as Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Tuesday at the NFL’s Scouting Combine, neither man was ready to say the team is moving on.

“I think as it pertains to all of our free agents, it’s important that we keep an open mind with everyone and try to figure out as we get more information,” Roseman said.

“A big part of this week is accumulating information. That’s what we do here. Obviously, when you’re talking about Jason Peters, you’re talking about a Hall of Fame player, a Hall of Fame person, someone that’s very special to us and played at a really high level last year. We’ll go through all those decisions this week.”

Pederson gave less of a politician answer.

“Heck yeah,” Pederson said when asked if he wants Peters back next season.

So that leads us to this: Is there really a chance the Eagles would re-sign a 38-year-old left tackle instead of playing a first-round pick they traded up to get less than a year ago?

It seems crazy.

Coming into Tuesday, I thought there was a chance Roseman would get to the podium and use the forum as a chance to make a statement about Peters. I thought, maybe, he would get up there and tell us all that the Eagles were planning to let Peters hit the free agent market, thank him for his time and give a vote of confidence to Andre Dillard as the left tackle of the future.

That didn’t happen.

In fact, Roseman and Pederson actually invited more speculation and I walked away thinking there’s actually a chance they try to bring back Peters for next season, even though it sounds pretty crazy.

Maybe they just haven’t talked to Peters yet. That’s possible. In a case like this, if the Eagles want to move on, they wouldn’t want to do anything to disrespect a guy who has been here a decade and will likely end up in Canton. Even Roseman admitted that it’s important to treat guys of this magnitude a little differently.

“There’s no question,” Roseman said. “When you talk about guys who are historic players in the National Football League, guys who are going into the Hall of Fame, guys who are going into the Eagles Hall of Fame, those guys are special people and special players and you don’t have a lot of those during the course of your career.

“So you try to make decisions first that are best for the football team and at the same time have respect and appreciation for what guys have done and what guys have done going forward and have been a part of your organization for a long time.”

Peters played the 2019 season on a renegotiated one-year deal that he signed in March. And while Peters didn’t play at an All Pro level last year, he was still pretty good.

But throughout last season, it seemed like the Eagles were going to let Peters play and groom Dillard. And, sure, Dillard struggled at right tackle in his one start at the position, but acquitted himself quite well at left tackle when Peters missed a three-game stretch.

On Tuesday, I asked Pederson about the possibility that bringing back Peters could stunt Dillard’s long-term development. I mean, what would it say about a first-round rookie if the Eagles didn’t start him in Year 2 and instead re-signed a 38-year old to play in front of him?

“Andre is the guy we selected,” Pederson said. “He was our top pick a year ago. We feel like he has a bright future. Again, this is where that fine line comes in. We have to have some difficult conversations, not only for us internally but with the players.”

Pederson said his feelings about wanting Peters back are similar to the way he felt about Darren Sproles. Well, the Eagles brought Sproles back in 2018 and 2019 and he got hurt both seasons. It seems like a cautionary tale.

And unlike Sproles, who was a rotational player, if Peters returns, he’ll be the starting left tackle.

“It is that simple when it comes down to it,” Pederson said. “It’s either JP or it’s Andre and those are decisions we have to make.”

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