Things I buy: Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, gas for my jalopy, fat kickers (think Joey Julius and Seabastian Janikowski), Belichick being an alien, and the Pats going 16-0; again.
Things I don’t buy: Vegetarians, Trump seriously running for president, Chip Kelly, Brady being a system QB (feel the bias yet?) but, most of all, rookie quarterbacks.
By Jake Randall
First off, let me address some of the above. Ben and Jerry’s is well worth the cost; Joey Julius hits like the biggest LB you’ve never seen; and Belichick can only be explained by extraterrestrial means. Oh, and where are all these Trump voters actually coming from? Maine, I blame you.
But now, let me spend some time addressing the Carson Wentz’s of the world. Good for you. The underdogs are rising up and I’m all for that. But, for all those jumping on the Wentz Wagon after that total shelling of the Steelers — seemingly the best offense in the league — let me give you some food for thought about why it’s time to pump the breaks. While I can’t deny that win was awesome (far more impressive than the wins over the Bears and Browns), the piece I really don’t buy is that Carson Wentz is everything people are making him out to be. Like, slow down Baldy; you’re comparing him to Rodgers and Peyton?! Keep in mind, Ryan Leaf won his first two games, RG III tricked us for a whole year, and Nick Foles was an anomaly in 2013 with the Eagles.
I question if Wentz has the intangibles that the best QB’s have. Does he have the ‘nads to post the game-winning drives that have made Brady the “comeback kid?” I’m not so sure. Does he have the ability to break the pocket and compromise in the way that Russell Wilson has done throughout his young career? I haven’t seen enough of it. Although that dump off to Sproles for a 73 yard TD was solid. This is all stuff that will best tested with time, complex defensive schemes, and game scenarios. Now let me move on to what I’ve seen so far in 3 weeks.
I have a love-hate relationship with the term “game manager.” There are only 32 people in the world that share the title “Starting NFL Quarterback” — imagine that on your LinkedIn profile — barring what’s going on in Foxborough and Cleveland. At the same time, it’s hard to argue that some signal-callers shoulder far more of a burden than others. Think of the Aaron Rodgers’ and Drew Brees’ of the NFL. When was the last time either of those quarterbacks got to ride the back of a truly great defense? Brady, Wilson, Big Ben, Flacco, and Mannings, have all won a Lombardi (or is it the Belichick Trophy now?) while riding a great defense.
What I’m getting at is I don’t believe the narrative should be all about Wentz, especially with how stout that Philly defense has been. They are top 5 in the league in almost every category. Granted they played two garbage teams to begin the year, an average of 9 points allowed per game is stellar. Wentz doesn’t have to do much to score more than 9 points per game.
That’s exactly what he’s been tasked to do thus far; not much. I commend Wentz for doing what little they have asked him, but I think the more remarkable first-year in that organization is first year head coach Doug Pederson. He has put together a game plan that has worked. I won’t say it’s an amazing game plan, and I have to give the defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz a ton of credit for the wins, but it’s working well enough so far. To put that offensive game plan into perspective, of Wentz’s 31 passes, 18 of them where within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Of those 18 short passes, 15 of them where within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage and 11 of those were behind the line of scrimmage. I mean, look at this pass chart.
Hes’s throwing the ball outside and away from linebackers. Any corners that would be in that area in man are following a WR elsewhere. And even if they’re in zone, no defense covers people that far behind the line of scrimmage. Wentz is the halfway house of quarterbacks — he takes the ball from the center and gets it to a play maker in the easiest way possible in order for them to make something happen. Frankly, I’m surprised they don’t just run the wildcat so they can have an extra blocker for Sproles. So is he the next big time QB? I think not.
Here’s a PSA to the rest of the league; make him beat you over the top.
If you watch all of his throws here, Wentz does grant the (banged up) Steelers defense a few chances at turnovers, which they don’t capitalize on. Most of those throws were further down the field. For all you who think Carson is the new Super Man, I present you his kryptonite. Cover the underneath stuff. Stay in contain, cover the screens and make him get the ball down field. This will allow pass rushers more time to get to him and knock him off his game. That Steelers defense didn’t hit him more than a few times. Watch this guy crumble when his safety valves aren’t getting easy first downs and he has people in his grill consistently.
In conclusion, everyone welcome the generations next Alex Smith — a guy who manages the game and rides a solid defense — but someone who won’t win you a championship. Also, Joey Julius has done it more than once and I hope he opens up a role for over-sized players at the NFL level; you’re welcome, LaQuan McGowan.