There are a lot of reasons Carson Wentz is an elite quarterback in the NFL. His ability to manipulate a defense with his arm and his mind was a big part of why the Eagles fell in love with his prospects in 2016.
What separates Wentz from other top NFL quarterbacks is his ability to extend plays with his legs. A defense can seemingly have Wentz trapped and suddenly he makes four defenders miss and makes a play on the run with his arm or legs.
Running can expose a quarterback to more contact which resulted in Wentz tearing his ACL last year but this season Wentz has been labeled as “damaged goods” that still plays a reckless style of football.
Not only was that not the case the majority of the time last year as a runner, but Wentz has been even pickier in deciding when to go for extra yards and when to give himself up this season.
Wentz wasn’t afraid to use his legs in his first game back against the Colts. He does a good job of heading for the sidelines and when he realizes he won’t make it before two Colts defenders get to him, he slides down.
Here again, Wentz makes an amazing play to avoid the sack against Minnesota and gets down after a nice pickup.
Wentz is a lot more responsible as a runner than he is given credit for.
Most of the contact on Wentz has come from defensive players hitting him despite sliding feet first. Repeatedly this year Wentz has been hit after giving himself up without a penalty being called. If this was Tom Brady on any of these plays, a flag would have been thrown immediately.
There haven’t been a lot of situations where Wentz has a defender in his face, and he elects to take on the hit and fight for extra yards. When Wentz has been hit, it has been a result of being chased down by a defender. This has happened on a number of plays this year as Wentz slowly gets his speed back from the injury.
That is big nose tackle Linval Joseph that beats Wentz to the edge…..
Wentz does take some hits. Any quarterback that runs won’t always be able to avoid it. What you should hope for is that the scrambling QB picks the right times to take on contact. For instance, the run that Wentz tore his ACL last year against the Rams was a good situation to fight for the touchdown.
The Eagles were trailing in the fourth quarter against a top NFC team. If the Eagles don’t win that game in LA, they may not get a first round bye and home field advantage, which was crucial in the Super Bowl run.
This year Wentz has chosen the right times to be aggressive.
Some might say holding onto the ball and running around is reckless but some signal callers that don’t have the ability to make plays with their legs may take a big hit on a play like this. Instead, Wentz gets outside the pocket, recognizes he has a foot on the pursuing Colts defenders to the sticks and dives to move the chains.
That is the right time to make that kind of play.
Another play where Wentz needs to dive for a first down to continue the drive. A 3rd and 6 against the Giants, Wentz gets down but goes head first to get the ball over the sticks.
Wentz plays far more wreckless than the likes of Jared Goff or Josh Rosen. However the narrative that Wentz is a reckless player that doesn’t know when to take a hit and when not too (almost RG3 like) is simply false.
He has been very good at protecting himself this season when extending plays, or espacing the pocket where the offensive line has allowed Wentz to get hit more than anywhere on the field.
Bell over Brown is an obvious choice for the Eagles
It’s almost fishing season in the NFL as all 32 teams look to catch some nice pieces for their roster through free agency, the draft, and the trade market. While the biggest fish don’t always tend to swim in those waters, every year a few big names suddenly become available for a team looking to spend.
This year, it just so happens two of the best at their position are up for grabs, and they both are coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Star offensive weapons in RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown will both be in different jerseys next year for the first time in their careers. Bell is set to become a free agent, while Pittsburgh and Brown agreed a trade is in the best interest for both sides.
On paper, the Eagles could make sense for both. Adding weapons around Carson Wentz will always be a priority. However if Howie Roseman and the front office decide they want to go after one of these expensive play-makers, Bell makes much more sense for a number of reasons.
Bell doesn’t come with the baggage Brown does
Don’t let this fool you. Talent beats culture. It is why the Steelers were consistently atop the AFC despite a chaotic locker room. Coaches like Chip Kelly flamed out because they prioritized scheme and a robotic culture.
Despite that, Brown’s antics off the field are a real concern. He quit on his team with the season on the line. Pittsburgh needed a win and a Baltimore loss to make the postseason in Week 17 but Brown was MIA.
The temper tantrums on the sidelines, ghosting your team with the season on the line, that kind of behavior despite six straight seasons of 100+ receptions is eye opening.
Bell doesn’t have that stench to him. While Steelers fans will tell you Bell was selfish and uncommitted to football, it is unfair to say he has character concerns because he didn’t want to risk his long term health in a contract year. He wanted to be paid like the star he is and Pittsburgh wanted to pay the position not the player. Can’t blame either side.
Brown would require trade assets AND a big contract
Some people love to scoff at the idea of paying any significant resource for a star RB like Bell. While it wouldn’t be smart to kill the salary cap for the do-it-all weapon, it is far more reasonable to pay Bell rather than pay Brown big money and give up the trade assets it would take to get him from Pittsburgh.
What sounds better to you? $14+ million a year for Bell or $14+ million a year for Brown and perhaps a 2nd round pick + Nelson Agholor?
Bell, Agholor, and the rookie taken with that 2nd round pick sounds a lot better than just Brown.
The report Bell wants $50 million in the first two years is scary. He turned down a 5 year $70 million deal with the Steelers but perhaps when the market develops Bell will have to temper his expectations.
Bell’s age and position is more attractive to the Eagles
Two other major elements in deciding between Bell and Brown would be age and position.
By the start of next season, Brown will be 31. Bell will be be 27. Bell has four years on Brown.
If Bell could maintain his productivity into his early 30’s, the Eagles could be set at RB for 5-6 years.
Being a running back also makes him a more attractive option. Doug Pederson’s offense is in desperate need of a talented RB.
Having a weapon like Bell in the backfield that can be your top runner, a top receiver, and efficient pass blocker puts this Eagles offense on a level only the Saints and Rams can match in the NFC.
It also makes the offense less predictable. Using a committee with featured grinders like Ryan Mathews, LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajay, and Josh Adams to go along with the clear pass catchers in Darren Sproles and Corey Clement can be a good way to keep your backs fresh, but it is clear what the offense plans to do on 3rd and 4 when Sproles is out there.
It is easier to predict what Pederson will do on 3rd and 2 when Blount was out there. Someone like Bell keeps the defense guessing in any situation.
While the Eagles could use more speed on offense, Brown would be a luxury. A luxury that could cost high draft picks, players, a high cap hit, and potential baggage.
Is that worth it for a team that already has at least four quality receiving options? Can’t imagine Brown would be happy not seeing 13+ targets a game.
History tells us the Eagles won’t go after either Bell or Brown. However with an aggressive front office that has shown a commitment in surrounding their franchise QB with weapons, it wouldn’t be suprising to see one of these two in midnight green. Especially with Roseman’s ability to perform magic on the salary cap.
If they decide to pursue one, it should be Le’Veon Bell.
Offseason Options: Wide Receiver
The Eagles have plenty of weapons for Carson Wentz to throw to in 2019. The WR position, however, could use more speed to compliment the bigger weapons in Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert.
If Golden Tate, Mike Wallace, and/or Jordan Matthews leave the Eagles this offseason, what options does Howie Roseman have in free agency and the draft when it comes to pass catchers?
Louie and Gino give some big name options in the draft and free agency, as well as some receivers that could fly under the radar in both offseason periods.
Offseason Options: Running Back
It is time for the Eagles to add some serious talent in the backfield. What are their options if they want to add a big name free agent? What about a high draft pick?
If Howie Roseman sticks to his strategy of lower-priced free agents or draft picks, who could be a diamond in the rough?
Our “Offseason options’ series begins with RB on the Locked on Eagles podcast!
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