Whether it has been warranted or not, criticism has come the way of arguably the most beloved Eagle since Brian Dawkins.
While some of the criticism is just, a large portion of it is click bait and a product of a frustrating 2018 season all around.
An accurate point about Carson Wentz’s play this year is the lack of big plays and a lack of big plays coming from Wentz scrambling.
While his accuracy from the pocket has vastly improved, those Houdini-like moments from 2017 outside the pocket have only reappeared a few times.
Until last night.
From the first drive on Washington struggled to get Wentz to the ground. It helped spark a touchdown drive for the offense’s first possession of the game.
That has been rare territory for an offense that has been the worst first quarter unit in the NFL.
Eagles fans still aren’t sure how Wentz dropped this pass perfectly into Golden Tate’s chest. The majority of them thought the ball was simply being thrown away.
On the touchdown play of this drive, Wentz pulled off some more magic.
Wentz tries to escape outside and when he is met by Washington LB Ryan Anderson, Wentz makes a great cut back inside (turning Anderson inside-out). By holding onto the football longer, Golden Tate gets more time to beat his one on one match up in the back of the end zone which he takes care of.
More often than not this season, Wentz in these types of situations has stayed grounded in the pocket and may not have waited long enough to find Tate on this route.
It is a dangerous play but his willingness to try and pull these off is a big part of why the Eagles fell in love with the North Dakota product.
Head Coach Doug Pederson knew getting this element back to the offense was crucial. He installed a lot of designed plays for Wentz to throw on the run. Specifically with play action.
Carson Wentz went 6-7 and threw for a career-high 100 yards on passes outside the pocket on Monday.
All of those passes came off play-action. Wentz also set a career-high with 163 play-action passing yards. pic.twitter.com/rG0lDBrzhX
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 4, 2018
Wentz was able to connect on four 25+ yard completions and he could have had more if the game was closer. The offense went run-centric to have Josh Adams close out the win.
With weapons up the wazoo on offense, adding a scrambling Wentz on a consistent basis will be a huge boost to the Eagles playoff hopes.
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!
Philadelphia Eagles2 weeks ago
Jeffery doesn’t appear to be a source in Wentz story
Philadelphia Eagles2 weeks ago
The Eagles should let Golden Tate walk
Philadelphia Eagles20 hours ago
Bell over Brown is an obvious choice for the Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles1 week ago
Interview with Utah State RB Darwin Thompson