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Philadelphia Eagles

The deep ball reappears

Louie DiBiase

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Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles offense looked the smoothest it has all season against the Rams. The offensive line dominated Aaron Donald, Alshon Jeffery dominated Aqib Talib, and Doug Pederson constructed a perfect game plan for Nick Foles to go out, sling it, and play loose.

With play action, run-pass option, and a strong offensive line giving Foles time, it was the perfect situation to target the Eagles best receiver in Jeffery down the field.

It was the first time since Wentz injured his back that the offense was able to take shots deep on a consistent basis.

Foles went 3-5 for 112 yards on 20+ yard throws including two “big time throws” per Pro Football Focus.

He was confident, playing loose, and deadly accurate.

While it has been a while since the offense showed their dangerous vertical threats in the passing game, this wasn’t the first time Foles or Wentz made plays on deep passes this season.

The popular belief is that Wentz was reliant on short passes to Zach Ertz all season. Wentz, Jeffery, and the offense actually made big plays more than they get credit for in 2018.

Early season connections

When Wentz came back from his ACL injury, he had a lot of success on plays 20+ yards down the field. Especially to Jeffery.

The real criticism of Wentz this year should be not giving Jeffery more chances in one on one coverage down the stretch. It wasn’t something he strayed from early on. However, these plays in Tennesee and against the Rams have been missing from the offense for the majority of the season.

Before the back injury, Wentz’s deep ball was fast and accurate.

There were plays to be had down the field that won’t show up on the stat sheet too. Drops like this perfect throw on the first play against the Titans to Nelson Agholor have been left out of the conversation.

 

The injury 

While recently Wentz has over-relied on Ertz and quick passes over the middle of the field, a lot of that can be the result of a stress fracture in his back and a recovering torn ACL and LCL.

The back and leg are two of the most important body parts when it comes to throwing the ball deep.

Doug Pederson’s play calling looked like it went away from plays that got Wentz moving around, using vertical routes and play action where a lot of the Eagles big plays have come from this season.

Probably to avoid exposing Wentz to these kinds of hits Foles took last week.

Wentz had no issue connecting on home-run, highlight reel plays to Agholor, Jeffery, Ertz, and Torrey Smith in 2017 so to assume he suddenly has the aggression of Sam Bradford is irresponsible.

Just go through this highlight reel of Wentz throws from the first half of the season.

Even when he was injured Wentz made a few big plays with his arm.

 

It isn’t unfair to say the Eagles haven’t stretched the field very well as of late. Or to say they haven’t used all the weapons and areas of the field in the passing game.

Wentz needs to get that trust in his receivers back that he has with Ertz.

But to say he hasn’t made plays like Foles did on Sunday night isn’t true.

Foles and Pederson brought it back at the most important time in LA. Can’t take anything away from them.

But again, a positive take about Foles doesn’t always have to result in a negative take about Wentz.

 

 

Louie, an Eagles, and NFL enthusiast all his life has finally found his home to share his thousands of takes on the Philadelphia Eagles with Locked on Eagles. Louie also works in Buffalo sports radio as a producer for WGR Sports Radio 550 the official home of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, in addition to working as the Sports Director for 91.3 FM WBNY Buffalo. He may be far from the nest, but Louie bleeds green just like the rest of Eagles Nation. Fly Eagles Fly.

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