Philadelphia — The Philadelphia Eagles would prefer quarterback Carson Wentz play his position more like Chris Paul than Allen Iverson as he retakes the reins starting Sunday against the Washington Redskins (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
“My message to him and really to the team is, let the offense work for you, let the team work for you,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “Don’t feel like you have to do things yourself.”
Over the first three years of his pro career, Wentz had a propensity to shoulder a lot of the offensive weight, and would often break out of the construct of the play design in search of something bigger. Sometimes that resulted in the spectacular, as his 2017 highlight reel will attest. Sometimes it resulted in negative plays or unnecessary hits. Since entering the league as the No. 2 overall pick in 2016, Wentz has been contacted 243 times — sixth most of any quarterback in that span.
— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) September 5, 2019
The past two seasons ended with Wentz on the shelf, first because of a torn ACL/LCL in his left knee and then because of a stress fracture in his back. With career longevity rising up the priority list, Wentz reconstructed his diet and workout regimen this offseason.
He also tweaked his approach to the position — at least in practice. Wentz, though as healthy as he’s been since 2017, rarely scrambled, opting instead to move through his reads and fire. It appears he has embraced the very message that Pederson reinforced this week.
“They always do a great job of scheming things and getting us in the right calls, so just taking what’s there, knowing when to take your shots, take your chances, and when to fight another down,” said Wentz, whose comfort in the system has led to faster decision-making in the pocket, playing a role in the style change. “I think that’s been really good this offseason.”
Besides health, there’s another reason to take the less-is-more approach: the quality of the skill-position players around him. You want to give guys such as DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor an opportunity to create. With that much talent, guys are going to spring open, leaving little reason to go off-script in most circumstances. That’s why Wentz’s plan coming out of the gate is to “distribute the ball, get it to my playmakers early, and get this thing going.”
The Eagles have given Wentz all the support he could ask for this offseason. They signed him to a four-year, $128 million extension. General manager Howie Roseman traded for Jackson and Jordan Howard and spent the first three picks in April’s draft on offensive players, including running back Miles Sanders and receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside.
They did all they could to alleviate unnecessary pressure on Wentz, and are encouraging him not to put more on himself than he needs to.
“I feel more than ready,” Wentz said. “The offseason has been great, the preparation, everything, it’s all there, and we’re ready to go. And for me, just trying not to press, and just try to play ball, and be myself again. I’m excited to go do that on Sunday.”