Philadelphia Eagles: Running Carson Wentz makes a ton of sense

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

After playing it safe early in the season, the Philadelphia Eagles have finally allowed Carson Wentz to run free(er) down the stretch.

When the Philadelphia Eagles lost Carson Wentz to a season-ending injury against the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, it was a major bummer.

Sure, the team had eventual Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles on the roster – though who could have predicted that at the time – but after putting together a masterful start to his sophomore season, it just felt unfair.

But when Wentz suffered another season-ending injury in 2018, Doug Pederson got cautious.

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You see, one of the many, many reasons why Wentz is such an intriguing quarterback, besides his innate ability to pull a Houdini pass out of thin air, is his ability to make plays with his legs.

Whether extending plays outside the pocket, eyes down the field like Russell Wilson or dropping his shoulder to pick up yards on his own, Wentz’s dynamic playmaker-ability made him elite.

But playing so free, dare I say reckless, comes at a cost.

Call it a calculated risk, but Pederson and company just couldn’t stomach another season prematurely stifled by another injury, and opted to try to convert Wentz into a Foles-esque pocket passer – even if it sacrificed what made him, well, him in the process.

However, the Eagles chained down Wentz in the pocket without a game plan to match.

You see, the Eagles have flown to their greatest heights as an offense when they go fast, play loose, and execute a scheme predicated on screens, trickery, and run-pass options, oh so many run-pass options. That scheme isn’t huge on big plays, but it works.

That is not the scheme the Eagles have asked Wentz to run until very, very recently.

No, in true 13-year NFL quarterback fashion, Pederson has tried over and over to deploy a pass-heavy hybrid West Coast offense. Such a scheme can be successful, Donovan McNabb ran some iteration of it for his entire career, but even Pederson’s mentor Andy Reid has moved past it for something a bit more innovative.

How has that worked out for Chiefs‘ quarterback Patrick Mahomes?

But something funny happened when the 2019’s season’s calendar flipped to December: Pederson stopped playing it safe.

Call it the obvious trappings of being a team with a shoestring’s chance to make the playoffs, but Pederson finally stopped going for gold with a vanilla offense and brought back the screen-heavy scheme made Foles a hero in the 215 – only this time, he had a legitimate franchise quarterback calling the shots.

And over the final four games of the season, Wentz has made things work with his legs.

Now granted, Wentz’s production on the ground isn’t going to make anyone forget about Lamar Jackson anytime soon, but after attempting zero carries against the Miami Dolphins in Week 13, Wentz has run the ball 17 times for 55 yards to cap off his season at 228 yards on 59 total carries.

Could Wentz still get hurt? Totally, but which would you rather, the Birds go down swinging and lose on an injury, or play it safe and lose anyway?

A fan’s perspective on a roller coaster season. dark. Next

For better or worse, the Philadelphia Eagles are going to live or die by the play of Carson Wentz in the postseason. Personally, I’d like to see them do whatever it takes to steal a Wild Card game on their home turf, safety not guaranteed.