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Pederson's Play Calling Punishes Wentz: NFL Unfiltered Week 6

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After five professional football games, it is clear Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has skill.  It is also clear head coach Doug Pederson should exercise caution, or the next 11 games could ruin the youngster.  

Because Wentz has experienced some early success, Pederson seems to think he is calling plays for Dan Marino, or some other quarterbacking legend.

It is a trap head coaches fall into far too often: Believing they have struck gold in the arduous search for a franchise quarterback, they heap more on the player by ordering more pass plays.  Of course, more pass plays means more chances for defenses to pound the prized rookie.  Photo: Bleedinggreennation.com

However, the Wentz narrative is unchanged.  He is still 10 months removed from dissecting division 1-AA defenses and just two months ago, the Eagles earmarked him for earbud and tablet duty for most, if not all of the 2016 season.  

Irrespective of how good Wentz becomes, his success is still tied to general manager Howie Roseman’s ability to build a defense and Pederson’s willingness to run the football.  If teams insist on playing rookies, in my view, they should bring them along much like the Pittsburgh Steelers did with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger over a decade ago.

As Roethlisberger builds his case for Canton enshrinement, it is easy to forget his first two seasons in the NFL.  In those years, former head coach Bill Cowher refused to let him do more than hand the ball to a running back, as he averaged a mere 21.66 pass attempts per game.  In year three, that number soared to 31.27 pass attempts per game, and by year six, he threw nearly 34 passes per contest.  

By comparison, Wentz is already at 31.4 attempts per game, including 37 throws in his debut against the woeful Cleveland Browns.  Perhaps rule changes are a part of that, but more likely, Pederson’s mindset is the cause.   

Since Wentz has shown competence, it is natural to want to give him more responsibility.  However, that added responsibility puts Wentz in peril, particularly without starting right tackle Lane Johnson.  

To wit, Wentz has suffered a total of eight sacks the last two games, including five Sunday, and his 7.10 sack percentage ranks 26th in the NFL.  Considering the number of short passes Wentz throws, that number is troubling.  

To my way thinking, Pederson ought to use the season’s last 11 games to do everything he can to prevent as much bodily harm to the 24-year old signal-caller as possible.  That means more running plays and fewer passes launched from directly behind the center.  

If Pederson doesn’t scale it back, Wentz is going to get hurt, which will turn a promising season, into a full-fledged nightmare.  

THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 6

-Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is as sore a loser as you’ll find.  The optics certainly aren’t good, but there is plenty of time for the 27-year old to mature into the kind of gracious loser the masses wants.  

-You won’t confuse me with being a Dallas Cowboys fan, but they play football the way teams ought to.  

-It is always confusing when teams get back to the running game because their quarterback either hasn’t played well lately or isn’t capable of playing well at all.  For the Arizona Cardinals, tailback David Johnson is suddenly a huge part of their offense.  But why must Carson Palmer play poorly, then suffer a concussion before Johnson becomes the focus?  

-It is often said football is the ultimate team sport and quarterbacks cannot do it all by themselves.  If that’s true—and I believe it is—why do so many act as if they cannot win if the quarterback fails to dominate?  

-Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has mugged receivers his entire career.  A career that likely means election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Why wouldn’t he grab receiver Julio Jones by the arm with the game on the line?  

-Every few years or so, people act like Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has become Joe Montana and it is always a false narrative.  Without question, Ryan is a good quarterback, always has been.  The key to the Falcons this year is general manager Thomas Dimitroff.  Let’s see if he’s finally built something in Ryan’s ninth year in the league.  

-If you’re New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, whom do you fire, the general manager who couldn’t or wouldn’t trade for quarterbacks Sam Bradford or Colin Kaepernick?  Or the head coach who refuses to give any of the team’s three other quarterbacks a chance to play?    

-National pundits suggested the San Francisco 49ers should have kept Alex Smith instead of replacing him with Kaepernick.  That is like saying someone should have kept dial-up internet over high-speed because they cannot consistently stream Netflix.  

Speaking of Netflix, there are literally hundreds of programs more entertaining than what the NFL offers each week.  Wake me when the playoffs begin

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

 

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Photo: Bleedinggreennation.com