After Nick Foles guided the Eagles to a 1-1 record to start the season, fans were excited to see Carson Wentz back under center. So far in his return he has been playing pretty well, but it seems like Wentz is taking longer to adjust back to the speed of the game than most thought after he tore his ACL in 2017. For whatever reason, he missed a wide open receiver in third year Runningback Wendell Smallwood running up the sideline again, this time against Jacksonville.
Smallwood wide open, blown coverage at the top of the screen pic.twitter.com/iJPCYfgnOc
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 28, 2018
On 2nd and 9 from the Jaguars’ 23-yard line, Wentz threw arguably his ugliest pass of the season. The throw looked like it was intended for Joshua Perkins, the Eagles third string Tight End, who couldn’t come back to the underthrown ball as it was picked off by Jalen Ramsey.
In Wentz’s defense, Ramsey is one of the best Cornerbacks in the NFL. However, that fact alone doesn’t excuse him from throwing an interception that could’ve been an easy touchdown. Smallwood ran a perfect route, and the blown coverage from the Jaguars gave Wentz a free runner up the sideline for the entire route once he made his final cut.
This is the second week in a row that Wentz either opted to not throw to Smallwood or just didn’t see him. Considering he hit Smallwood for two catches in the game, I would suspect it’s the latter. He missed Smallwood on a crucial 3rd and 2 against the Panthers, which would have given the Eagles a first down and four more opportunities to get in the endzone and win the game.
Wentz had an open Smallwood in the left flat on 3rd-and-2, instead threw it into double coverage. Then he couldn't convert the 4th-and-2 and the Eagles lose. Sickening loss. pic.twitter.com/IcJHxt9x57
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 21, 2018
I’m not so sure Wentz has fully adjusted to the game speed, as he’s taken a lot of time to try to find someone open the past few weeks. Now in the play today, it could be entirely possible that Smallwood was just meant to pull coverage away from the middle on that play, but that wouldn’t have mattered much in this case as Ramsey was lined up to the near side and simply read Wentz the whole way.
The third year quarterback out of North Dakota State looks a bit sluggish this year with his decision making—at least compared to 2017. One might wonder if Ramsey took extra time in the film room this past week to prepare for Wentz to misread the coverage and throw into that part of the goal. Regardless, Wentz has to start getting through his reads quicker and hit his open receivers. Otherwise, interceptions that should be touchdowns will continue to hinder the offense.
He at least made up for his mistake to Smallwood later in the game when he executed a screen perfectly to him for a big touchdown.