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Understanding the Brilliance of Carson Wentz's 2019 Season

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A lot of people believe that Carson Wentz didn’t play at an elite level last year. Today, I’m telling you that you are wrong. Wentz was brilliant last season, but you have to look further than the basic stats to see that.


Breaking Down Carson’s Situation

As many people know, the Eagles dealt with many injuries last year. DeSean Jackson played just 4.5 quarters last season, Alshon and Nelson dealt with injuries the whole year and weren’t even good when they played, Jordan Howard missed half the season, and both Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz missed some time. However, it wasn’t just Carson’s weapons. Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, and Brandon Brooks all missed time. The Eagles were still PFF’s top offensive line, but that was mostly because of their run blocking. The Eagles were just 18th in pass block win rate, at just 59%. Wentz was also in the top 12 of the most sacked QBs.


Wentz dealt with horrible weapons, everyone knows that. However, people don’t realize that he didn’t have great pass protection. What Wentz did in the situation he was in last year was truly incredible. The basic stats really don’t give Wentz the credit he deserves.

StatYardsTouchdownsInterceptionsInterception %Y/AComp %ANY/A
Number4,0392771.2%6.763.9%6.26
League Rank9th5th21st most5th lowest25th17th16th

As we can see, in the basic stat categories, Wentz was really only elite in TD:INT. However, this is why I’m going to be diving a lot deeper. First, of all, those stats don’t have context. Wentz has a very bad Y/A, but we have to realize he only had a deep ball threat for one game. Second of all, we can do a deeper dive into the stats to prove how good Wentz was last year.


Consistency

Carson Wentz is a consistent QB. He was the only quarterback to throw at least 1 touchdown pass in every game last year and has the longest regular-season touchdown streak in the league. Of the 16 games he played last season, he only played badly in one game. It’s impossible to play great every game, but when Wentz doesn’t play great or even good, he’ll usually play average instead of playing bad. That’s a huge reason why the Eagles were in basically every game they played last year, and why they were able to make some comebacks late in games. 


Wentz’s Situational Stats

In my opinion, situational stats aren’t talked about enough. They have a lot of information but aren’t used very often. Personally, I like them a lot. I value stats like 3rd down passing, Redzone passing, passing when trailing, etc. Let’s take a look at Wentz’s stats in the Redzone first.

The Eagles were 3rd in Redzone touchdown percentage at 66.7%, and 5th in Redzone touchdowns with 36. Even though the weren’t in the Redzone as much as they probably would have liked, the Eagles were still super-efficient in the Redzone. A big reason why? Carson Wentz. Carson had the 2nd best TD:INT in the Redzone with 19 TDs and 0 picks, and he was also 2nd in TD:INT inside the 10-yard line, tossing 15 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Wentz was also 9th among QBs with at least 25 RZ attempts in RZ completion % at 59.4% and 10th among QBs with at least 20 attempts inside the 10 with a 56.7% inside the 10 completion %. 

Now, I know not even a 60% completion % doesn’t seem good, but you have to remember that this is the Redzone. The field is condensed, it’s much harder to get a wide-open receiver. It’s tough to complete passes in the Redzone, and when you combine Wentz’s good accuracy numbers with his great touchdown numbers, it’s clear we have an elite Redzone QB on our hands. This is nothing new to Wentz, as he has a 72:2 TD:INT in the Redzone his whole career, but I did want to point out how good he was in the Redzone last year. 

Let’s move onto 3rd down. The Eagles’ 45.4% 3rd down conversion rate was the 4th best in the league, and the Eagles had the most 3rd down conversions. Once again, Carson was a huge reason why.

YardsTouchdownsInterceptionsComp %Y/APasser Rating
1,03811157.3%6.396.0

Wentz also had a 2.7 ALEX, which was good for 7th in the NFL. ALEX measures the average distance between how far a QB needed to throw a pass (air yards) and how many yards he needed to throw a pass to get the 1st down. A 2.7 ALEX means that, on average, Wentz threw the ball 2.7 yards past the sticks. That shows aggressiveness, and while aggressiveness isn’t always a good thing (Looking at you, Josh Allen), it clearly worked for the Eagles. Again, Wentz has been an elite 3rd down QB for a while now, but I did want to show how good he was this year.

Now, I want to show you two stat lines that I found impressive. I’ll be showing you Wentz when he’s leading by one possession (1-8 points) and Wentz when he’s trailing by one possession (1-8 points). Spoiler alert: They are both good.


YardsTouchdownsInterceptionsComp %Y/APasser Rating
Up by 1-8 points7999072.7%7.3120.2
Down by 1-8 points1,1399362.5%5.988

The first thing you should notice here is that Wentz was incredible he was up by 1-8 points. That’s important because he’s giving his team opportunities to go up by two, which is a big deal in the NFL. He doesn’t take the foot off the gas when his team is winning, he tries to push and extend the lead. Also, while not quite as good when he’s trailing by one possession, he’s still really good. I don’t think I need to explain why being good when trailing by one possession is important...right?


Carson Wentz Against Top 10 Pass Defenses

This section won’t be nearly as long as the last section, as it didn’t really fit into any section I had planned. However, I still need to get it into this post. Here were Carson’s stats against top 10 pass defenses in 2019:

Yards Per GameComp %TouchdownsInterceptionsPasser RatingQBR (0-100)
218.262%8193.572.9

When those games were within 1 score: 5:0 TD:INT

As we can see, Wentz played very well against good pass defenses. He threw just one interception in the 5 games he played against top 10 pass defenses (Packers, Vikings, Patriots, Bills, Bears) and even that interception he threw was very late in the game against the Vikings and Wentz was trying to lead the Eagles back from a big deficit. 


Wentz Can Make Something Out of Nothing

One of Wentz’s biggest strengths is being able to extend plays and get huge play when it seems like there’s no possible way to escape. When Wentz got out of the pocket last year, he was special. His 94.4 QBR (0-100) when outside the pocket was 1st in the NFL. A 94.4 QBR is simply incredible. It’s close to perfect. Once Doug started calling plays to get Wentz out of the pocket, the offense instantly got so much better. That’s not all though.

Wentz was elite when he was off-balance. 

QBs shuffling when passing

Average success rate: 41%

Average EPA/attempt: -0.01

Wentz success rate: 55% (1st in NFL)

Wentz EPA/attempt: 0.31 (1st in NFL)

QBs moving when passing

Average success rate: 42%

Average EPA/attempt: 0.01

Wentz success rate: 55% (1st in NFL)

Wentz EPA/attempt: 0.32 (1st in NFL)

Simply put, Wentz was amazing when he was off-balance. No QB found more success when moving/shuffling their feet while throwing the ball than Carson Wentz, not even Patrick Mahomes or Russell Wilson. This is why it’s so hard to play against Carson Wentz. You can have a guy chasing him and he still delivers a perfect ball. You can have a guy pulling him down to the ground and he still delivers a perfect ball. It’s so hard to play against Carson Wentz.

Is that all? Nope. Wentz’s receivers didn’t create much separation last year. He had to throw his WRs open many, many times. Luckily for Doug Pederson and the Eagles’ offense, Wentz was amazing throwing into tight windows.

Wentz throwing into tight windows in 2019

StatComp %Pass YardsPasser RatingConversion %
Number81.3%574137.855.9%
League Rank1st in NFL1st1st1st

Those numbers are incredible. It didn’t matter how good the coverage was, Wentz got his receivers the ball. Those stats are just jaw-dropping. That completion % isn't just a fluke. Since Wentz led the NFL in yards in tight windows, he probably was up there in attempts too. Wentz was an absolute machine last year getting the ball to his receivers, even if they couldn’t get themselves open. No, Wentz isn’t made by Doug Pederson. Sure, Doug’s a great coach, but Wentz truly makes the players around him better, something you can’t say about many QBs in the NFL.


Wentz Over the Last 4 Games of Last Year

The stretch of games last year where Wentz dragged a 5-7 team to the playoffs was the best stretch of football I have ever seen him play. I get the teams he played weren’t exactly the cream of the crop defensively. However, Wentz was outstanding. He carried the offense and put up very good numbers.

Wentz in the last 4 games of last year


YardsTouchdownsInterceptionsComp %Passer Rating
4 game stretch1,1997067.6%100.8
16 game pace4,79628067.6%100.8

Wentz was super efficient, well above his season completion %, and not even throwing one interception. What’s super impressive about that 0 interceptions, is that Wentz threw the ball an average of over 43 times a game in the last 4 games! In all 4 of those games, he attempted at least 40 passes! Yet he was still efficient and stepped up when the Eagles needed it the most and carried the team to 4 straight wins.


Conclusion

Yes, Carson Wentz played at an elite level in 2019. While the basic stats may not say that, if you dive deeper it’s pretty clear. Wentz carried the injury-riddled Eagles team to the playoffs and was playing the best football of his career before Clowney gave Wentz a cheap shot to the head. When I see takes like: “Carson Wentz has regressed” or “Carson Wentz isn’t elite anymore”, I know the people saying that are ill-informed and don’t know what they are talking about. They obviously didn’t do their research and they think they are being smart when in reality, they have no idea what they are talking about. Wentz played at an elite level in 2019, and I expect him to play even better in 2020 now that he finally has speed around him. 


Thanks for reading!

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