Eagles' Wentz getting no help from run game
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Carson Wentz is throwing more and more passes, a trend his coach wants to stop.
Philadelphia's rookie quarterback has averaged 45 passes per game the past two weeks, up from 30.8 attempts over the first six games. The reason is a sputtering rushing attack.
The Eagles (4-4) have had fewer than 100 yards rushing in three of their four losses. That's partly due to falling behind 14-0 three times and quickly turning to the pass.
During their 3-0 start, they averaged 119 yards on the ground.
''I wouldn't necessarily like to drop any quarterback back that many times,'' coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday. ''It goes back to being able to run the football and kind of hanging your hat there first and then (using) the play-action stuff.''
The Eagles abandoned the run early in a 28-23 loss to the Giants last week after Wentz threw a pair of interceptions that helped New York jump ahead 14-0. His first pick came on second-and-3, an ideal run situation. The second one was on third-and-5.
Pederson also passed up field goals twice in the first half to go for it on fourth down and failed. The points could've closed the gap and changed the course of the playcalling.
''We have put ourselves in a little bit of a bind these last couple of games, so the passing game kind of catches you up a little bit,'' Pederson said. ''But we still want to stick within the game plan, manage it that way, and use that run game to your advantage.''
The Eagles don't have a clear No. 1 back. Ryan Mathews, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher and former Pro Bowl player in San Diego, has lost his starting job to 33-year-old Darren Sproles. Mathews has nine carries in the last two games while Sproles ran 28 times. Rookie Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner also see action.
''It's still a little bit of the running back by committee,'' Pederson said. ''Obviously, we haven't hung our hat on one guy, but we tend to lean more toward Darren Sproles. It's hard to take him off the field right now.''
Sproles is averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Barner (5.2) and Smallwood (4.4) have done well in limited playing time. Mathews still leads the team with 287 yards and five touchdowns, but his YPC is 3.8. He also has two fourth-quarter fumbles, including one that led to a 24-23 loss at Detroit.
The veteran Sproles is an excellent punt returner who was mostly used as a situational back throughout his career. He's only 5-foot-6 and 190 pounds, so Pederson has to be careful not to overuse him.
''We've got to make sure we keep him healthy and keep him going, especially as the season wears on,'' Pederson said.
Wentz doesn't mind carrying the load. But Philadelphia's best formula for success is a balanced offense.
''We struggle with consistency,'' Wentz said. ''That's something we've got to be better with. We've got to be better with our details, just consistency and not shooting ourselves in the foot.''
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