Carson Wentz has seen his fair share of struggles over the past two seasons. While many of the issues can be attributed to the Philadelphia Eagles, some of the blame does fall on Wentz as well.
One area where Wentz has had constant struggles over the past two years, and for most of his career, is in his mechanics. His mechanics peaked in 2017/2018 under the tutelage of Tom House and Adam Dedeaux.
After 2018, Wentz wasn't able to work with House or Dedeaux in Philly. The result was the deterioration of his mechanics, and him reverting back to bad habits. So, in this series we will be looking at the details of Wentz's mechanics and where he needs to improve to be a more efficient passer.
Our first topic of this series is called setting the hallway. This is a term that describes body positioning in the pocket and the quarterback aligning himself with his intended target. This was one of the biggest problem areas for Wentz over the last two years.
What is Setting the Hallway?
Setting the hallway is a term that I learned from one of the best QB Coaches in the country in Dub Maddox. Maddox is the QB Coach and Offensive Coordinator at Union High School and has authored many books on quarterback play. He is also the founder of the R4 operating system that is tailored to improve quarterback and coaching decision making.
Maddox was kind enough to speak with me on setting the hallway and other aspects of quarterback play. Here is what he had to say on this particular subject:
The hips are where all movement originates from. The idea is that if you are a quarterback and you are scanning the field, you have to have the ability to rotate that front hip. If you put a camera on that front hip, that camera has to be pointed to the route space that you are throwing to. If your back foot is set up properly, then your front hip is set up properly.
Setting the hallway is essentially about aligning the quarterback's front hip and back foot with where they want to throw the football. If those two points on the body are pointing where they need to be, it sets the quarterback up to get the most velocity and best accuracy on a pass.
Here is a clip from an excellent video breakdown with Maddox and The Athletic's Ted Nguyen back in 2017 regarding Wentz and aspects of quarterback play. Maddox breaks down what setting the hallway is and why it is vital to quarterback play.
Without properly setting up the hallway or aligning the lower half of the quarterback's body with the intended target, it causes the upper half to carry the load. When the hallway isn't set, the lower half of the body can't follow through and generate proper hip rotation. This creates a loss of velocity and accuracy on throws.
Wentz's Struggles with Setting the Hallway
When it comes to Carson Wentz, the issue boils down to his lack of movement in his back foot when in the pocket.
"Carson’s big guilt is, when you look at a lot of his throws when he drops, his hips or back foot will stay down the field as opposed to rotating right or left for the sideline throws." Maddox explained. "He would very rarely rotate that back right foot around, which we call setting the hallway."
When Wentz doesn't rotate his back foot on outside throws, he is missing that 18 inch window needed in the NFL. The 18 inch window, as Maddox explained to me, is the width of a wide receiver's shoulders. Quarterbacks have to be able to throw down 18 inch hallways in the NFL to maintain accuracy.
"In the NFL, that’s the margin of error." said Maddox. "If you are outside that 18 inch window, it’s an incompletion or an interception."
This is a major issue with many quarterbacks but with Wentz, it is one of the root causes of his recent inaccuracies. Wentz has had his completion percentage drop from 69.6% in 2018 to a career low 57.4% in 2020. His interception total also climbed from seven in 2019 up to 15 in 2020.
Before looking at a few clips of Wentz, let's look at a positive clip of setting the hallway. Andrew Luck was masterful at this late in his career, and he always aligned himself with his target down the field.
This clip is a perfect example of what I am talking about. Luck is making a fairly routine throw but he still takes the time to line up his target and get proper hip rotation on the throw. The result is great velocity and accuracy on the touchdown.
Now, let's look at a clip from Wentz in 2019. He is throwing to his right but his back foot stays vertically up the field. With his body aligned to the middle of the field, he misses his intended target to the inside on the fourth down play. It's a small detail but one that makes a difference come game day.
Here are a few more clips from Wentz in 2019 just to add more context to what I am saying. Notice where his back foot/front hip are lined up and where he is missing these throws in these clips.
Is it Fixable?
That's what is great about mechanical issues, they are fixable. It will take a lot of work to iron out the details but these are subtle things that could help Wentz improve on Sundays.
Maddox actually had an interesting theory as to why Wentz has the tendency to under-set his back foot to the right and over-set his back foot to the left:
Everybody has a dominant eye, and most people are right eye dominant. When you look at a lot of (Wentz) throws to the right, he doesn’t get his hips all the way around to set that hallway. Let's say he’s throwing, like, a corner route or a comeback. His hips or back foot are very rarely in position to set that hallway, and my guess is that he is right eye dominant. His eye is telling his brain that he is set directly when he’s really not.
While it may seem like a major issue, I promise it's not. Every player has a dominant eye and has a tendency to struggle with alignment to both sides. The key to fixing it is just repetition with the quarterback to straighten up the hallway.
"You have to kind of over-correct those right eye dominant quarterbacks and make sure they understand about that hip position and setting that vertical hallway." said Maddox.
Albert Breer reported earlier this week that Wentz is working with famed QB Coach Adam Dedeaux (who is a disciple of Tom House). If they can focus on fixing Wentz's hallway alignment and mitigating his right-eye dominant issues, it will go a long way towards making Wentz a more accurate quarterback in the long run.
Carson Wentz has plenty of mechanical issues to iron out in Indy, and this is just one of the many we are going to be talking about in this series.
I started with this particular issue because I believe a majority of Wentz's issues are in his lower half, rather than his upper body. If he can just fix his alignment and learn to properly set his hallways, he could return to his previously successful form.
"I think it is something that can be coached out of him, I just don’t know what he is being coached on." said Maddox.
That is the key. In Philadelphia, it is safe to say he wasn't getting the best coaching these last two years. In Indy, he is surrounded by former quarterbacks and is back working with Adam Dedeaux on his mechanics.
This issue, and many others in this series, can be ironed out with coaching. It all comes down to how Wentz can improve with this upgrade in the coaching department.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.