The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Supporting Cast Matters

While most of the talk in this series has been around Wentz and his mechanics, today I look into why the quality of the supporting cast is a big part of the equation.
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This series on Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Carson Wentz and his mechanics has almost exclusively focused on the quarterback, and has ignored other factors that could have led to a deterioration of mechanics.

After my conversation with Adam Dedeaux, I realized that this was a major oversight on my part. While Wentz deserves plenty of blame for last year, it is fallacious to tell the story of his 2020 without talking about his supporting cast.

So today, with the help of Dedeaux, I go into detail on why supporting cast matters and how injuries contributed to the decline of Wentz in 2020.

The 2020 Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles, a team only two years removed from a Superbowl victory, were decimated by injuries on offense in 2020. Those injuries, among other factors, led to them becoming one of the worst teams in the league.

It started prior to the season when All-Pro guard Brandon Brooks went down with an achilles injury. Then, former first round pick at left tackle Andre Dillard went down with an ACL injury.

So, before even taking a snap in 2020, Wentz was down two of his best offensive linemen. Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson would also end up missing a majority of the season as well.

The wide receiver group was even more decimated. Veteran Marquise Goodwin opted out prior to the year. Pro Bowl receiver Alshon Jeffrey missed the first eight games of the year with an injury. Rookie first round pick Jalen Reagor and veteran Desean Jackson missed a combined 10 games as well.

The top two targets in the passing game, tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, missed a combined 10 games as well.

This isn't a normal injury-plagued season. This was a majority of Wentz's top targets and veterans being out throughout the course of the year. Dedeaux had some choice words on how this impacted Wentz in 2020:

Zach Ertz got hurt. Dallas Goedert, an emerging tight end, got hurt. Alshon Jeffrey didn’t play most of the year. Desean Jackson was hurt after week two. Then it’s more rookie wideouts. Andre Dillard gets hurt. Brandon Brooks is hurt.

All these things… He would never make these excuses, and I wouldn’t either, but people need to pay attention to what is going on around the guy before you say he fell apart.

Why the Supporting Cast Matters

Trust me when I say that I am not one to make excuses for poor play, and I don't think Wentz would be either. Simply pointing out these factors is a big part of the picture, though.

With so many veteran receivers out of the lineup, and Covid limiting offseason work with younger players, Wentz simply had no chemistry with the young fill-in players. That led to a lot of miscommunications on the field.

"Sometimes the way you are coached vs reality doesn’t match up, and some of these are choice routes where a rookie wideout breaks the wrong way and it makes the quarterback look like he is out of position." said Dedeaux. "He read the play right but the wideout broke the wrong way or had the wrong depth."

When a quarterback can't trust his receivers to be in the right spot, mechanics and timing tend to break down. It is hard to set the hallway or get proper sequencing on throws when the quarterback has no clue where the receivers are going to be.

"The comfort and confidence just wasn’t there. It got to the point where he was almost playing backyard football." said Dedeaux. "I can’t build steps into a drop where I can’t count on the timing being there."

As a result, Wentz had to change up a lot of his drops and sets due to uncertainty with his offensive line and receivers.

"I can tell you for certain that his drops changed throughout the year because there was so much uncertainty on his protection and where his receivers are going to be." said Dedeaux. "A lot of one-shuffle hitch because he doesn’t know when the ball is going to come out because these guys might break in at six (yards) when they are supposed to break at eight."

Pointing these aspects out aren't excuses but it does give evidence and reason behind why Wentz's footwork and timing were so off throughout last season.

"I have quite a bit of insight because I’ve talked to Carson (Wentz) about why his footwork became what it became, and why he wasn’t moving as straight." said Dedeaux. "I can tell you that some of that is on him but some of that absolutely is not on him."

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Some Film Examples

The Eagles had 30 drops last season on Wentz throws. Considering that he only played in 12 games, that number is quite high.

I cut up a few of these drops in the video below. Notice how a few of these would have been big plays, potentially touchdowns, that could have drastically changed the statistical outlook for Wentz. Also notice that each one of these drops come from a different player.

Looking at the offensive line wasn't much better. Back when I charted the Eagles' sacks from last year earlier in the offseason, I made note of the sacks that came under 3.0 seconds.

The clips below are sacks that I attributed to the offensive line being at fault and coming under 3.0 seconds. It is hard to make anything happen with pressure this quick and prevalent.

While these are just some examples of the supporting cast letting Wentz down, it certainly goes deeper than this. Wentz broke down mechanically last year but an inexperienced receiver group and poor offensive line are major contributing factors. Unfortunately, especially in a market like Philadelphia, it spirals and becomes the quarterbacks' fault.

"All of a sudden, it all gets put on the quarterback." said Dedeaux.

Final Thoughts

I just want to reiterate again that this in no way is making excuses for how Carson Wentz played in 2020. He struggled and a lot of the blame falls on him. Like Dedeaux said though, a lot of it also falls on the surrounding.

The Eagles were decimated by injury and Wentz struggled to elevated the inexperienced group around him. Dedeaux says it best here:

"There are some guys who transcend all of that. Some guys can’t though. You have to control what you can control and the supporting cast is a big part of what you can’t control."

The elite of the elite quarterbacks can transcend any situation around them. Truth is most quarterbacks can't, though. It is okay that Wentz may not be a quarterback who can transcend an awful situation.

What we have seen Wentz do in the past is play well when the situation is good, and he has that here in Indianapolis. 2020 was an awful year for Wentz and his mechanics, but his poor supporting cast was a big factor in that equation. Hopefully with a better group in 2021, we can see much better play.

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