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Carson Wentz is focused on finding balance between aggressive and conservative

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Here's one thing we know about Carson Wentz as he prepares to lead the Washington Commanders' offense in 2022: he's never going to shy away from being aggressive. 

Not that it's been a bad choice for the quarterback as he enters his seventh season. Wentz was the seventh-best deep passer in the NFL last year, beating out Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers last season, according to Next Gen Stats. 

That ability to stretch the field is what Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner hope Wentz can inject into the Commanders' offense. It's a wrinkle that Washington sorely lacked in 2021, although that doesn't mean Wentz will be chucking bombs every play. 

It's a balancing act that Wentz is learning to master. 

"I'm always trying to learn and kind of find that fine line of...when to be aggressive, when to check it down," Wentz told reporters on Wednesday. "That's always something you're trying to learn."

Wentz's performance in making deep passes wasn't just one of the best in the NFL; it was one of the best in his career. He had a deep ball completion percentage of 43.4%, which was fourth among the 10 best deep passers, per Next Gen Stats.

Most of his criticism, however, came from his check downs and intermediate passes, and it's a fact that Wentz has not shied away from.

"There's plenty of times you get locked in on somebody and you're like, 'Shoot, I missed that one,' or, 'I forced that one,'" Wentz said. "And that's why I think throughout your career, you're always trying to learn."

Turner has heard about Wentz's proclivity to pass up shorter plays for shots downfield, but he also believes that all quarterbacks deal with on some level. They're all competitive, he said, and they feel like they can make the big plays.

"Whether you can or not, that really isn't important," Turner said. "It's just about making the right decision over and over again and not putting us in a tough situation."

Check out all the top shots of quarterback Carson Wentz during the Washington Commanders' first two weeks of OTAs. (Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)

Learning to do that starts with the play call and knowing what the offense is trying to accomplish on each play. Some plays offer the chance to move down the field with a chunk of yardage; others are meant to be screens, runs or quick passes.

That's why it's important, Wentz said, to take what's covered in film sessions and bring it to the field.

"You're not always trying to hit the home run," Wentz said. "Hopefully those small ones go for home runs, but you're trying to just ultimately win the game and there's a little chess match in there over and over and over throughout the game. And that's part of playing this position and understanding, when's the right time to strike."

The good news is that Wentz is making strides in learning the Commanders' system. He talks to his teammates in the huddle about certain aspects of each play, and he carries a high level of confidence in communicating the plays.

"You watch some of the confidence in which he steps into the huddle and calls the plays," Rivera said. "And I think is really good because his teammates will feed off of that confidence in the way he handles the huddle situations."

Turner wants Wentz to understand there's a time and place to take shots downfield, but also wants the quarterback to be himself. Wentz can add another dimension to Washington's offense, and the coaches believe he can help them take the unit forward.

For what it's worth, Wentz has been enthusiastic about learning Turner's philosophies, because they're both focused on the same thing: winning.

"I'm going to always be aggressive," Wentz said, "but there's always a fine line that I'm always trying to learn and navigate and just ultimately help get our team in the end zone."

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