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Despite Struggles, Rookie Carson Wentz Still Has Tools To Be An Issue


While the rookie quarterback has struggled recently, the Redskins will take experience from their previous game with the Eagles and take Wentz's talent seriously.

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry mentioned at his press conference on Thursday that, aside from statistics, it's consistency he values most when assessing his players. While that broad philosophy applies mostly in week-to-week analysis, Barry acknowledged that same consistency was on full display throughout the Redskins victory over the Eagles in October.

This was most easily visible in the way the defense created an unrelenting pass rush against Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who was sacked five times and only completed 11 passes for 179 yards. The Redskins defense ended up holding the offense to just two field goals and allowed  4-of-12 third down conversions, a stat that has been trending negatively in recent weeks.

"We played the run well, we rushed the quarterback well. I think when you do those things throughout the course of a ballgame, that's what you're looking for from a consistency standpoint.," Barry said. "So, it was a good day for us all the way around, and, you know, we didn't really do anything special. We just played hard. We made plays. When guys were in one-on-one situations, they cashed in and that's what it's all about."

That will seem to be the difference again facing Wentz, who has certainly matured since Week 6 but has also faced his fair share of struggles. The Redskins were fortunate to have faced a rookie right tackle, replacing a suspended Lane Johnson, but their pass rush should continue to be another area of opportunity as the Eagles have allowed 26 sacks this season.

"That's going to be paramount this Sunday, going against Carson Wentz – got to get pressure on him," linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "Our offense has played really well in those games as well, so hopefully our offense can keep rolling like they have been and we'll execute well."

Through the Eagles' first three games, Wentz accrued a 103.8 quarterback rating, throwing for 769 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. In nine games since then, his rating has fallen to 73.2, throwing for just seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Take a look at some key players for the Week 14 match up against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"They kind of had their little problems, but everybody does," linebacker Mason Foster said. "You've got to go out there and prepare like he's going to play at his highest level because he is. We're ready for whatever. He's a great athlete, he's got a great arm, so it's going to be tough, but we've just got to make more plays than they do."

One thing Washington managed well in October was keeping Wentz from attacking them on the ground, holding his scrambling ability to just two positive yards. In the last two games, however, Wentz has used his legs as more of a weapon.

He rushed for 33 yards against the Packers two weeks ago and ran for 16 yards against the Bengals last Sunday. Taking his range into account will be helpful for the secondary, which never prefers extra time covering a receiver down field.

"He's mobile. That creates problems," cornerback Josh Norman said. "I feel like when he can expand the play like that, it always creates a problem. So at the end of the day, you have to look at that and take that into consideration in your game and how you approach it."

"Any time you have an athletic quarterback that can extend plays, that can become very dangerous," defensive end Chris Baker said. "We're going have to do a very good job of containing hi and keeping him in the pocket, making him uncomfortable like we did in the last game."

Ideally, the Redskins will be able to make an impact in the turnover game, which has been a struggle in their previous two losses, as they didn't cause a fumble or interception against the Cowboys or Cardinals.

Wentz, meanwhile, has thrown six interceptions in the last three games – a product of forcing passes downfield to an inexperienced receiving core with the team trailing – and against the Bengals, Wentz threw a season-high 60 passes. That's a trend that Washington would like to continue.

"Whether it's a rookie or a veteran, to throw the ball 50, 60 times – you're going to make some mistakes," safety Donte Whitner said. "You're going to have some drops. You're going to have some picks. So I wouldn't say just because he's a rookie – I would say that any quarterback, if you can't run the football and you have to drop back 50, 60 times, it's probably not good for your offense. It's probably not good for your football team. So we want to do the same thing. We want to go out there, stop him, make him throw the ball each and every play if he has to. Our offense wants to put up points and make [Philadelphia] fight from behind. Hopefully that's how the game goes Sunday."

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