3 reasons why Carson Wentz will likely struggle vs Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz receives his first opportunity at revenge against the Philadelphia Eagles, facing the franchise that traded him away in 2020 and helped damage his reputation.

An NFL MVP candidate and face of the Eagles’ franchise a few years ago, things quickly went south in Philadelphia. The former No. 2 overall pick tuned out the coaching staff, lost the support of his teammates before he was shipped to the Indianapolis Colts with Jalen Hurts taking over and quickly winning over the fans.

Related: NFL agents shed light on Carson Wentz’s reputation among players

Wentz didn’t get a shot at revenge against the Eagles in 2021, but he knew that opportunity would come after being traded to Washington. Sunday will be his first game against his former team and there will be crowd support behind him at FedEx Field, even if many Philadelphia supporters make the trip for the Week 3 matchup.

Let’s examine three reasons why Carson Wentz might fall short of getting his revenge against the Eagles.

The revenge factor, confidence could work against Carson Wentz

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While the Eagles’ coaching staff is different than the one Wentz clashed with years ago, the front office is largely the same. The Commanders’ quarterback will also be opposite the quarterback who replaced him and is likely well aware of the NFL MVP buzz and adoration Hurts is receiving nationally and from the fan base as of late.

Related: 3 matchups to watch in Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington Commanders game

All of this could certainly provide Wentz with added motivation. Not only does he have an opportunity to push Washington to 2-1, but he can also prove his former team wrong. He isn’t even downplaying the emotions surrounding this matchup.

“I know there’s a lot going into it. There’s a lot of emotion. There’ll be a lot of things but trying not to let it be more than another game.”

Carson Wentz on facing the Philadelphia Eagles (H/T Ben Standig of The Athletic)

The problem is, emotion can also influence decision-making. During his years in Philadelphia, the organization grew tired of Wentz making the same mistakes. Even with a change of scenery, he played too recklessly at times and forced throws he had no business making. If a desire to get revenge against his former team dictates how he plays, Wentz risks costing Washington and there’s a real possibility for multiple turnovers.

Carson Wentz battling Eagles’ pass rush

Syndication: Detroit Free Press

The narrative of a revenge game extends beyond Carson Wentz. Eagles’ defenders faced him in practice for years without really ever getting the chance to hit him. A defensive front with Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox all want nothing more than to take down their former teammate on Sunday.

This is not a matchup in the Commanders’ favor. Entering Week 3, per ESPN, Graham boasts the ninth-highest pass rush win rate (25%) among edge rushers. On the interior, Milton Williams ranks eighth in pass-rush win rate (15%) among defensive tackles. Collectively, Philadelphia ranks 10th in team pass rush win rate (44%) and it recorded seven hits on Kirk Cousins in Week 2.

Philadelphia is going to bring the heat. Jonathan Gannon doesn’t have one of the highest blitz rates in the league among defensive coordinators, but he uses it extremely effectively as Bleeding Green Nation detailed. It doesn’t bode well for Wentz’s chances at success, especially if his wide receivers struggle to get open.

PFF grade Completion Rate YPA
Carson Wentz vs Pressure 45.1 (20th) 47.6% (15th) 3.9 (29th)
Carson Wentz vs Blitz 60.1 (24th) 60% (17th) 6.9 (12th)
Carson Wentz stats via Pro Football Focus

Philadelphia Eagles secondary could dictate Commanders’ offense

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one thing for a defense to know how to generate pressure. What makes Philadelphia so successful and what could prove to be the most problematic for Washington is the Eagles’ secondary. Darius Slay is an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and James Bradberry would be a No. 1 cornerback on a number of teams. Simply put, the cornerback room in Philadelphia is outstanding.

Slay, who has allowed just five receptions on 17 targets this season with a 25.2 passer rating surrendered (PFF) will lock down anyone who is lined up against him. Bradberry is almost just as good in coverage, holding opponents to 7.3 yards per reception with only four receptions allowed on 11 targets in 93 coverage snaps. Washington could focus more of its offense through the middle of the field and the slot, but the Eagles added linebacker Nakobe Dean and defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson for a reason.

Wentz is going to have limited options on Sunday, forced to attempt safer throws with reduced big-play opportunities to pass-catchers he trusts less or he’ll have to force it more to receivers in tight coverage. The veteran quarterback’s history suggests he’ll do the latter and with the emotions already coming into the game and the pass rush he is facing, it could all end badly.

This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.

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