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Carson Wentz once again dominating on 3rd down

Eliot Shorr-Parks
September 10, 2019 - 8:29 am
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Now that quarterback Carson Wentz is in his fourth year in the NFL, it is starting to become clear when he is on his game and when he isn’t. 

The best indicator of what kind of game Wentz is having? How he is doing on third down. 

If Sunday’s win over the Washington Redskins is any indication, Wentz appears to be very, very locked in. 

As exciting as DeSean Jackson catching two long touchdown passes were, the true story from Sunday was how dominant Wentz was on third down. After a slow start, Wentz finished 12-of-13 for 197 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, no sacks and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. 

“Third down and red zone is something we always work on. A lot of teams give up on third-and-long and just take a screen,” Wentz said. “We’re going to just take what is there sometimes, but we’re going to try to push the ball down the field when we can and make plays. It was good to see that we were able to do that today.”

Wentz certainly did push the ball down the field on third down against Washington, and it wasn’t just on the two long Jackson touchdowns — both of which, of course, came on third down.  

One of Wentz’s best plays of the game came on 3rd-and-15 with just over 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter. With the Eagles holding onto a 29-20 lead, Wentz dropped back from his own 17-yard line only to find pressure up the middle. He rolled to his left, kept his eyes down the field and planted his feet to fire a rocket to tight end Zach Ertz for the first down. 

Later in the drive Wentz once again turned nothing into something, rolling to his left on 3rd-and-7 from the Washington 37-yard line to find receiver Alshon Jeffery for the first down. 

The two first-downs were key as they helped to fuel a drive that killed almost nine minutes off the clock and killed any chance Washington had of coming back. 

The early results from Wentz on third down were very reminiscent of what he did in 2017. 

In 2017, according to Sports Info Solutions, Wentz was easily the best quarterback in the league on third down, going 81/124 for 1,178 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions on third down. He was sacked just seven times in 131 drop backs. His 14 touchdowns on third down were the most in the league. The result was an Eagles’ offense that was 2nd in the NFL on third down, was able to control the clock and produce long scoring drives. 

Wentz’s production on third down took a major drop in 2018, when he went 53/93 for 586 yards and four touchdowns while being sacked 10 times in 103 drop backs. That is 10 fewer touchdowns on third down in just two fewer games. Needless to say, the Eagles’ third-down offense took a hit as well, as in 2018 they dropped all the way from 2nd in the NFL to 11th.  

It is still very early. The Eagles will face tougher opponents than Washington. That will be the case next Sunday when they face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night football. 

The early results for Wentz on third down, however, are very promising.

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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