Philadelphia Eagles’ success due to Carson Wentz’s brilliance on third down

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 08: Head coach Doug Pederson talks with quarterback Carson Wentz
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 08: Head coach Doug Pederson talks with quarterback Carson Wentz /

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is turning a lot of heads these days, thanks, in part, to how he plays on the game’s most important down.

What a difference a year makes. You can’t seem to find any fan of the Philadelphia Eagles who’s down in the dumps, and it’s for a couple of specific reasons. One reason is because their quarterback, Carson Wentz, is the guy we all thought he’d be. Another is because we can now say every time the Eagles take the field for an NFL game, they’ve got a shot to win.

To make things simple, let’s put it this way. Carson Wentz is the man. You already know that though. Let’s examine his growth a little more closely.

Here are some numbers:

A ton of that is attributable to how their quarterback plays in key situations. It’s been long said that winning in the NFL happens when you win on third down. Last year they didn’t. They had a rookie quarterback, receivers who couldn’t catch and they never seemed to keep drives going. They converted just under 38 percent of their third down opportunities.

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Carson Wentz had a quarterback rating of 67 on third down and a grand total of three touchdowns.

In the first five games of the 2017 season, this team has improved on third down conversions. They’ve added better weapons around their young signal caller. He’s a year older. They’ve converted almost 54 percent of their third down attempts.

From then to now:

Wentz threw three touchdowns on third down a season ago. He completed three touchdown passes on third down this past Sunday. Improvement? We can all agree that there has been.

Keep this in mind. Right tackle Lane Johnson didn’t play. Philly’s coaching staff, again, chose to ignore LeGarrette Blount for long stretches of time. Wendell Smallwood was out, and one of those third down attempts was a draw play to newly-added Kenjon Barner that almost hit the target as well. If he had converted, we’d be discussing an even larger third down conversion percentage.

Next: Eagles roundup: Lane Johnson update, Fletcher Cox, injuries

That doesn’t affect Wentz’s numbers, but you get the idea. The top quarterback on the Eagles depth chart said it best. “We’ve emphasized [getting better at] situational football since the spring. Situational football is huge. That’s what separates good teams.” Again, Wentz is the man.