Pederson trying to limit Wentz’s throws
PHILADELPHIA >> A newer-age baseball policy soon may be applied to Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz. Seems Doug Pederson would prefer to put his rookie quarterback on something of a pitch count.
A day after a 21-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the Birds’ coach volunteered his idea in a discussion about his running game. Sunday, the Birds executed 26 running plays and attempted 28 passes, a balance that Pederson thinks will work best for Wentz.
“I probably lean more towards not wanting Carson to throw the ball 35 times in a game or 40 times in a game,” the head coach said, in his regular NovaCare Complex press conference. “So I probably manage that one a little bit more than I do the run. I would lean more towards running the ball probably with the runners that we have.”
Sunday, Ryan Mathews had 14 carries for 56 yards. Darren Sproles (three carries), Wendell Smallwood (four) and Wentz (five) also ran the ball for a combined total of 101 yards.
“I don’t necessarily get into ‘Ryan has to have X amount of touches or Darren has to get X amount of touches,’” Pederson said. “I think by a committee, and collectively, they do a good job. We’ve been around that 100-yard mark each week so far and it’s been efficient.
“We weren’t as efficient necessarily running the ball for yards-per-attempt, but against a good defense we were still able to do some good things in the run game. We’re going to continue to do it. There are certain runs for certain running backs that we put in the game, but overall, it’s going to be sort of a running back by committee design.”
The larger or busier that committee, the less reason there will be for Wentz to throw passes. In his first pro game, Wentz threw 37 passes against the Cleveland Browns, then attempted 34 against Chicago, 31 against Pittsburgh and 33 against Detroit.
But two weeks ago, Wentz threw just 22 passes against the Redskins. He was 16-for28 against the Vikes for 138 yards and a touchdown.
That is more than a trend. It’s a budding policy that Pederson acknowledges is connected to his quarterback’s rookie status.
“It’s a little of both,” he said. “At this level, you say, ‘First of all, can he do that?’ Yeah, he can do that and we’re probably going to have to do that at some point this season, to throw the ball to win the game. I just feel like if we’re not being real efficient on first and second down, running the ball or with play-action passes, then you can expose your quarterback to more hits than you need to.”
Sam Bradford attempted 41 passes Sunday and was jolted 19 times. Six times, he was sacked. Twice, he fumbled.
Pederson does not want Wentz under that pressure … at least not so early in his career.
“Right now, we’re trying to build his confidence each and every week,” he said. “And I thought our guys did an outstanding job of not allowing a sack against a team that had 19 coming in. They protected him, kept him clean. And it just gives him confidence now and gives our whole unit confidence moving forward.”
Under Chip Kelly last season, Bradford and Mark Sanchez combined to average 39 passes per game. Through six games, Wentz is averaging just under 31 pass attempts. Though Wentz was intercepted once and fumbled twice, that minimized exposure to defenders, his coach believes, has value.
“Coming away from the game, even with the four turnovers and the negative plays that we had,” Pederson said, “we still had the ability to win that football game.”
A sight from Sunday’s win over the Vikings that Doug Pederson would like to see more of in the future: Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz handing the ball off to a running back, in this case, Darren Sproles. Pederson said Monday he hopes to not ask Wentz to throw too many times in a single game.