Carson Wentz Impressive in NFL Debut
Carson Wentz saw his first NFL action on Thursday night.
Wentz who was not expected to play until the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came in at the end of the first half in order to work a two minute drill.
As Wentz jogged onto the field, he received a standing ovation from Eagles fans at Lincoln Financial Field and his presence immediately electrified the crowd.
Prior to Wentz's presence, the atmosphere is pretty much what you would expect out of a preseason game. But the fans clearly were there to see Wentz.
The Eagles opened up the second half with Wentz at the helm and a couple of run plays and after a completed short pass on 3rd and long, the Eagles were forced to punt.
The second drive of the second half is where Wentz showed his true colors. Wentz showed his ability to evade tacklers and rush to gain yards while also showing an ability to throw on the run. A few of Wentz's passes were a bit high which is apparently consistent with passes that Wentz has thrown throughout training camp.
One of the very impressive plays on the drive though was a low snap that got past Wentz. Wentz who was in the shotgun, watched the ball roll past him. Wentz sprinted back and scooped up the football on his feet, scrambled to his right to try and make a play and ultimately just threw it away.
A few things stood out to me about that play though. First off, it was a great job by Wentz to run back and scoop up the ball. If Wentz was unable to field the ball cleanly, he likely would have been criticized for not just falling on top of the football. But he was able to pick it up and get away from pressure. He looked downfield trying to make a play but rather than trying to force in a pass, he was smart enough to just throw it to the sidelines.
Later in the drive, Wentz with the pocket collapsing on 3rd and short threw a pass over the middle that was caught but then fumbled by the receiver. Wentz was bailed out though by a roughing the passer call giving the former North Dakota State Bison a fresh set of downs.
Unfortunately, on the very next play, which originated inside the redzone, the pocket once again collapsed on Wentz and rather than taking a sack, he threw it across the middle too high right into the hands of a defender for an interception.
Despite the drive ending in an interception, Wentz showed his athleticism including a play earlier in the drive where he rolled right, saw no receivers open and ran for 9 yards before smartly sliding down to avoid a big hit.
Generally his throws were accurate but a bit high and his decision making was pretty good. He knew when to throw it away but also proved the ability to thread the needle and throw the ball right on the money.
Fans were very happy with what they saw from Wentz and that says a lot. Philadelphia fans are not an easy fanbase to win over.
Throughout the rest of the second half Wentz continued to show off his ability to outrun defensive ends and make smart throws.
Wentz was clearly being very hard on himself. It is easy to nitpick the entire performance but for someone playing in his first NFL game coming out of an FCS school, it was a very good showing for the rookie.
It is possible that Wentz at times was trying to do a little too much and he certainly has some things to work on. Wentz took a lot of hits showing no fear of staying in the pocket. On the broadcast, the sideline reporter mentioned that he got hit a lot. Answering the question of how he felt Wentz said, "I feel great."
In analyzing his performance overall he said he had a lot of fun, and there's a lot of learning to do. On the interception he said he was waiting for the receiver to break, he got hit as he threw, and he sailed the pass. He admitted it was unacceptable in the redzone but said it is something to learn from.
Wentz was removed from the game with under 5 minutes left to go in the game. Wentz finished completing 12 of 24 passes for 89 yards and the interception. Wentz did not throw a touchdown.