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Despite Loss, a Silver Lining For Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ Offense

The Philadelphia Eagles passing attack was better on Sunday, but they reverted to what they did early in the season.

After struggling to open the year, the Eagles found life last Sunday in San Francisco by making Carson Wentz more of a threat out of the pocket. As I discussed with former Eagles president Joe Banner, the Eagles have become slightly fixated on making sure they protect Wentz behind a shaky offensive line. This includes keeping him in the pocket and limiting his rushing attempts. In their first two games, Wentz only had three rushes for 9 yards and his lone red-zone rushing attempt was on a sneak for a touchdown while trailing the Rams by 18. Wentz also did not attempt any RPOs in the first two weeks of the season. In Weeks 3 and 4, Wentz rushed for over 100 combined yards with a TD in each game. He rushed on four RPO plays in that span for 25 yards. Against Pittsburgh on Sunday, Wentz only had four rushing attempts for 11 yards, with only one red-zone rush. His lone RPO attempt went for 4 yards near midfield.

The Eagles passing game has taken on multiple identities in the first few weeks of the season as well. With a full complement of weapons in Week 1, Wentz took multiple downfield attempts from the pocket, and the Eagles only designed one QB rollout — a short, 12-yard completion to TE Dallas Goedert. In Week 2, Wentz only rolled out twice. The Eagles shifted their game plan in Week 4 against the 49ers, rolling out Wentz eight times. He was 5 of 6 for 43 yards and added a 4-yard scramble and a sack. Facing a formidable Pittsburgh pass rush in Week 5, the Eagles again reverted to keeping Wentz in the pocket, with his only rollout coming on a successful two-point conversion.

The Eagles have also become very cognizant of the lack of weapons at Wentz’s disposal. Up until Sunday at Pittsburgh, Wentz’s average depth of target (ADOT) had decreased each week, with an offense being designed to get the ball out quickly. Production and efficiency from his receivers had increased because of this.

Against Pittsburgh, the Eagles again returned to a deeper passing game. If there is one silver lining in their loss on Sunday, it is the emergence of Lions and Packers castoff Travis Fulgham, who had 10 catches for 152 yards and 1 TD. He provided Wentz the vertical threat that had been missing since Week 1.

For more from Joe Banner, check out his weekly column in the Philadelphia Inquirer.