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June 10, 2018

Mailbag: Will Carson Wentz's knee make Doug Pederson less aggressive on fourth down?

In our weekly Eagles chat on Friday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Artie: It’s common knowledge by now that Doug Pederson and the Eagles’ offense has had much success on 4th down. What might not be known is most of the success (probably half of the 4th down conversions) were on Carson Wentz sneaks behind Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks. Do you believe now that Pederson will still be willing to call QB sneaks, given Wentz’s injury.

Seven of the Eagles’ 20 successful 4th down conversions (more like a third as opposed to half) last year were indeed on QB sneaks with Wentz. They were a perfect 7 for 7 on 4th down QB sneak attempts. It’s certainly a fair question to ask if he can be as effective at them as he has been over the first two seasons of his career. 

QB sneaks take quickness, power, and savvy. It’s an underrated skill to have as a quarterback. I don’t think Pederson will shy away from calling them. It’s more a matter of, will Wentz still be as good at them while perhaps not having the same mobility and strength in his left leg as he is used to.

Question from Noah: What is the latest on Michael Bennett’s legal issues?

Nothing new, as far as I know. The Eagles have a mandatory three-day minicamp beginning on Tuesday, and Bennett will surely be there. He’s going to get his first taste of a 50-deep Eagles media mob around his locker. So, perhaps he’ll provide an update at that time (doubtful). He’s also certain to be asked about the White House disinvitation, and why he missed OTAs.

Question from Taco J: Even though Jordan Mailata won’t be seeing snaps as a lineman, I find it unlikely that Doug can’t find a way to use him creatively. And I think he would benefit the team this season as a punishing mauler in goal line situations. Those can’t be that hard to teach to our Aussie, right Jimmy?

Oh, yes they can. There is a lot of technique in almost everything an offensive lineman does. Telling a 6’8, 340 guy with athleticism to just go move the guy across from him off the line scrimmage sounds easy, but it takes a lot more than that. You have to maintain good leverage, balance, footwork, hand fighting, etc.

I’ve watched him a bit in practice, and he has a loooooong way to go. Rookie DE Josh Sweat was eating him alive one day, and Sweat doesn’t figure to play much his rookie season either. I would even go as far to say that if the preseason were to start today, I wouldn’t have him in there unless Joe Callahan were in at quarterback.

To note, it’s very much to be expected that Mailata has a long way to go. He just discovered the sport. But I can say with 99.99 percent certainty that he isn’t seeing the field in 2018, unless it’s some kind of meaningless game like the Eagles-Cowboys Week 17 game last year.

Question from nceagles: I know Kendricks had an inflated contract, but if the Eagles couldn't get anything for him, why would they expect to get something for Isaac Seumalo after the way he played last year?

Nobody wanted Kendricks because of his inflated contract, as you mentioned. Seumalo, on the other hand, is still on his rookie contract, with a $854,966 cap figure in 2018. Beyond that:

  1. Offensive linemen are more important than linebackers (excluding 3-4 OLBs).
  2. Seumalo is also just a third year player who has been asked to play five different positions in the NFL so far. As you noted, his 2017 was bad, but his rookie season was encouraging.
  3. Every single team in the NFL (with perhaps the exception of the Eagles) need added help along their offensive lines, whether that be at one of the interior starting spots, or depth.

Keep in mind that the Eagles got a 5th round pick for Matt Tobin last year (the Eagles also had to throw in a 7). That should tell you how depleted some teams are along their OL.

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