Defiant Doug Pederson goes to bat for slumping Carson Wentz: ‘They aren’t layups’

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By RADIO.COM

If you’ve tuned into WIP in the past few days, you’ll know exactly where Eagles fans stand on Carson Wentz. Spoiler—they’re not happy.

And why should they be? Philadelphia’s $32-million-a-year franchise quarterback has not performed anywhere near expectations, tying for the NFL-lead with four interceptions in the early going. Among qualified starting quarterbacks, only Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins has submitted a worse passer rating (61.9) through the season’s first two weeks. It’s an admittedly small sample size, though Wentz’s listless performances against Washington (a team that finished 3-13 a year ago) and the Rams, who traveled 3,000 miles to stomp the Eagles in Week 2, can’t be ignored.

Some will point the finger at the Eagles’ injury-ravaged O line for not adequately protecting Wentz with others putting the onus on embattled GM Howie Roseman for not surrounding the gun-slinging 27-year-old with enough downfield talent (this would be an opportune time to remind the masses that 2019 second-rounder JJ Arcega-Whiteside has yet to catch a pass this season). But Wentz, now in his fifth season atop the Eagles’ QB pecking order, is well past the point of “growing pains” and “red flags.” The inconsistency he’s displayed (earning him unfavorable comparisons to the famously erratic Jameis Winston) may simply be the player Wentz is at this stage of his career.

Of course, that’s not what the Eagles envisioned when they traded up to draft Wentz second overall in 2016, then paid him a fortune while letting Super Bowl MVP and fan favorite Nick Foles walk out the door. Further complicating matters, Philadelphia went out and snagged last year’s Heisman runner-up Jalen Hurts in the second round of April’s draft, assuring that fans will flock to WIP phone lines, calling for a quarterback change any time Wentz falters.

Coach Doug Pederson, for one, is tired of critics questioning his star quarterback, as evidenced by his fiery response to a reporter who had the gall to ask why Wentz has missed so many “layups” this year. “Have you played quarterback in the National Football League?” snapped Pederson in defense of his slumping signal-caller. “They’re not layups. There ain’t a throw out here that’s a layup.”

While Pederson was quick to go to bat for his QB, the fifth-year coach and former Andy Reid protégé did acknowledge a few key areas Wentz can improve on heading into Sunday’s showdown with Cincinnati. “Some of it is timing with young guys. Some of it is Carson just not being accurate at that particular time,” said Pederson, explaining Wentz’s recent struggles. “It could be that there’s a defensive guy that flashed a hand where he has to change his arm angle at the split second. There’s all kinds of reasons for accuracy and these are things that we continue to work on and will continue to work on the entire season.”

Wentz is far from the Eagles’ only problem right now (the defense has barely shown a pulse of late). But Pederson can’t dodge reporters forever. Serving as an NFL starting quarterback is one of the toughest gigs in sports, but it’s what the Eagles are paying Wentz for and right now, he’s not doing a particularly good job of that assignment.

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