There's no question that the biggest storyline coming out of Monday night's impressive win over the division-rival Washington Redskins was the play of quarterback Carson Wentz. The NFL leader in touchdown passes with 17 threw four against Washington, and became the first Eagle since 1953 to throw at least three touchdown passes in three straight weeks. He's the youngest passer to throw at least 17 touchdowns with only four interceptions or fewer to start a season since 23-year-old Dan Marino (a former teammate of Doug Pederson) did it in 1984.
The superlatives are flowing for the star quarterback, and for good reason. He's playing at an extremely high level. In Monday's performance, Wentz showcased all of the traits that make him the player who he is. His arm strength, accuracy, touch, poise, decision-making, and escapability were all put on display in front of a national audience. For this piece, let's look at all four of Wentz's touchdown drives in the game with some of the most impressive throws in each.
Mack Hollins Goes Vertical
Down 10-3 in the second quarter, Wentz was sacked on first down. One play later, he threw the longest touchdown pass in the NFL in the last two years (62.8 yards in the air).
Shot 1 - Wentz to Mack Hollins. 3-level stretch concept. Ball traveled 62.8 yards in the air (per @MattHarmon_BYB). Beat Quarters safety pic.twitter.com/mxwK85OO5P — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 24, 2017
Washington is in Quarters coverage (or Cover 4), with four defensive backs spread across the back end of the secondary, splitting the field into quadrants. The Eagles come out in a stacked set with Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins on top of each other before the snap. This alignment can immediately cloud responsibilities for Quarters defenders. With both receivers so tight together, a defender's eyes can easily get distracted, and that's exactly what happens here.
Safety D.J. Swearinger opens up his hips to the sideline to defend Hollins' vertical route. As Hollins slightly breaks toward the sideline, the defender throttles down for a split second. This gives Hollins the advantage as he breaks downfield. This throw from Wentz is something special. He hits Hollins on the run for the touchdown to tie the game up at 10.
Zach Ertz For Six
Tight end Zach Ertz's touchdown on the goal line begins with a big-time catch down the field.
Shot 2 - Great ball from Wentz here. Reads safety jumping shallow cross, throws Ertz open into the void. Great touch & poise vs blitz pic.twitter.com/wN1BjfB0UO — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 24, 2017
The Redskins bring a blitz off the corner on this play, and they get burned. Wentz drops a dime down the field to his trusty tight end, who is matched up on linebacker Mason Foster. The concept is a simple one. The Eagles call one of their staple pass concepts, Dagger, on the back side. To the left, Alshon Jeffery runs a shallow crossing route. When the safety to that side jumps Jeffery's route that, paired with the blitz, sets off bells and whistles for Wentz. He knows he'll have a huge void down the field for Ertz in a favorable matchup, and he makes a "spot" throw, delivering a beautiful touch pass into an area for his receiver to run into for a first down. A few plays later, the big play will pay off with a trip into the end zone.
Shot 3 - Ertz TD off rub concept starts w/ great communication from entire O. 2 players in motion, everyone had to stop pre-snap. Saves play pic.twitter.com/vZx7q56IEh — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 24, 2017
This is a simple "rub" concept for Ertz, who runs for the front pylon, directly underneath a slant route from the outside. The defender over Ertz has no chance to make this play on the ball, and Ertz makes Swearinger miss along the sideline as he walks into the end zone.
One of my favorite parts of this play happened long before the snap. Go back to the beginning, Ertz and LeGarrette Blount both try to go in motion before the snap. Wentz, Torrey Smith, and the rest of the offense all realize they're about to commit a penalty. If the ball is snapped with both players in motion, flags will blow the play dead. No one panics. The players get set for a full second, and the play goes off as planned. Things weren't always perfect for this Eagles team early in the game, but they bounced back from adversity really well. Coming off a long break, some rust was to be expected, but this was a great example of the focus and confidence needed to execute down on the goal line.
Corey Clement's Jump Ball
Corey Clement became the first Eagles rookie running back to catch a touchdown pass since 1989. It just so happens that the drive began with an unfortunate occurrence, as left tackle Jason Peters went down with a knee injury early in the drive. Halapoulivaati Vaitai entered the game, and the offense kept on churning.
Shot 4 - First play w/o Peters on the field. Quick play-action slant to Agholor. Wentz is so good on these quick-hitting in-breakers #Eagles pic.twitter.com/9gXLgl3oNN — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 24, 2017
This is the very first play without Peters. The Eagles call a quick play-action pass for Wentz, who hits Nelson Agholor on a slant route. The Eagles actually ran play-action on both of their first two plays with Vaitai in the game, which I thought was a smart way to get him into the flow of the game on short notice. Wentz is so good on these types of throws, whether they're on play-action or off a Run Pass Option concept. Wentz's quick trigger and ability to put the ball on a receiver's pads in stride really makes these plays very effective. Wentz hits Agholor for a first down in a void created by the run-action in the backfield.
Shot 5 - Great concept to get Ertz isolated 1v1; even better route by him. Wentz holds safety in MOF with his eyes before pulling trigger pic.twitter.com/VtmEAodwaU — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 24, 2017
A few plays later, Wentz went back to Ertz for a big gain out of a 12-personnel set. With two tight ends on the field to the same side, Washington uses the safety, Swearinger, over Ertz, and the tight end runs an outstanding route. Ertz breaks outside, then sticks his foot in the ground and goes inside, crossing Swearinger's face to create separation against man coverage.
Veteran Brent Celek runs an over route across the deep middle, holding the attention of the underneath linebacker and deep safety. This isolates Ertz on Swearinger in space, and all Wentz has to do is make sure he beats that safety over the top. With Celek's route along with Wentz's eyes early in the play, the safety is taken care of, and Ertz is open for the first down. Wentz drives a strike right into his chest for the big play to put the Eagles in the low red zone.
Shot 6 - Clement TD initially designed to go to Ertz. Wentz climbs pocket, protects football (2 handed monster!) and delivers under pressure pic.twitter.com/rnFmC5MJzY — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 24, 2017
Wentz wants to go back to Ertz for a touchdown soon after, but Swearinger is ready this time. He sits on this in-breaking route and forces Wentz to eat the throw. Pressure comes at Wentz from multiple angles, and the pocket collapses on him. Watch Wentz step up in the pocket, protecting the football with both hands to keep it away from nosy pass rushers. He's about to take a huge hit right in his chest. Wentz knows, however, that he has the running back, Corey Clement, leaking out of the backfield to the right. While stepping up to avoid the pressure, Wentz processes that his targets over the middle are taken away, so he throws a perfect jump ball to his receiver, and Clement makes a great play for a touchdown.
Nelson Agholor's Game-Clincher
Wentz made a few ridiculous plays ahead of his final touchdown throw to Nelson Agholor. This 17-yard scramble is at the top of the list.
Shot 7 - Carson Wentz. What....where....how??? I have no idea.
The Redskins are in man coverage behind this blitz, as they send five defenders after Wentz. The pocket dismantles all around Wentz, and as the rush closes in on him, he ducks into a crowd. Everyone in the stadium and across the country thought it was a sack ... and then it wasn't. The elusive quarterback sprung free and took off for a 17-yard run and a first down in one of the highlights of the year.
Shortly afterward, Wentz throws a really nice fade to Jeffery on the left sideline where only his man can get it. Jeffery goes up and plucks this ball out of the air and makes his way down the sideline for a first down.
Here's another first down catch for Ertz, who runs a great route here against Swearinger once again. Ertz wins off the ball and makes himself available to Wentz off of play-action, and the tight end brings in the pass for the first down.
Shot 10 - Wentz's final TD a great ball to Agholor. Great scheme to get him into the void vs Cover 3. Wentz makes second-window throw pic.twitter.com/3lvcMrTB8U — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 24, 2017
Another play-action throw on the drive led to a touchdown, this time to Agholor. The Redskins are in Cover 3, and the Eagles make the perfect play call against Cover 3. Ertz is lined up as the No. 3 receiver. He's going to run an in-breaking route, which is meant to hold the post safety in the middle of the field. Torrey Smith holds the outside cornerback to that side. That leaves a void for Nelson Agholor in the slot. As long as both defensive backs are held by the receivers, Wentz is almost in good shape. The only thing he needs to do is make sure any underneath defenders don't pick this pass off. Wentz has a close eye on the underneath defender, and he waits for Agholor to clear him, as he makes a second-window throw for a touchdown. Wentz had an outstanding performance against the Redskins, one that can serve as a signature moment for him as he continues to progress in his career.
Fran Duffy is the producer of "Eagles Game Plan" which can be seen on Saturdays during the season. Be sure to also check out the "Eagle Eye In The Sky" podcast on the Philadelphia Eagles podcast channel on iTunes. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University Football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices and opponents.