To make it very clear for everyone, the 16 turnovers committed by quarterback Carson Wentz through eight games are, to everyone in the football chain of command with the Eagles, unacceptable. But instead of wailing about what's gone wrong with a quarterback who has uncharacteristically thrown 12 interceptions, Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Press Taylor is actively working to remedy the situation.
And he's optimistic that in the final eight games of this regular season, Wentz will improve in every phase of his game because, in addition to the turnovers, he's held the football too long at times and has taken sacks he should not have taken and he's missed some open receivers. The first eight games were an uncharacteristic struggle for Wentz and this Eagles offense.
"It's obviously disappointing that that's happened. That's something he's well aware of is not acceptable around here," Taylor said on Tuesday in a teleconference with Eagles reporters. "It's something we're very confident that he'll be able to clean up as we go into these next eight games, the second half of the season. He is very aware of it – that that's not what we expect around here. That's not what we preach around here and it's something we are excited to see going forward how we play the second half of the season.
"I don't know that there's necessarily one certain thing that I put my finger on and say this is our No. 1 issue. If that were the case, we would certainly get that corrected right away. Now there are a number of things that we kind of uncovered. We all kind of believe is something we can clean up and improve ourselves moving forward. But the biggest issue has been our turnovers. The turnovers lead to less plays, lead to less opportunities, lead to less points, and so that's really our No. 1 focus is cleaning up the turnover ratio that we've had. And again, we are really excited about where we are going to go this second half of the season and we think we are on the right track in terms of identifying that and correcting that moving forward."
So, how do the Eagles correct it? How does Wentz approach the second half of the season, starting Sunday at the New York Giants – a team against which he threw for 357 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception on October 22? Wentz has said over and over that he wants to remain aggressive, and Taylor backs up that philosophy. The Eagles are going to take their shots. They are testing the vertical passing game every week. Wentz is going to have that gunslinger mentality, one that has served the Eagles well in his four-plus seasons here.
Wentz in the third and fourth quarter in games this season, it's been like night and day. He's brilliant. He improvises when necessary. He gets the ball out fast and accurately. The Eagles sometimes use "tempo" offense and Wentz and the offense come alive.
"I think kind of the urgency picks up, so the tempo picks up and that's something we have always talked about around here. We really feel like we thrive as an offense and he thrives as a quarterback when we get into these tempo situations," Taylor said. "A lot of that starts on your what we call P-and-10, the first play of the possession, having positive yards, being able to move forward and converting that first, first down, whether it's the first down turns into a first down, a second down, a third down, whatever it is, get in that rhythm, put the defense on their heels and being able to attack a little bit more with that mindset.
"Then again, that's kind of his aggressive nature when it's kind of those crunch-time situations and the ball has to be pushed down the field, he does a good job of that. Our guys do a good job of playing with that certain urgency and making plays down the field. It's really everybody making plays in those type of situations. You say the quarterback stepped up and did a good job in the third and fourth when we needed it, but the line has done a good job in those situations and our receivers have a sense of urgency and have risen to the challenges and made plays when they needed to."
At the same time, it's important – no, necessary – that Wentz cuts down on the giveaways. The Eagles aren't going to be able to overcome them against the better teams on their schedule in the second half of this regular season.
We'll see starting on Sunday. The coaching staff has harped since Day 1 the importance on ball security. Wentz knows the deal. He knows the turnovers are killers.
It has to stop. The Eagles are confident it will and that in this second half of 2020, we will see the Wentz who is the franchise quarterback, keeper of the football, leader of winning games for a team with an aim at the NFL's postseason.