After watching the Philadelphia Eagles’ first two games there is a lot to take into account regarding their offense. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz is very good at what he’s been asked to do. The running game has been very solid ranking 10th in the league overall and the offensive line play has been pretty good too. As the Steelers install their defensive gameplan this week I think “patience” is a good word for them to start with and I’ve got a few reasons why.
First off, Wentz is near the bottom of the league in terms of yards per attempt at just 6.59. That means he’s getting rid of the ball pretty quickly after the snap and that’s by design. Most of his throws are coming off of first and second reads and with a young QB that’s usually what you want. Despite the quick trigger, he isn’t unattainable though to pass rushers because he’s been sacked four times through two games.
Keith Butler’s defense has been the epitome of “bend don’t break” so far this season. They’ve been very good against the run and while they’ve given up the second most passing yards in the NFL, they are giving up just 16 points per game. So how does Butler deal with an Eagles’ offense that runs the ball well and gets the ball out of the QBs hand quickly?
This is where the ‘patience’ comes in and also where the offense can help out too.
Butler’s charges will no doubt rely on the tried and true method of keeping plays in front of them to prevent big pass plays downfield. It’s worked so far through the first two games so I expect it to continue. Corners and safeties are going to have to be patient because I can see where they might want to jump routes. While they still might, they also know they have to be careful when doing so.
Pass rushers will also have to patient because the ball may often be gone before they ever get a chance to get to Wentz. How do you combat that? Get your arms up early and create tough throwing lanes and bat down some balls.
To this point, the Steelers have been more than willing to give up the middle of the field. We saw Andy Dalton and the Bengals exploit this at will Sunday I fully expect the Eagles to use a similar approach with running backs and tight ends. Will the Steelers adjust? Will they bring more zone blitzes in an effort to confuse the young quarterback? I think the answer to both of those questions “probably.”
Much of the defensive gameplan could be predicated on what the offense does. If the Steelers get out to a big lead that forces Philly to abandon the run and make Wentz throw the ball further downfield. Nevertheless, Butler will stress the importance of patience this week because he knows the Steelers traditionally have rookie quarterbacks for dessert. Expect that to be served with a heaping helping of ‘patience.’