Great news everyone — on Monday, for the first time since he left the field against Seattle in the Eagles’ playoff loss all the way back in January, we are going to get to see Carson Wentz throw a football.
No matter what side you fall on in the never-ending Wentz debate, that is exciting news. Football is back.
The beginning of training camp is without question my favorite time of year. It gives us a chance to get the first real look at what the Eagles will be that season. I love training camp so much, that since Wentz’s rookie year, I have tracked every throw Wentz has made in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 sessions during training camp. Yes, all 947 of them.
With four years of data, one thing has become pretty clear — in Wentz’s career the player he has been in the training camp leading up to the season has been the player he ended up being that year.
In 2016, Wentz showed more than enough in limited reps during training camp to win the starting job as a rookie. He would go on to have an impressive rookie year, helping the team win more games than they were expected to.
In 2017, Wentz was electric throughout camp and dominated the Miami Dolphins when they came in for a joint-practice. We all remember how he played that season.
In 2018 and 2019 training camps, Wentz was solid, but not quite as good as he was in 2017 — which is essentially what he has been on the field during the regular season as well.
The numbers back that up.
Here is what his stats have been throughout his Eagles’ training camp career:
The only real outlier in terms of what Wentz did in training camp vs. what he did in regular season are the nine interceptions he threw last year in camp. Nine interceptions is high for training camp, especially considering how often the ball is checked down, and it seemed to be a bit of a red flag heading into the regular season. Wentz, however, did a great job — as he has done since 2017 — of not turning the ball over, finishing with just seven interceptions last year. Wentz and the offense also struggled a little bit in the red zone last year in training camp, which is why his touchdown total was lower than 2017. Red zone offense ended up not being an issue for Wentz in 2019, as the offense finished 8th overall and he was outstanding inside the 20.
To take it a step further, I decided to try to calculate what Wentz’s passer rating would have been in each year in training camp.
The tough part of doing this was coming up with his yards. I initially just used 2,000 for each year, but that didn’t work since his attempts were far lower in 2016 and 2018. I landed on using Wentz’s career average for yards-per-attempt of 6.9 yards. So for 2019, for example, I gave Wentz 2,227 yards (330 attempts x 6.9 YPA)
Using that formula for yards, and then the other training camp stats (attempts, completions, touchdowns, interceptions) I have tracked, here is what I came up with:
If you had to rank Wentz’s seasons, I think you would come up with something pretty close to that — 2017 was his best season, 2016 he showed a ton of promise as a rookie, with the last two a mixture of extreme highs and lows. You could argue 2019 over 2016, and I wouldn’t fight you on it, but overall, everyone would likely agree 2017 was his best, 2018 was his worst and the other two are in the middle. The training camp stats back that up.
So what are some indicators of what a good training camp for Wentz would be in 2020?
The first, and best, indicator is attempts since that is the best indication of how much work Wentz is getting.
Last year it took Wentz 13 practices with live reps to get to those 330 attempts. That seems to be the golden number in terms of the reps the team wants from him, considering the two years he has been healthy and without limitations — 2017 and 2019 — he has hit exactly that number.
The Eagles should be able to get in close to that amount between the start of practice Monday and the final day of cuts on September 5th. Last year it took Wentz 13 practices with live reps to get to 330 attempts, an average of 25.3 throws per day. Head coach Doug Pederson made it pretty clear on Friday in an interview on 94WIP that getting the starters the reps they need to prepare for the regular season will be the top priority. The Eagles, with three weeks of practice ahead, should be able to get Wentz right around that 330 mark.
Based off of the last four years, if Wentz can get to around 330 attempts, a great training camp from Wentz would look something like this — 66-68% completion percentage, 28-plus touchdowns and 5-or-less interceptions.
In three weeks, when training camp ends and the charting is over, that is what Eagles fans should hope to see.