The reason quarterbacks get paid so much money is that in a game with 22-people on the field, they have an outsized impact on the outcome of the game. And with that influence and money comes an awful lot of scrutiny.
So how would former NFL wide receiver Santana Moss grade the play of Washington Commanders' starting quarterback Carson Wentz through five games?
“He’s been average,” Moss told Kevin Sheehan this week. “I say that because when the times he has had good protection, he has gotten the ball to the right guy, you know, here and there.”
But average means there has been just as much bad as there has been good.
“Its a lot of times too, that even though the protection's not there and he gets the chance to get the ball out of his hands, some of those balls are high, some of them guys are wide open and some of the guys he just misses,” Moss told Team 980.
“And I think a lot of this is because of being shell-shocked a little bit,” Moss said. “When you’ve been hit as much as he’s been hit, it’s hard to sit back there and be comfortable and say I’m gonna let this thing fly.”
Moss based this on watching film of Wentz stepping up in the pocket against pressure and rather than setting his feet and throwing downfield to an open man over the middle, he ran.
“And he got four or five yards which that was good for that particular down, but he could’ve had so much more if he would’ve just been the quarterback that he was taught to be,” Moss said.
He added that anybody who has been hit as much as Wentz has will “hesitate” before doing what they want to do.
Moss noted that this is not all the quarterback’s fault, especially as the Commanders’ offensive line play has left a lot to be desired and limited Washington’s ability to run the type of plays they want to run.
Against Tennesee, the Commanders got crushed in the middle. In pass protection, all three interior linemen – left guard Andrew Norwell (39.4), center Nick Martin (25.8), and right guard Saahdiq Charles (35.8) – ranked in the bottom 30 among all linemen in that category, as graded by Pro Football Focus. Martin got the sixth-worst pass block grade in all of football.
Right tackle Cornelius Lucas (53.2) was only slightly better, he had the 52nd-worst pass-blocking grade out of 172 linemen. Charles Leno, on the other hand, was graded an 86.8, good enough for the sixth-best lineman for the week.
And through five games, the Washington offense has the 12th-worst PFF grade for pass blocking at 62.3.
But, Moss said, Wentz isn’t doing enough to make something happen behind a struggling offensive line.
“Don’t get me wrong, Carson has his times when he’s not playing his best, but for the most part he’s doing [just average],” Moss said. “But sometimes you gotta play over and beyond then just what’s going on.”
And Wentz has seen pressure on 34.9% of dropbacks, which is among the highest in football, but he isn’t handling the pressure well. He’s the 23rd-graded passer per PFF in those situations.
Here is where Moss's take holds up: Wentz doesn’t fair much better in a clean pocket, he grades out as 24th in football. Overall, it stands entering Thursday night's game, PFF grades Wentz as the 11th-worse passer in the league.
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