April 13, 2021

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Seahawks at Eagles: Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson…

7 min read
Seahawks at Eagles: Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson...

The Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks have trended in different directions since Seattle’s 17-9 road win against Philadelphia in Week 12.

The Eagles went 4-1 down the stretch to finish 9-7 and capture the NFC East while the Seahawks (11-5) dropped three of their final four, forcing them to hit the road for the first round of the postseason.

That has set up Sunday’s wild-card playoff game between the Eagles and Seahawks (4:40 p.m. ET, NBC) at Lincoln Financial Field. What has changed since their meeting on Nov. 24? And how have multiple injuries affected this matchup?

ESPN Eagles reporter Tim McManus and Seahawks reporter Brady Henderson exchanged emails this week to find out:

What’s up, Brady? First, want to ask you about the quarterback. Seattle’s Russell Wilson was a hot MVP candidate and then cooled down the stretch (as my fizzled-out fantasy team can attest). What happened?

The pace Wilson was on over the first half of the season (1,983 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns) seemed difficult to sustain, and the dip in his numbers has to be at least somewhat related to wide receiver Tyler Lockett‘s health.

They both took a turn around the same time. Lockett hurt his leg late in the Seahawks’ overtime victory against the 49ers in Week 10, and while he didn’t miss any games, he wasn’t the same for several weeks (he was also dealing with the flu).

It also didn’t help that Seattle faced a handful of defenses in the second half that are good at getting after the quarterback, including the Eagles in Week 12, when they sacked Wilson a season-high six times.

Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz seems to have stepped up his game since that first meeting. How has he done it?

For sure. He has thrown 10 TDs to one interception since Week 12 and is playing about the best ball of his career, especially when you consider that, thanks to a rash of injuries, he’s working with five skill-position players who spent part of this season on the practice squad.

Eagles coaches are catering to Wentz’s strengths more. Since Week 12, Wentz is averaging 6.6 attempts per game and 8.0 yards per pass attempt outside the pocket, up from 3.6 attempts per game and 7.0 yards per attempt in his first 11 games. Philadelphia is heavily utilizing play-action, getting Wentz on the move more and running a lot of up-tempo. He’s thinking less, playing faster and, as a result, is back to his playmaking self.

The Eagles had the easiest closing schedule in the NFL, which needs to be considered when assessing the quarterback’s surge and the team’s recent success. And the Seahawks’ defense has given Wentz fits in his three matchups against them — all Eagles losses. But there’s no question he has elevated his game and is a dangerous quarterback right now.

Is Jadeveon Clowney healthy? What kind of defense will Wentz be going up against?


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