Wentz, Eagles offense face stiff test in aggressive Steelers defense

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers
Carson Wentz and the Eagles will look to make it two wins in a row against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Despite their heinous start to the 2020 season, the Philadelphia Eagles have found themselves in the driver’s seat after pulling off their first win of the season last week against a shorthanded San Francisco 49ers squad.

The slight reprieve allowed them to get in the win column — which likely should have come earlier with games against Washington (loss) and the Cincinnati Bengals (tie) — but things are about to get much tougher.

The battle of Pennsylvania has the Eagles hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 3-0 to start the season, but they haven’t been all too convincing throughout the process, squeaking by the lowly New York Giants and Denver Broncos in the process.

Mike Tomlin and veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have had plenty of time to prepare for Philadelphia, though, as their game last week against the Tennessee Titans was postponed due to their COVID-19 outbreak, which is still causing issues heading into Week 5.

Rather than treat it like a bye week, the Steelers practiced throughout the week prepping for the Eagles, who have looked like a shell of their former selves this season.

Much of that has to do with the inconsistencies and struggles of Carson Wentz, who had one of his more efficient days against the 49ers last week, but still was picked off for a fourth-straight game, his seventh on the season.

He posted seven interceptions all of last season.

Whether it’s rushing his decisions or not properly reading defenses because he’s playing behind a struggling offensive line, the Steelers are going to throw everything they have at Wentz.

Pittsburgh is one of the most aggressive teams in the NFL when it comes to blitzing, going all-out for the quarterback on over 60% of their play calls through the first two weeks of the season.

One should expect that strategy to continue considering just how rattled Wentz has looked at times throughout the season and just how bad his pass protectors have been.

That being said, there is an avenue for Wentz to have a big day despite the impending pressure — and a lot of it relies on head coach Doug Pederson.

The Eagles are an above-average short-passing team, which comes with the territory of predicting your offense through hastily getting rid of the ball out of the quarterback’s hands with a lack of legitimate outside targets available downfield.

Because the Steelers blitz so often, it constantly leaves their secondary out to dry, especially if they’re playing man-to-man defense. That should be an open invitation for the Eagles to get a lot of free yards, but a dink-and-dump kind of offense might not be enough to keep up with the Steelers’ offense, which is averaging just under 27 points per game this season.


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