Why the Giants’ defense will be a tough test for Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz

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By almost every indication, the are not a good football team. They’ve been outscored by 30 points. They’ve reached the end zone once. And they’re 0-2 — a record that is unlikely to improve in Week 3 when they head to Philadelphia to take on the .

The only indication that says otherwise is their defense, which has allowed 21.5 points per game — 18 points per game if you don’t punish them for a special teams blunder that led to That defense is the only reason why we shouldn’t write them off. That defense is the reason why could be in for a rough outing on Sunday, when his 1-1 Eagles host the otherwise down-and-out Giants.

To this point, Wentzare standing by vice-chairman Ed Woodward as he insists Paul Pogba is not for sale.Pogba sparked fresh uncertainty over his future on Sunday. He told reporters in Tokyo: “I am thinking of this: To have a new challenge somewhere else. After this seaso has been statistically solid through the first two games of the season — and an improvement from his (massively overrated) rookie year.

2016 Wentz

62.4

6.2

2.6

2.3

79.3

2017 Wentz

60.0

7.5

4.7

2.4

89.3

The Eagles will likely beat the Giants on Sunday because the Giants’ offense line is an explosive catastrophe straight out of a Michael Bay flick and the Eagles’ defensive front seven is basically an army of Transformers. Wentz is playing better than Manning. And as a unit, the Eagles’ offense is playing in a different stratosphere than the Giants’ offense, which says more about the Giants than the Eagles.

But in the process of what is likely to be a winning effort, Wentz might take his lumps. The Giants’ defense will present problems for Wentz.

Wentz: Lucky or good?

Again, to this point, Wentz has looked solid this season. In a season-opening win over the , he completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 307 yards, two touchdowns, one pick, and a 96.8 passer rating. Last week, in a loss to the in Kansas City, he completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 333 yards, two touchdowns, one pick, and an 83.0 passer rating. If Wentz can finish the year with a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio — after a rookie year that saw him throw only two more touchdowns than interceptions — he’ll have taken a sizable step in his development.

But the interceptions are coming — at least based on his game film from the first two games of the season. Wentz should have more than two interceptions. In Week 2, the Chiefs dropped a ton of easy picks.

The first dropped pick added more than 50 yards to Wentz’s stat line. Wentz can be forgiven for forcing a ball deep with barely any time remaining on the clock in the first half, but he can’t be forgiven for staring down his target for an eternity, which gave the defender the easiest read on the play. 

The only reason the throw below didn’t look like an interceptable pass is because Wentz’s receiver mugged the defensive back, who had position on the poorly thrown ball.

That would’ve been an interception if didn’t grab :

This would’ve been an interception if could catch the most catchable ball ever:

You get the point. The same thing happened in Week 1. Here’s one example:

There’s a reason why this is true:

It’s also true that every quarterback benefits from dropped interceptions. Wentz isn’t alone in that department, but he has been a luckier quarterback than most to this point in his career. 

Cian Fahey tracks a statistic called “interceptable passes,” which is exactly what it sounds like. As Fahey wrote for PreSnapReads.com, — or to put it another way, 5.11 percent of his passes were interceptable. Twenty-five quarterbacks were better at taking care of the football. The most alarming aspect of that stat, as Fahey noted, is that Wentz ranked 27th in average depth of target, which means he was throwing interceptable passes despite the fact that he hardly challenged defenses downfield.

That luck is eventually going to run out. It could run out against a dangerous Giants’ secondary.

Oh and just for the record, I don’t mean for this to be overly critical of Wentz. He’s played 18 games in his career. He can still get better. This isn’t meant to condemn him as a forever-bad quarterback. But he still has clear decision-making and accuracy problems. And those are the kind of problems a good defense can exploit.

The Giants’ defense will likely catch some of Wentz’s passes. They’re led by cornerbacks  and , and safety . Last year, that trio combined for 14 interceptions. As a team, the Giants snagged 17 picks — only three teams had more.

This year, they’ve failed to grab a single pick, but that’s has something to do with the fact that both the and refused to throw that much downfield. In Week 1, threw three of his 39 passes further than 20 yards downfield, though 10 of his passes did travel between 10-19 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, according to Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, in Week 2, pretty much refused to challenge the Giants’ shorthanded secondary, which was missing its most important cornerback in Jenkins. Stafford averaged 5.8 yards per attempt. The Lions knew the Giants offense sucked, so they didn’t do anything offensively to lose the game. It was a smart philosophy. And it worked.

Do not blame the Giants’ secondary for the team’s 0-2 start. They’ve been fine. And the interceptions could be coming. They just need to play a quarterback who’s more mistake prone. Enter: Wentz and his interceptable passes.

Still, the Giants will need Jenkins on Sunday. Jenkins is battling an ankle/hand injury. Last year, he allowed the seventh-lowest passer rating in coverage (64.8), according to PFF. The good news is that  That’ll help because it’ll mean the struggling will be asked to be in coverage less often,

Last season, the Giants’ defense allowed the second-fewest points and That’s not just because of the back end. It’s also because of the front seven, a group that’s led by , , and , who combined for 18 sacks last year.

Through two games this year, the Giants have only four sacks. Chalk that up to facing the Cowboys’ dominate offensive line. According to PFF, Stafford faced pressure on 10 of his 27 dropbacks — or 37 percent of the time. And the Giants got three sacks against the Lions. Stafford did well, though, to use his mobility to escape pressure, which is something Wentz is going to need to do. 

Wentz has the potential to make big plays outside the pocket and his offensive line has played awesome to this point, but he has struggled mightily under pressure so far.

Wentz’s game features good escapability, but it can sometimes include a lack of pocket awareness, which the Giants can exploit. Consider this: Wentz has been under pressure on just 34 percent of his dropbacks this season (which ranks in the middle of the pack), but he’s been sacked on 23.5 percent of his dropbacks (the ninth-highest sack rate in football).

One reason for that? Wentz loves holding oto bid for Hull City attacker Jarrod Bowen.The Daily Mail says the Foxes are weighing up a £15m bid for Bowen.The winger has scored 22 goals this season and has attracted plenty of attention from Premier League clubs, including from scouts at the Kinto the ball. According to PFF, Wentz has an average time of 2.99 seconds to throw the ball — the third-highest time to throw in football. On some of his sacks, the pass rush has been simply overbearing. And then there have been sacks like this:

In fairness to Wentz, he also does create a lot of nice plays by scrambling behind the line of scrimmage. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t work out. It goes both ways.

Pressure is going to be key in this game (as it is in every game).The Giants can get after him with Pierre-Paul and Vernon, and by blitzing. The thing about the Giants is — if Jenkins is available to play — their secondary is good enough to handle isolated single coverage. And the thing about Wentz is that he’s awful against the blitz, posting a 72.6 passer rating when blitzed this season, per PFF. He’s even worse under pressure. Under duress, Wentz has a 52.1 passer rating this year, per PFF. The Chiefs gave a live demonstration last week, blitzing Wentz 14 times and allowing four completions, 4.3 yards per attempt, and a 39.3 passer rating on those blitzes, according to PFF.

Dating back to last year, the Giants have blitzed 28.4 percent of the time, according to PFF. League average in that span is 30.1 percent. Upping that numlready close to securing the signature of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP, according to Sky Sports.The English outlet also reports that City will attempt to sign the 19-year-old attacker Felix this summer.He has managed 18 goals in 41 games in all cber might not be the worst idea if the Giants’ line is unable to penetrate. 

Wentz’s history against the Giants

The Giants, who are largely trotting out the same group of players, had their way with Wentz last year. In two meetings, they held Wentz to a 56.3 completion percentage, 7.3 yards per attempt, one touchdown, three picks, and a 66.4 passer rating. 

That was last year, though, when Wentz was still a rookie. That’s why this game is so intriguing. It’s still early in Wentz’s career, but the game can serve as a barometer of how much he’s improved. The simple statistics so far indicate that Wentz is playing better, but then again, Wentz started off hot last year before fading down the stretch. Will he struggle against a Giants team that knows how to punish bad quarterback play? 

Regardless of what happens, don’t write off Wentz or declare him as the NFL’s next great quarterback. It’s one game in what will probably be a lengthy career. 

The good news for Wentz? He’s almost guaranteed to outplay given the state of the Giants’ offense (bad).

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