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Wentz hasn’t been the same since Eagles last faced Seattle

PHILADELPHIA - Carson Wentz didn’t finish the game the last time he faced the Seattle Seahawks because of a concussion.

His troubles have only grown worse.

It reached the point that coach Doug Pederson hesitated when asked if Wentz or rookie Jalen Hurts would start when the Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1) host the Seahawks (7-3) on Monday night.

“He’s my starter, end of story,” Pederson eventually said to reporters. “You guys can blow it up however you want it and that’s fine. I’m focused on this team, these players, this coaching staff and the Seattle Seahawks.”

Wentz was outstanding down the stretch last year, completing 67.6% of his passes for 1,199 yards, seven TDs and no interceptions in four games. But he lasted only nine snaps before Jadeveon Clowney knocked him out with a shot to the head. The Seahawks won, 17-9.

Wentz hasn’t been the same since that hit. He leads the NFL with 18 turnovers, including 14 interceptions, and has career lows in completion percentage (58.4) and passer rating (73.3).

But Wentz hasn’t had much help. Injuries have forced the Eagles to use 12 players on the offensive line, including 10 different starters. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, running back Miles Sanders and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery have missed significant time. Wentz is too often throwing to inexperienced receivers who aren’t always running the correct routes.

“I’ve gone back and looked at ’17 and ’18 tape, our coaching staff has, I know he has,” Pederson said, referring to when Wentz finished third in NFL MVP voting in 2017. “We’ve looked at everything from play calling, me, am I different? Am I using personnel right? Am I making decisions that are beneficial for the team? I look at a bunch of that stuff.

“It comes down to just each person, each player, each coach taking a look at yourself, looking in the mirror, see what you see. If you don’t like what you see, we got to change, and you got to make improvements and you got to get better. So these are all the things that we’re doing and we’re helping him. We’re helping the offence. We’re helping the offensive line. We’re helping the receivers. We’re helping everybody get better and we’re using everything we can to make these adjustments.”

Wentz has his best chance to get back on track facing the NFL’s worst pass defence. The Seahawks have allowed 343.7 yards passing per game. They’ve shown improvement since halftime of a 23-16 loss to the Rams on Nov. 15.

“These last six quarters that we’ve played have been different, and the guys have really taken a step forward in owning what they’re doing and in the communications and the adjustments and utilizing the package, and disguising really well and really feeling comfortable with it,“ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

BRINGING HEAT

The arrival of Carlos Dunlap in a trade from Cincinnati has helped the Seahawks turn up the pass rush in recent weeks. Seattle has 16 sacks over the past four games, including three sacks last week of Arizona’s Kyler Murray. It was notable because Seattle didn’t have a QB hit on Murray in the first meeting against Arizona.

Dunlap has three sacks in his three games since arriving in Seattle. And now the Seahawks face an offence that has allowed a league-high 40 sacks.

CENTURY MARK

Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner is on the cusp of joining rare company. Wagner needs four tackles to reach 100 for the season. It would be his ninth consecutive season with at least 100 tackles, one of just three players since 2000 to accomplish that feat. The other two are London Fletcher and Keith Brooking.
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