Carson Wentz's deep-ball stats might explode with DeSean Jackson's addition

Carson Wentz's deep-ball stats might explode with DeSean Jackson's addition

PHILADELPHIA -- When speaking about his new quarterback, Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson was quick to highlight his arm strength.

"Obviously he has an arm out of this world, he can throw the deep ball," Jackson said during his (re)introductory media conference last week following a trade that sent him from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back to the Eagles. "Very smart, very agile. He's a good quarterback and I just can't wait to get with him and work out with him in the offseason."

Wentz's deep-ball production hasn't been otherworldly, even if his cannon of an arm is. He ranks 23rd in completion percentage (34 percent) and is tied for 26th in touchdown-to-interception ratio (1.0) on passes of 20-plus yards since 2016 when he came into the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

History shows Wentz's numbers are in for a significant spike, however, now that Jackson is in the fold.

It makes sense that having one of the best deep-threat receivers in NFL history at your disposal would help a quarterback in the big-play department, and the stats back that up. Just about every QB Jackson has worked with became a more dangerous and efficient downfield thrower with him on the field.

On average, the quarterbacks experienced a completion rate increase of 7 percent, an additional 3 yards per attempt and an improvement of .65 to their touchdown-to-interception ratios when playing alongside Jackson.

The outlier is Jameis Winston, whose numbers fell just about across the board. The fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick experienced a solid bump when teamed up with Jackson during the same time period pokes a hole in the theory that Jackson's impact is diminishing. Jackson, 32, remains one of the fastest players in the game, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. He reached 20-plus mph on eight of his 52 touches (15.4 percent) last season, the highest rate in the league, and had the highest average target depth in 2018 at 19.1 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Info research. For whatever reason, he and Winston were just oil and water on the field.

Odds are the chemistry will be better between Jackson and Wentz, who is ripe for an uptick in deep-ball production.

According to Pro Football Focus, Wentz ranks seventh in deep accuracy percentage (45 percent) over the past two years, while Winston rates fifth-worst (35 percent). So, Wentz is more accurate on his deep throws than his completion rate suggests.

 

 

Personnel needs to be factored in. Torrey Smith served as the Eagles' deep threat during their 2017 Super Bowl run, and while he stretched the field successfully, he wasn't the most consistent pass-catcher. Last season, Mike Wallace was supposed to fill the burner role, but he broke his leg in Week 2. In his absence, Alshon Jeffery was tops on the Eagles in average targeted air yards (10.8), followed by Nelson Agholor (10.5). That's a far cry from Jackson, who was tops among all qualifying receivers at 19.1 targeted air yards on average.

Wentz was also coming off an ACL tear and playing through a back fracture in 2018. Expected to be back at full health this season, he will be looking to give his "out of this world" arm a workout, especially now that he has one of the best deep ball artists in the game tracking down his throws.

 

Source: Tim McManus | ESPN

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