Eagles head coach Doug Pederson just finished his news conference and I thought he made a valuable statement that came directly from his experience as a quarterback in the National Football League. He said if a quarterback gets hit early in a game, it stays with him throughout the entire game. I would concur with that statement because I’ve seen quarterbacks get up with those cobwebs in their eyes after being hit. They are never the same after they get hit solidly and it throws them off their game.
Pederson said that while emphasizing why it is so important that they stop the Cleveland Browns from hitting rookie quarterback Carson Wentz early in the game. It’s very important that they keep him clean early and let him have some positive plays, so he establishes his confidence. This is a benefit of having a former NFL quarterback as the team’s head coach.
I had a coach who used to tell us that “the 15 yard roughing the passer penalty was on him in the first quarter” , if we weren’t sure we could get to and hit the quarterback in time to avoid getting a roughing the passer penalty. He wanted us to go after the hit on the quarterback despite the risk of a penalty because he knew that an early hit on the him was going to affect his play the rest of the game. He would call blitzes early in the game for the purpose of getting a hit on the quarterback early.
Throughout my NFL career, I saw good quarterbacks get knocked off their game because of a big hit on them early in a game. I’ve seen mediocre quarterbacks get totally destroyed because of a big hit on them early.
As you look at the game on Sunday, make sure to pay attention to how well Pederson and the Eagles offensive line are able to protect the young quarterback early, because it will have a lot to do with how well the youngster plays.
I’m still concerned about how well Wentz will be conservative about taking chances with his body. I can see Pederson has talked to him about it, but once he gets out there on the field, he’s going to play with his instincts and he has no idea how fast the big defensive linemen and linebackers are. He had better get his butt on the ground ASAP, when the defenders are approaching.