Zach Berman
philly.com

One week after Carson Wentz was sacked five times and hit 12 times, the Eagles quarterback barely dirtied his uniform in a 21-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. He was not sacked and was hit only twice, a tribute to an offensive line that needed a better performance.

That line still included right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who recovered from an early penalty to have a much cleaner game than one week earlier. And it played 15 snaps without left tackle Jason Peters because of a biceps injury and five snaps without right guard Brandon Brooks because of an ankle injury. Both players will be ready for this week against the Dallas Cowboys.

The offense had plenty of problems Sunday - four turnovers, Wentz's inconsistencies, receivers who must improve - but the improved play of the offensive line was a positive development.

"Right now, we're trying to build [Wentz's] confidence each and every week, and I thought our guys yesterday did an outstanding job of [not allowing a sack] against a team that had 19 coming in," coach Doug Pederson said. "They protected him, kept him clean, and it just gives him confidence now and gives our whole unit confidence moving forward."

The Vikings defense is one of the best in the NFL, and their pass rush and blitz packages posed a major threat to the Eagles. The Eagles went with a short passing game and did not overexpose Wentz, but Pederson said there were no schematic or philosophical adjustments with the blocking - the line just played better.

"We actually went into this game very similar to the week before," Pederson said. "[We were] under the mind-set of potentially helping if we needed to help with protection, but actually as the game went, we didn't do as much as the week before."

Pederson credited Vaitai for learning from the Washington game. The coach didn't waver in sending Vaitai back onto the field, and he continued pledging confidence in the rookie right tackle on Monday.

"He really detailed his work during the week," Pederson said. "He practiced extremely well. He used his hands better. He was able to kind of calm the storm, so to speak, and played a fine football game. He played the type of game that we saw [in] him and [that] he's very capable of doing and now it's something that he can continue to build on."

The Eagles used more two-tight-end sets, but it was not necessarily to help the offensive line. Tight end Brent Celek took his highest percentage of snaps since Week 3. Pederson said that was because of the run-pass options that the Eagles used against the Vikings defense. The coaches wanted to have the option of Celek's blocking and pass-catching ability in case Wentz needed to change a play.

Wentz said one reason for improved protection was that the Eagles were playing with a lead. When they are trailing, defenders can "really just pin their ears back and run." But when the Eagles are playing with a lead, which they've done in all four wins this season, they can play with more balance and control.

The biggest problem on the offensive line Sunday was not the blocking, but rather the snaps. However, that sounded more like a quarterback problem than an issue with center Jason Kelce. Wentz fumbled two snaps and Pederson said it was "a little bit center, a lot of it quarterback."

"He just took his eyes off the ball, was looking at his read, whether it was a defensive line or a linebacker, and just didn't secure the football," Pederson said. "Kelce wasn't perfect. The balls were off to the right just a touch and so it was a little bit of the center, a little bit more of the quarterback just taking his eyes off the ball."

Wentz was not concerned about the snaps after the game, warning not to put "too much stock in them." He said he would be fine with Kelce and "clean it up."

He'll be well served following the example of the offensive line, which followed an ugly performance in Washington with reasons for confidence on Sunday.


wentz sped up his throws just a touch which threw off his timing a little. he should be more in sync this week .