As the Redskins face Carson Wentz for the third time in his NFL career, the defense is hoping to keep the young quarterback contained and apply as much pressure as possible.
Coming into his second season in the NFL, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is looking to take a step forward with a new group of weapons around him.
The 24-year-old is coming off of a rookie season that intertwined flashes of greatness with some bad rookie moments. But with newcomers Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and LeGarrette Blount at his disposal, Wentz is hoping to be the franchise quarterback that is often expected out of a No. 2-overall pick.
Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, who watched Wentz complete 32 of his 46 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown in the most recent matchup between these two teams, had high praise for the young quarterback's calm and collected demeanor.
"He's always looked like a poised quarterback to me. He doesn't look like a rookie," Gruden said this week. "Him and [Dak] Prescott were very similar in that regard – they both have great poise for young players and a great handle on their offense. When pressure gets around them, they adjust pretty well and they handle it. He's a young player but he doesn't play young."
Wentz burst onto the scene last September, putting up passer ratings of 101.0, 86.6, 125.9 and 102.8 in his first four games as a pro. The hype soon began to fade, though, as his average passer rating dropped to 72.1 in the final nine games of the season.
Outside of the stat sheet, Wentz's mobility in the pocket is one area that impressed, according to safety Deshazor Everett.
"He can throw the ball well. He has mobility," Everett said. "You can't just give him a title of 'He's a pocket passer' or 'He's a runner,' because he'll run to create, or he'll sit in the pocket until he's hit and delivers a throw. That's maturity of the quarterback."
For Wentz it's not necessarily his rushing ability that will blow you away (150 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 46 attempts in 2016). Rather, it is his ability to move around behind the line of scrimmage to buy himself time that is such a key asset.
One thing that could potentially assist Wentz's development this season is the influx of veteran experience that the Eagles brought in this offseason. Two new players at wide receiver and one at running back is a lot of new faces for a young quarterback to deal with, but the three veterans should certainly add a mix of experience and talent to the roster.
Between Jeffery, Smith and Blount, that trio has combined for 255 games played in the NFL.
For Wentz, though, the next obstacle is getting a monkey off the back of the franchise: a five-game losing streak to the divisional rival Redskins.
Ahead of Sunday's showdown at FedExField in Landover, Md., Gruden emphasized the importance of pass rush when dealing with a young quarterback like Wentz. To do so, he said, the defense will have to force Wentz to throw more than he's comfortable with over the course of a game.
"The important thing is stopping LeGarrette Blount and the running game," Gruden said. "We have to somehow figure out how to get them third-and-long, try to make them one-dimensional. When we're at our worst offensively is when we're one-dimensional."