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Why nine sacks aren’t just a quarterback or offensive line problem

The nine sacks that Washington surrendered aren’t just a culmination of poor offensive line play or indecisiveness from Carson Wentz. Other position groups played a part, too.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Commanders Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Sacks are bad and, besides turnovers, are drive killers. So for several reasons, Wentz getting sacked nine times against the Eagles this past Sunday was alarming. First, nine is abnormally high, forcing the conversation about who is at fault.

The quarterback is problematic in some cases.

The offensive line is problematic in some cases

But what about other position groups?

Context: The running back was Curtis Samuel, not Antonio Gibson.

Samuel struggled to get into his route, trying to squeeze between Eagles linemen Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Furthermore, if Samuel were to reach the flats quicker, he would be able to influence linebacker T.J. Edwards's decision-making. Edwards would either have to take Samuel or cover McLaurin, ultimately leaving Wentz with two options based on who he takes. Radio and Podcast host Craig Hoffman and I discussed another theory on the latest Hogs Haven podcast that has more to do with Samuel than it does the offensive line and quarterback.

Part of being a successful receiver or tight end on the NFL level is how well you can diagnose and adjust against different coverages. In this example, Armani Rogers, to the left of tackle Charles Leno on this play, is chipping and running a drag route. However, what would help in this instance is if Rogers settled and sat in between the hashes instead of continuing his route toward the field side. In turn, sitting in the zone void creates an instant opportunity for Wentz to find Rogers quicker and get him the football. Washington may not have called for Rogers to sit on this particular route, but continuing the route would run you into the field-side flat defender for a big hit and make a much more difficult throw for Wentz.

In all, there is so much nuance in the execution of a play, and even in the examples used above, the offensive line was beaten relatively quickly. The coverage on Wentz’s sixth sack also allowed Wentz to target McLaurin on a corner route if the line gave him time. However, when a sack takes place, some layers need to be peeled back to understand why things went down the way they did. This is not to excuse how poorly the offensive line and Wentz executed; however, the Commanders offense struggled on a couple of instances that had more to do with other position groups, and it should get cleaned up.