Carson Wentz is an agile quarterback and isn't afraid to tuck the ball and run when he needs to. This type of play has worked well for Wentz at times but it also has caused durability issues for the quarterback out of North Dakota State -- suffering a season-ending ACL injury in 2017 when rushing in for a touchdown against the Rams and last year in the playoffs against the Seahawks in the first quarter getting knocked out of the game with a concussion when scrambling.
Wentz is off to a brutal 2020, completing just 60.6% of his passes and possessing a quarterback rating of 66.9, along with four touchdown passes and a league-high seven interceptions. Wentz's poor play is not all on him, however, as the Eagles have been decimated by injuries on the offensive line and at the wide receivers position.
Sometimes by design or being pressured by opposing defenses, Wentz has rushed for 109 yards on 18 rushes and has scored three touchdowns on the ground in the last three games. Wentz's running ability is something that has caught the Steelers' eye.
“They are capable and willing to run Wentz, particularly in those situational moments, red zone and so forth,” Mike Tomlin said. "So quarterback mobility is something that has our attention as we prepare as well.”
Defensive coordinator Keith Butler says the Steelers have to take their shots on Wentz when he takes off running, of course within the rules of the game.
“What we have to do is make sure we don’t put ourselves in positions where he’s going to hurt us in the running game,” Butler said. “They keep the ball with him like a lot of people do in the game to get in critical situations and they have to have a play. He will keep the ball as he takes the handoff.
“If he does that, we have to hit him. He’s live. If he does that, he doesn’t have any quarterback rules protecting him from that. We have to do the best we can and take some good shots on him, not illegal shots but good shots on him. If he’s going to run the ball, then he’s going to need to know what that means.”
The Eagles' offensive line from left to right will be, tackle Jordan Mailata, guard Matt Pryor, center Jason Kelce, guard Nate Herbig, and tackle Lane Johnson. Kelce and Johnson are considered as one of the top players at their respective positions in the league, Johnson though is dealing with a left ankle injury. The rest of the offensive line is inexperienced with Pryor making his third career start, Herbig making his fifth start and Mailatia getting his second start. It's a matchup that Cameron Heyward and the Steelers' front looks to feast on.
"We think when you have to replace somebody there's blood in the water and we try to feast on that but they're going to play accordingly," Heyward said. "They're going to get the ball out quick. They're going to run the ball. They're going to do a lot of screens. When we get our chances we have to hit home, that's the only way we're going to have success. We gotta make them one-dimensional. If we do that, we can have a fun day."