Doug Pederson aiming to reduce playoff pressure on Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz will make his NFL postseason debut Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles host the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC Wild Card Round. Doug Pederson believes the onus is on him as head coach to limit the pressure Wentz is feeling ahead of such a huge career moment.
“[Wentz] doesn’t have to focus on anything more than just continuing to lead this team and doing the things that have made him successful down the stretch here,” Pederson said, via Tim McManus of ESPN. “I don’t want to add any more stress or pressure on him.
“Just the game itself, it’s a one-and-done mentality, and I want him to play free and not have to worry about things in the past that are out of our control at this time. We are going to focus on Seattle.”
Wentz of course has led the Eagles to postseason contention in consecutive years only to see injuries leave him sidelined before an opportunity to shine on the big stage.
Even if Pederson is successful in taking the pressure off Wentz ahead of Sunday’s game, history suggests the Eagles quarterback faces a formidable challenge in an effort to lead the team to victory.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, quarterbacks making their first postseason start have posted a 5-15 record since 2013 and 26-42 going back to 2000.
That said, Wentz is attempting maintain the status quo this week, treating Sunday’s game just like any other one.
“As far as how we prepare, how we approach the game, nothing changes. It’s another game,” Wentz said. “Obviously, we know what’s on the line. To some extent, we’ve kinda felt that way the last few weeks. We’ve kinda had our backs against the wall.
“It’s a one-game season. We’re excited about it. Going to be a fun one Sunday afternoon at home.”
The Eagles (9-7) navigated an up-and-down season, doing just enough to win the putrid NFC East. Wentz’s struggles rank high in why the Eagles didn’t have a better season, but the playoffs present a clean slate for both him and the team.