PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles coach Doug Pederson is trying to keep the weight off quarterback Carson Wentz's shoulders as he readies for the first playoff game of his career Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks (4:40 p.m. ET, NBC).
Pederson is doing so by keeping the focus narrow and the tempo high.
"[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. "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."
The recent track record for QBs making their postseason debuts isn't great. Quarterbacks in their first playoff start have a 5-15 record since 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Dating to 2000, the record is 26-42.
Pederson noted that emotions run high for newcomers to playoff ball and that for Wentz, the key will be calming his nerves early in the game. One way to do that, Pederson said, is to go up-tempo on offense to prevent overthinking and establish a rhythm. It's a method that worked well for Wentz down the stretch of the regular season, as he tossed 10 touchdowns to one interception over the past five games to help the Eagles to a 4-1 finish and an NFC East title.
The coaching staff did a better job overall of catering to Wentz's strengths, allowing him to raise his game even as injuries hit the skill positions hard.
For one, he got out of the pocket more. Since the Eagles' Week 12 loss to the Seahawks, Wentz is averaging 6.6 attempts per game and 8 yards per pass attempt outside the pocket, per ESPN Stats & Info, up from 3.6 attempts per game and 7 yards per attempt in his first 11 games.
Wentz averaged the second-most play-action passes per game (16.2) during that stretch, nearly doubling his output in the weeks prior (8.7). Philadelphia has leaned on this in the clutch. Wentz leads the NFL with three game-tying or go-ahead touchdown passes in the fourth quarter during this span, and all three have been off a play fake.
These adjustments were on the heels of Wentz's four-turnover performance in the 17-9 loss to Seattle -- arguably the worst of his career. Wentz is 0-3 in his career against the Seahawks, with the Eagles' offense scoring 34 points total in those games. With turnovers dooming them in their last matchup, Wentz said "the echo of the week" will be to "take care of the football."
Otherwise, the plan is to keep things business as usual at the Eagles' training facility, with the hope that the team -- and the quarterback -- enter Sunday's wild-card game feeling light.
"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."