Wentz had what could certainly be considered the worst performance of his young career, as he went 36-of-60 for 308 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. The Bengals' defense dropped several more would-be interceptions and batted down another handful of balls.
Wentz has a tendency to sail passes at times, and that got him into trouble once again in Cincinnati. Pederson said that can be chalked up to "strictly mechanics."
"It's the fact that we've got to get him off his back foot and get him stepping into the throws and just trusting the decision down the field," Pederson said. "Because there were opportunities, obviously. And again, a young quarterback that missed quite a bit of time in the preseason, but now we just need to keep cleaning these things up."
"I don't think it's mechanics," he said. "You throw the ball 60 times, you're going to miss some. That kind of happens.”
Wentz is in completely unfamiliar territory. During his four years at North Dakota State, the Bison went 57-4. He compiled a 20-3 record (.870 win percentage) while leading the team to a pair of national championships. With the Eagles sitting at 5-7, he has more than doubled his loss total as a starter at the collegiate level. If there are moments of defensiveness starting to creep up in postgame, it can probably be traced to the anxiety and restlessness that come with the unfamiliar sting of repeated defeat.
"Obviously, we're on a skid. There's really nothing to change," Wentz said. "We've just got to lock in, and we've got to be more disciplined. At the same time, you don't get down."
That's a difficult task, given how hard and quickly the offense is sinking. Sunday felt like a new low. The offensive line, just a shell of its original self, leaked badly at times and yielded 10 quarterback hits. Running back Ryan Mathews (knee) and wide receiver Jordan Matthews (ankle) were missing. The running game sputtered to the tune of 2.8 yards per attempt, and and the offense generated a meager 4.5 yards per play.
Wentz now has three touchdowns and eight interceptions the past five games. The entire offensive operation has broken down, yet it has four games to go before it can be mercifully put in the shop for extensive repair. That's a rather dangerous environment for a young quarterback.
Wide receiver Nelson Agholor, back from a one-game break to deal with confidence issues, is heartened by what he has seen from his quarterback, despite the group's struggles. He pointed to a play down the stretch on which, after Wentz was intercepted by Vontaze Burfict, the quarterback ran the linebacker down and threw his shoulder into him to knock him out of bounds.
"That's my quarterback," Agholor said. "You have a lot of respect for someone [who does that]. In fact, I was disappointed in myself because I was gassed. And I don't want him doing that. But the fact that he is that passionate, he still found a way to do that, I have a lot of respect for him."
Playoff hope has left this team. With a quarter of a season remaining, it's now about evaluating the head coach and supporting cast and the development of the rookie quarterback -- though any kind of substantial growth is nearly impossible in these conditions.
More realistically, it's about trying to ensure that Wentz is not further damaged between now and when the season wraps up Jan. 1.