The Eagles found their QB.
Carson Wentz is the future.
The Eagles found the biggest piece of the puzzle, now they just have to build around him.
Some people hear statements like these and wonder how true they are. Wentz went 7-9 this year. He finished with a rating under 80. He only threw 16 TDs and turned the ball over more than 20 times. He threw a ton of short passes and failed to come through late in games for most of the year. How the heck is that guy your franchise QB?
I think many people get confused with what we’re talking about. Wentz has the potential to be a franchise QB. He has the tangible qualities and the intangibles to develop into a star. He isn’t anywhere close to that level right now. When you think of Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre and the other classic examples of franchise QBs, you think of the finished product. Those players, like most QBs, were very different early on.
Dak Prescott is having an amazing rookie season. He’s set more than a few records and looks like the real deal. Why can’t Wentz be like him? As with any QB, circumstances are a huge factor. RB Ezekiel Elliott has a legit chance to be the league MVP. Think about that for a second. Prescott is having a great year and he’s not even the best rookie in the offensive huddle. Elliott is the foundation of that whole team. Prescott just has to get the ball to his playmakers. That takes a tremendous amount of pressure off him.
Wentz has no such star RB to lean on. The Eagles lack playmakers. Who is the MVP of the Eagles offense? Jason Peters started all 16 games, but wasn’t dominant. Darren Sproles was terrific at times, but finished with 865 yards from scrimmage and 4 TDs, hardly great numbers. Jordan Matthews was the key to the passing game, but failed to make some key plays and missed a couple of games. Wentz should be the offensive MVP.
Some of you read this and say “You’re just making excuses for Wentz. Stop it!”. Nothing could be further from the case.
I can’t tell you that Wentz would be great if he had Julio Jones to throw to or David Johsnon to hand the ball to or whichever skill players you want to bring up. I don’t know how Wentz would perform. He hasn’t had the chance to do that. And that’s the point. We need to see how he does play when surrounded by really good talent.
No young QB is going to thrive when he has to carry most of the load on his own. It always bothered me when Peyton Manning got praised over and over and no one brought up the point that he always had HOF talent around him. The moment he stepped onto an NFL field, he had Marvin Harrison and Marshall Faulk as his weapons. Faulk was then traded and replaced with Edgerrin James. Manning was great, but those are some seriously potent weapons to work with.
Late in his time with the Colts, things fell apart. Manning didn’t have his star players. He still found a way to pile up yards and points. That’s when I truly gained an appreciation for him. But Manning had more than a decade of experience by then and could carry a team on his back.
How many people remember Steve Young in Tampa? He left BYU and went to the USFL, where he was a star. Then he came to the NFL, but had the misfortune of going to the worst franchise in the league, the Bucs. Young played there in 1985 and 1986. He went 3-16 as a starter. He threw 11 TDs and 21 INTs. Bill Walsh traded for him and Young sat behind Joe Montana for a few years before he got a chance to play. Young then had an amazing run from 1991 until he retired. Even a special talent like Young needed the right situation to make him a star.
Wentz might become a star if the Eagles can find the right supporting cast. It is also possible that we’ll find out he’s not that guy. I can tell you that I see all the right signs. I can tell you that he looked better to me as a rookie than Donovan McNabb did. If Wentz turns out to be a better version of McNabb, he’ll be a terrific pick and the team should be in for a good run.
It is also possible that Wentz will prove to be a mediocre QB like Sam Bradford or a flat out bust like Matt Leinart or Jake Locker. I don’t think he is likely to be a complete bust because of what we’ve seen so far this year and the fact that Wentz is hard working and driven. Locker just wasn’t that good. Leinart was focused more on hot chicks than hot reads (understandable, but not good for a QB).
We need a couple of things to find out if Wentz is the real deal. The first is time. It took Matt Stafford a few years to really blossom as a QB., The Lions were patient and it paid off. Time works the other way as well. Mark Sanchez looked like a terrific young QB early on, beating Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in playoff games. He didn’t handle success well off the field and his game regressed on the field. He could be out of the league in a month or so.
We also need the Eagles to get Wentz some key pieces. That could mean an elite RB. It could mean a great receiver. It could be a couple of good receivers. Whatever. We need to see how Wentz plays when he has good players around him.
Then we’ll find out if he is in fact Mr. Right.