Wondering About Wentz

Posted: September 12th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

I was driving home tonight and listening to ESPN Radio. The Spain and Fitz show, which wasn’t bad at all, was talking about young QBs. They were wondering what to make of Sam Darnold after such a strong debut, while also trying to figure out Derek Carr, who looked like a mess after one time being such a good QB.

That got me to thinking about the mystery of young QBs. Andrew Luck looked great for a while, but injuries have slowed him down quite a bit. Robert Griffin III was a revelation as a rookie, but a terrible injury and all sorts of issues derailed his career. A couple of years ago Dak Prescott looked really good. Now he is all over the place. Marcus Mariota looked like a stud at one point, but he seems to have flat-lined. On the flip side, Jared Goff was awful as a rookie, but now looks pretty darn good. He made some terrific throws on Monday night.

Developing a talented young QB is hard. Keeping the player at a high level is even harder.

We’re all excited about Carson Wentz. He had an amazing season in 2017 and looked like the NFL’s MVP. Wentz didn’t just post big numbers, he made some spectacular plays. Almost as important, he totally bought into being the face of the franchise and the leader of the team. Some young players struggle with that and drift toward stardom. Wentz was happy to be the leader, but remained team-first and totally focused on winning. As much as anything, that attitude and focus is what gives me such high hopes for him.

We have two questions at this point. When will he play? Will he be the same player?

Doug Pederson will announce his starting QB this week. It feels like Nick Foles, but nothing is set in stone. Wentz will be back soon enough, whether this week or the next or whenever. No one is worried about his timeline. That’s more of a story than anything else.

The more intimidating question is what kind of a player he will be.

Watching Wentz go through his pre-game workouts gets your hopes up in a big way. He looks great. Not good, but great. He’s out there bouncing around, cutting and moving. His arm is stronger than ever (per Doug). Wentz doesn’t look like a rehabbing player. He looks like a star at the top of his game.

The fact the medical staff and coaches aren’t playing him tells you that he’s still mending. Football is a unique sport. It requires you to be conditioned in a way that working out can’t fully cover. How do you replicate the physical beating your body takes in a game? The only way to do that is by playing and taking those hits. That’s why you hear coaches talk about being in shape and being in “football shape”.

I think Wentz will have a successful comeback and play at a high level. He plays for a smart coaching staff. You can see that they aren’t rushing him back. The coaches are trying to be smart. Remember RGIII and what happened with him late in 2012 and the playoff game? Mike Shanahan made some highly questionable decisions and they hurt Griffin’s career.

Wentz has a strong O-line. Luck would have killed to play behind a line like this for his career. Instead, he’s had to deal with constant chaos in the backfield. You must protect the QB for him to be able to play well and to sustain that success.

The stability of the coaching staff is also a big help. There were some changes, but the QB coach and OC were promoted from within. The scheme stayed the same and Pederson is still the play-caller. Wentz isn’t learning a new offense or adjusting his game to suit the ideas of a new staff. Derek Carr has not had the same kind of stability. He is currently on his third head coach. And look at his list of offensive coordinators.

2014  Greg Olson
2015  Bill Musgrave
2016  Bill Musgrave
2017  Todd Downing
2018  Greg Olson

Carr has only had the same OC for consecutive years once in his career. That’s not healthy. And his play has suffered from all that change.

The organization as a whole has built around Wentz and put him in a position to succeed. They have given him good blockers. They have given him good runners. They have given him good pass catchers (not great, obviously). Now look at how Dallas is treating Dak this year.

This is a crucial season for Dak and his development. Dallas has thrown a bunch of young guys and castoffs to him. Nelson Agholor or Zach Ertz would instantly be the #1 target for Dallas. The Eagles still have Alshon Jeffery, Darren Sproles and Dallas Goedert. We’re hoping Mike Wallace pans out, but he’s off to a slow start.

You must help your star players. Dallas isn’t doing that.

I also think the coaches help by being aggressive. Don’t teach a QB to manage a game. Don’t team him “not to lose”. Teach the QB to attack, make plays and win games. The Eagles do that with Wentz and it has worked brilliantly so far. That helps him to have a strong mentality, on and off the field.

There are no guarantees that Wentz will be the same player, but I feel optimistic that he will. 2017 wasn’t a fluky breakout season where a bunch of close plays went his way. Wentz was nothing short of amazing at times. He’s come back from injuries before. Wentz is a grinder. He’s ultra-competitive. He has worked his butt off in rehab to get back here. He’s going to do whatever it takes to succeed.

*****

Aiken has value as a ST’er and a WR. We’ll have to wait and see who gets cut.

Jeffery
Wallace
Agholor
Gibson
Wheaton
Carter
Aiken

That’s a lot of WRs, especially when they aren’t compelling beyond the top couple. We’ll see soon enough.

*****

Makes total sense. Bausby is a talented player, but the Eagles need depth at S. Sullivan showed promise and can be developed. The Eagles are deep at CB.

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