Bears won’t be buying into Carsonmania
A caravan of family and friends were in town this past weekend to share Carson Wentz’s first NFL start with the Eagles.
Just like that, sales of his jersey shot through the roof.
Returning to practice Thursday had to be a letdown for Wentz, who in addition to having the top-selling jersey in the NFL last weekend found himself part of a presidential conversation.
President Barack Obama was talking sports smack while he was supposed to be campaigning locally for Hillary Clinton. That’s what you do when you get a glowing scouting report from Vice President Joe Biden, who attended Wentz’s debut at the Linc.
Did you hear the one where Biden urges the Prez to get on the Wentz Wagon?
“I thought it was kind of funny,” Wentz said Thursday. “I know a lot of people, a lot of friends and family thought it was pretty crazy. It’s cool and all but at the same time I’ve got a lot to accomplish before we make anything too big of that.”
The Chicago Bears will hear about all of that, too, if they haven’t already. It should help them make extra time to prepare for the rookie quarterback who after just one start with two touchdown passes, seemingly has arrived nationally.
The Bears and quarterback Jay Cutler, the 33-year-old veteran, are still Obama’s team. He’s a Chicagoan. But the Bears are yesterday’s news next to Wentz’s star, having blown a 14-10 lead in a 2314 road loss to the Houston Texans. The Monday Night game at Soldier Field is a chance to right the ship.
The Bears also have a luxury the Cleveland Browns didn’t, which is game film of Wentz playing with the Eagles starters. That’s a big deal, because when you go through the tape of the opener, the 6-foot-5 Wentz was fortunate not to get picked off at least twice, and lucky not to lose a botched handoff that was much too high for Darren Sproles, who is 5-6, to cleanly handle.
“Defenses in general, the more film they get, the more they’re going to try and pinpoint his weaknesses,” Eagles backup quarterback Chase Daniel said. “So we have to work on that. Not only do we have to get ready for the Chicago Bears but we have to figure out what did we do that wasn’t so great in this game? Not just him in general, just as an offense.”
Wentz says there were communications issues, particularly in protections he calls in the first game. He blamed most of those on himself. The big guy also took too many hits, even if he denied it by falling back on the old line about it being football, so you’re going to get hit.
“I thought we did some good things,” Wentz said. “I thought we missed some opportunities. There’s some communication we can definitely clean up; protection issues and stuff. There’s still some plays that we left to be made. We can still execute at a higher level.”
That said, the Wentz Wagon is the least of the rookie’s concerns. He says he’s too busy preparing to dwell on the hype. The jersey sales, the Presidential mention, the radio talk show feeding frenzies ... with all due respect it doesn’t rate with the outcome Wentz and the Eagles got in the opener.
“That other stuff is all kind of cool but at the end of the day you just kind of isolate yourself and block it out,” Wentz said. “I think getting that first start out of the way and getting that first win out of the way definitely helps my confidence going forward. “Without a doubt.” Wentz expects to be pumped Monday along with his teammates and the Bears. Just in case the kid isn’t a natural in blocking the outside noise, head coach Doug Pederson has a plan. Pederson was the quarterback bridge to then-rookie passer Donovan McNabb. If anyone knows what to do, it’s Coach Doug, as he was booed in some of the pre-game warm-ups at the Vet.
“This is where I can step in and help him and protect him and keep him out of that and keep him focused,” Pederson said. “If I can keep him in the building, as long as I stay in the building, then we’re going to be OK. I know there’s always outside influences and the more success he has on the football field, all that off-thefield stuff will take care of itself. But the last few days, he’s handled it well.”
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz passes during the first half against the Browns in Philadelphia. Wentz and the Eagles play against the Chicago Bears on Monday.