Re­ich: Wentz goes fourth with fa­mil­iar com­par­i­son

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Coaches talk about third down and how it de­fines teams. We know bet­ter. No one re­mem­bers third down. Fourth down is where stars are born, and the Ea­gles are one of the lat­est ex­am­ples.

The Ea­gles had fourt­hand-four at the 40-yard line of the Cleve­land Browns with a five-point lead and seven min­utes left in the third quar­ter of their opener. Play­ers fil­ing off the field in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a punt had to be sent back in.

When the Ea­gles lined up, Wentz was look­ing at a cer­tain blitz. He gath­ered the snap, zipped the ball over the mid­dle for a first down to tight end Zach Ertz and took a Hall of Fame­type hit, at least in the es­ti­ma­tion of of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Frank Re­ich.

“Hav­ing played with Jim Kelly all those years, you don’t want guys to take those hits,” Re­ich said. “But it’s the will­ing­ness on that fourth-and-four to stand there, a guy’s com­ing up the mid­dle, to make the play to Ertz and take the hit. Be­cause that’s what it takes to make that play and keep the drive alive. So those are good signs.”

That fourth-down play set the ta­ble for the back­breaker, Wentz fir­ing a 35yard scor­ing pass to Nel­son Agholor on the next play. For all prac­ti­cal pur­poses, it was game over.

Re­ich backed up Kelly, the Hall of Fame quar­ter­back, on the Buf­falo Bills. When Re­ich looks at Wentz, he sees the same blood-andguts com­peti­tor.

“I don’t like to com­pare too much,” Re­ich said. “I think phys­i­cally he re­minds me a lit­tle bit of a com­bi­na­tion of (An­drew) Luck – who I’ve never played with or coached, but I’ve watched him play; some of the same skills — and a guy who I did play with in Jim Kelly. (The) kind of size, strength and just a tough­ness. Just kind of a men­tally tough, phys­i­cally tough at­ti­tude; not afraid to stand in the pocket and take a hit. I think Car­son showed that.”

Wentz’s grit has not gone un­no­ticed among team­mates. Jor­dan Matthews, his go-to re­ceiver, is past the stage where he’s im­pressed by the rookie’s al­pha male qual­i­ties. Way past it.

Take the way Wentz was hit on the fourth-down con­ver­sion.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s good for mo­men­tum to stay on the field,” Matthews said. “I’m not go­ing to sit here and act like we were just like, ‘yeah, al­right!’ He ex­pects to, him­self, to do that. We ex­pect him to do that. This isn’t like our lit­tle brother that we’re try­ing to just move along. He’s a start­ing quar­ter­back in the NFL. The dude’s poised. He’s dif­fer­ent. So when he goes out there and makes that play, to be hon­est, we ex­pect him to. No dif­fer­ent than we ex­pect Ertz to catch the ball with con­tact.”

Ertz is ques­tion­able, at best, to be part of the of­fense when the Ea­gles op­pose the Chicago Bears Mon­day Night at Sol­dier Field. Re­ich has con­fi­dence in Trey Bur­ton, com­ing off a solid off­sea­son as well as a calf in­jury that side­lined him for the opener.

“Trey’s got to step up, we’ve got to adapt,” Re­ich said. “You just switch up your per­son­nel groups. But the good thing with this of­fen­sive sys­tem is it’s all built on a mul­ti­ple ap­proach that you can change for­ma­tions, that you can change per­son­nel groups and still run the same plays.

So you’ve got to adapt a lit­tle bit but the sys­tem has within it some things that make it con­ducive be­cause this stuff comes up all the time.”

With a tri­umph over the Bears, Wentz would be­come just the fifth rookie start­ing quar­ter­back to win the first two games of the sea­son since the 1970 merger. Kelly and Luck were un­able to do it. The afore­men­tioned group in­cludes Mark Sanchez (Jets, 2009), Joe Flacco (Ravens, 2008), Ryan Leaf (Charg­ers, 1998) and John El­way (Bron­cos, 1983).

“Every­body wants to be their own unique guy and Car­son is cer­tainly his own guy, for sure,” Re­ich said. “All you have to do is be around him a lit­tle bit to un­der­stand he’s not try­ing to walk in any­body else’s shoes. He’s blaz­ing his own trail. But he also has the ma­tu­rity to un­der­stand that you can blaze your own trail but at the end of the day this is a team game.”

MATT ROURKE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ev­ery now and then Sun­day the Browns’ de­fense would put the heat on Ea­gles quar­ter­back Car­son Wentz, like on this play when he’s be­ing pur­sued by Chris Kirk­sey and Der­rick Kindred.

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