Wentz gave glimpse of something better
When the Eagles exchanged multiple draft choices for the right to draft Carson Wentz, they knew they would be subject to years of scrutiny.
One season into their plan, and with substantial statistical support, they are confident in making an intermediate declaration of victory.
Throughout his rookie season, Wentz set an NFL record for most completions in a season, completed more passes in one season than any Eagle in history, set a franchise record for pass attempts … and finished the season by throwing two touchdown passes in a 27-13 victory Sunday over the Dallas Cowboys.
“From the start of the season until today, it is night and day, in a good way,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “He’s really seeing the field. He’s surveying the field. He’s using his legs. He’s a gifted runner. He knows where everybody is going to be. He’s got great dialogue and communication on the sideline, on the football field. He has leadership ability. He’s an exciting player to watch and to coach. And it’s a pleasure having him this year.
“In his rookie season, to do the things that he’s done, is just amazing.”
The Eagles finished 7-9 in a division won by the Cowboys, who were 13-3 with their own rookie quarterback. So they are already a step behind in that rivalry.
But save for a brief pause in Week 16 to quickly pass a concussion test and return to a victory over the New York Giants, Wentz was the Birds’ quarterback for the entire season, that after being named the starter shortly before the season-opener upon the trade of Sam Bradford to Minnesota. And he passed for more yards as a rookie, 3,782, than all but Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston in NFL history.
Despite having something of an injury history at North Dakota State and then breaking a rib in his only preseason appearance, Wentz survived 16 games behind an offensive line challenged by injury, suspension and inexperience.
With 16 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions, he was far from Pro Bowl qualified. But as a rookie on a team with a firstyear coach, he provided welcome stability.
“When Carson was drafted, it made us so excited because we knew we were finally going to have the opportunity to build that chemistry with one quarterback for a long time,” said Zach Ertz, who caught the two touchdown passes Sunday. “We’re really excited about the future.”
Some of the Eagles have that right. Plenty of others will not make it to the first OTA without a scenery change. But if Wentz had one job as a rookie, it was to give the Eagles hints that they were correct to trade for his rights. Next? “Just keep plugging away,” Wentz said. “There are going to be highs and lows in this business. And so many people have said, ‘Just keep going.’ At the beginning of the year, we started 3-0. And through all of this commotion, I was the same guy. Because I had those people giving me that advice to just keep plugging away. Highs, lows, it doesn’t matter.”
As a rookie, Wentz had plenty of both. His 379 completions broke Bradford’s 2010 NFL rookie record of 354. His 3,782 passing yards were fourth in franchise history. One issue: The W-to-L ratio. “I think the biggest thing I keep harping on is that it’s hard to win,” Wentz said. “It’s hard to win in this league. Everyone brings their best every week. And anybody can beat everybody. So I think it’s just hard to win. And we just have to be on point every week.”
Wentz, the first quarterback to start every Eagles regular-season game since McNabb in 2008, will enjoy some physical rest. Mentally, he will replay the season, looking for improvement.
“Ultimately, we wanted to still be playing in January,” the quarterback coninued. “It will take time to reflect, for sure, physically and mentally. But we are just building something special. We truly believe that in that locker room.
“It will be time to get going when we all come back. So I am excited for the future.”
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw 27-for-43 and two touchdowns in a 27-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.