Wentz gave glimpse of some­thing bet­ter

The Boyertown Area Times - - SPORTS - By Jack McCaf­fery jm­c­caf­fery@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Jack­McCaf­fery on Twit­ter

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.”

RICK KAUFF­MAN - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ea­gles quar­ter­back Car­son Wentz threw 27-for-43 and two touch­downs in a 27-13 vic­tory over the Dal­las Cow­boys.

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