Wentz’s growth relies on ability to make friends
The Eagles completed their offseason work with the customary huddle, head coach Doug Pederson addressing the players before handing off to the franchise quarterback to break it down.
Last year the quarterback was Sam Bradford, who was more likely to lay up than shoot for the green.
Carson Wentz, the people’s choice, swung for the hole.
“Nice work all spring, way to work,” Wentz said in a video approved by the team. “Way to compete, and get better every day. Enjoy your break, take care of your bodies but let’s not lose sight of our goal. Let’s not lose sight of what were building around here and that’s playing into February. Don’t lose sight of that.”
That wasn’t the Pro Bowl he was talking about, although being selected for the game would be a pretty good season for Wentz and other teammates.
Wentz was thinking Super Bowl. The next one is Feb. 3 at that crazy indoor stadium in Minneapolis where Bradford plays.
Crazier things have happened. After the 2014 season, for example, the Eagles exiled Howie Roseman to an office in another zip code and put him in charge of the salary cap and the equipment staff. Now he has complete control of personnel and a legacy as the guy who delivered Wentz.
What isn’t crazy, at least for these Eagles, is the rapport Wentz has with his teammates, which is what the OTAs and minicamp are about.
Physically Wentz did everything a quarterback could do in the offseason. He put the ball in places receivers could catch it and they did — a lot. That was new. Obviously it helped to have players who could hang on to the ball like Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
The dorks who accentuated the errant throws missed the bonding process that began last year when Wentz and the Eagles followed a 3-0 start with a painful 4-9 finish. (Does it get any lower than allowing Tony Romo to put a touchdown on you in his last NFL series?)
We all know the only proven method of evaluating a football team with a lot of new pieces such as the Eagles is to see what it actually does when the season begins.
Still, the gut feeling right now, provided Wentz stays healthy for a second straight year, is the Eagles are looking at their first winning season in four years. That’s partly because of his improved throwing mechanics, and largely because of his competitiveness.
Behind the scenes, in the huddle and in the meeting rooms, Wentz has taken charge. You can only do that when you actually know what you’re doing.
Wentz provided glimpses of who he is last year. Don’t let the post-game smile fool you. He has no problem — particularly during games — expecting as much out of teammates as he does of himself.
It started in the opener last year when TV cameras panned in on a sideline situation where Wentz was waving his arms and getting animated in front of the right side of his offensive line seated on the bench. Veteran guard Brandon Brooks and tackle Lane Johnson were studying pictures of the previous series, which wasn’t quite one for the ages, when they looked up from the photos and eyeballed Wentz.
It was compelling TV. Brooks smiled when shown the screen shot. He said Wentz was explaining where the safeties were, what they were doing and what the Eagles should be doing in terms of blocking assignments.
Johnson expects Wentz to be no less demanding going forward. To contact Bob Grotz, email email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @BobGrotz.