Carson Wentz' first drive in the NFL was something special.
Against the Browns, Wentz only had one incompletion on an opening drive that was capped off by a gorgeous touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews. Wentz put the ball in a spot in the corner of the end zone where only Matthews had a chance at it. A few quarters later, Wentz dropped a deep pass to Agholor in the bucket right over two time Pro Bowler, Joe Haden's head.
So much about Wentz in his debut astounded me. His arm strength, his aggressiveness and the way he controlled the offense at every moment of the game. The game ended with the Eagles pulling out the massive victory and, after a day, the buzz of an opening day victory wears off a bit so you can analyze the game.
"It's just the Browns. They have the worst defense in the NFL."
"Wentz did not need to throw past his first read."
"He looked shoddy on a few passes that were inaccurate."
"Imagine what Vic Fangio is going to do to him next week against the Bears."
I heard these things over and over again, and honestly I ended up telling some of these stories to myself. However, there was just something about Wentz' NFL debut that came off to me as being special. I couldn't put my finger on it. There was just a vibe.
Two nights ago, Carson Wentz continued to confirm he feeling he radiated in his NFL debut. On the road, on primetime, against one of the smartest defensive coordinators in the league, Carson Wentz looked like an NFL veteran leading the Eagles to a massive win over the Chicago Bears. He did not have quite the overall performance he had against Cleveland, but there was just something there. His stats were not amazing, even considering the gorgeous would be touchdown pass that Jordan Matthews dropped, but it became clear what is so great about Carson Wentz.
When you venture to The Philadelphia Museum of Art, you are met with an imposing staircase leading up to the main building. If you venture the staircase, what awaits you at the top is one of the foremost symbols for Philadelphia.
There is something odd about a fictional boxer marking the grounds of one of the world's most impressive collections of art and a historical landmark of the city, but then again, Rocky Balboa is Philadelphia. That blood, a fighter's blood, is what Philadelphia champions in its people and its history. It doesn't matter if it's Benjamin Franklin, Rocky Balboa, Joe Frazier, Brian Dawkins, Ron Hextall or Chase Utley, Philadelphia wants someone who battles in every moment and exudes confidence in everything they do. Well, after two weeks of the regular season, I cannot help but feel there is a new fighter in town and he's a 23 year old red head from North Dakota.
Wentz is not afraid of anything. He is not afraid of going from North Dakota to one of the biggest cities in the Country. He is not afraid of competition in camp with a former number one overall pick who just received a lucrative new deal, he is not afraid of being given the starting job barely a week before the NFL season opens and he is certainly not afraid of NFL defenses.
That boldness that Wentz possesses not only enables him to be successful, but it is contagious. The Eagles offense is not so different from the offense of last year's disappointment. However, everyone is on the field giving their everything. Jordan Matthews, despite three drops, is fighting every time the ball is in his hands, Nelson Agholor looks like a totally different player and the Eagles are so much tougher up front running the ball.
They say that teams will take on the personality of their head coach and their quarterback. Well, Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz, while they are both kinda lovable goobers, just exudes charisma and players are forced to follow in being confident. It is a beautiful thing to watch.
The moment the Eagles traded up to the second pick, I was terrified. Since last February, I was probably the most outspoken dissenter of Carson Wentz. I loved the tools and the aggressiveness he displayed as a quarterback, but he seemed like a project to me and one who had very little playing experience and injury history. The odds, at least from a historical standpoint, were stacked against Wentz.
Nevertheless, the narrative about Wentz was about how brilliant, how tough, and what a leader he is. I chalked it up to yearly lip service that quarterbacks will randomly get. The guys gassing Wentz up were the same guys saying Zach Mettenberger was better than Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota and that Tom Savage was a franchise quarterback... It was difficult to disseminate that hype from Wentz' and my massive mistake was ignoring that every coach, player and evaluator with great access to Wentz absolutely adored him.
Now, I am not one to love being incorrect, but I could not be happier with how horribly wrong I probably am about Carson Wentz. I totally underestimated what his character and intelligence would mean for his development and after one summer working with coaches, he looks like the real deal.
Yes, it has only been two weeks and yes, the Eagles have beaten two teams are are probably going to finish the season in the bottom third of the league, but that will not keep me from being excited, just as nothing should keep y'all from being excited. Wentz is not perfect. He can get a bit too aggressive, and he can be inaccurate and he really really needs to learn how to protect his body. However, the mistakes he will inevitably make can and likely will be offset by his confidence and a coaching staff that has done an excellent job fostering his ability and encouraged him to go into every game, guns blazing.
Yes, it has been two games, but Wentz feels like Eli Manning to me (without that dumb, gaping-mouth Eli Manning face). Wentz is supremely confident and that type of demeanor is the type that can bring Lombardis to Broad Street. He is going to fight back on every snap and come back from every mistake. The team will always have a chance to win with his mindset and the coaches belief in him.
Its been two games and the 2-0 Steelers are next up on the slate, but as long as the Eagles have their new Heavyweight Fighter in the ring, dropping back to pass, they have a chance to win.