Much has been made about the young man from North Dakota over the past few days. Is he for real? Is he a fraud? Objectively,he’s somewhere in the middle. That’s not a terribly interesting opinion to have, but based on the statistics, it’s true. He’s won two games. He has a high completion percentage, but a low yardage total. He’s thrown 3 (should be 5, if not for drops) touchdowns with no picks.
Two games into his professional career, he’s as good as anyone has ever been. Hyperbole? Sure, but it’s a pretty low bar. Rookie quarterbacks in the NFL are usually trash. Short of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, wins are sparse and interceptions are common. His stats look nice, but that’s not why I’m sold on him.
He passes the eye test, and his demeanor is second to none. He’s 6’5”, 250 pounds, statuesque and an impressive specimen. The old adage about “If you drew up what you think a quarterback should look like, it would look like him” is accurate. He commands a huddle, his teammates believe in him, and he’s focused and intense. He is quickly challenging Jordan Matthews for the title of “Most Time Spent at the Team Facility.” He is nothing but humble and respectful in press conferences, and credits his coaches and teammates for all his success.
This is still not the reason I’m driving the Wentz bandwagon.
It’s his play recognition, which is a direct result of his film study and work ethic. I’ve never seen a rookie come to the line, pick up on blitzes, call audibles, set the tempo, work the snap count, and find stay calm like he does. He doesn’t play like a rookie.
For all I know, though, his victims (the Browns and Bears) may be the two worst teams in the league, and, for that matter, there’s a good chance the Birds are going to get blown out by the Steelers on Sunday. But let’s keep in mind this was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and trading Sammy Sleeves was supposed to be punting on the season; any progress and sign of hope is fine with me. If the Eagles lose the rest of their games but Wentz improves, this will not be a lost season.
This all comes with one caveat: the kid needs to slide. Athletic as he is, he’s going to get annihilated if he keeps trying to outrun defenders like he’s playing against Wofford or Lehigh. James Harrison would love to hang Wentz’s head on a wall like a 10 point buck.
Remember- winning this year is not the end game. The results are secondary to Wentz’s development. They may compete in a horrid NFC East, but it’s more important he stays upright and gets experience. Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman lost a combined 28 Games in their rookie season.
Here’s hoping Carson Wentz’s rookie year goes a little more like his opposite number on Sunday. Ben Roethlisberger is the best comparison to Wentz- big, strong, athletic, cannon arm, natural leader, and did not go to a college powerhouse. Ben’s rookie year was a rousing success, but he took a few years to fully reach his apex and become a superstar.
It’s much too early to say Carson Wentz is heading down the same path- but it’s a hell of a start.