This is Carson Wentz’s world. The Cleveland Browns are just drowning in it.
After his eye-opening NFL debut, the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback has instantly become the league’s most interesting man. Will it last or is it a mirage dripping in Philly cheese sauce?
That, of course, remains to be seen. But Wentz certainly passed the initial eyeball test in the Eagles’ 29-10 win over the Browns. Everything scouts and coaches want to see from an NFL quarterback, Wentz gave them in his first 60 minutes of play. He impressed many in the league by showing a strong arm, great anticipation and confidence in his passes, and he had solid timing with his receivers.
Considering the fact that Wentz played just a cameo appearance in one preseason game, and considering the league was shocked that the Eagles started him in Week 1, this was a rousingly successful start to his career.
“Wentz was awesome,” longtime NFL scout Matt Williamson said. “I do expect him to keep it up. I see him having the type of season Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay) and Marcus Mariota (Tennessee) had last year and that would be wonderful for the Eagles and a kid who came out of a small school. He looked the part by doing the things we want to see.”
Wentz completed 22 of 27 passes attempts for 278 yards. He threw 2 touchdown passes and he did not throw an interception.
For a kid who was criticized for coming out of small-school North Dakota State – where he dominated – Wentz looked as comfortable as any first-game starting quarterback in recent memory.
Now, on cue, Wentz will be in the national spotlight on Monday Night Football when the Eagles travel to Chicago to meet the Bears.
There’s no doubt Wentz is one of the hottest storylines of Week 2. Everyone will be watching to see if the small-school player with virtually zero preseason experience can continue to light it up.
On a conference call this with NFL Network talent, future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson said he thought Wentz’s performance was the most fascinating development of the NFL opening weekend.
“My biggest takeaway is the way Carson Wentz played. It was truly remarkable to see a young guy who hadn’t played since the first preseason game, was out with an injury and everything that transpired with Sam Bradford being out of there, and then this guy’s a starter,” Tomlinson said. “To do what he did, I know it’s against the Browns, but they tried to rattle him. They blitzed him. They stood in the pocket and knew where to go with the ball. He was cool. He was poised in the pocket. He looked like a leader. He just looked like the quarterback of the future for that team. I just like what I’ve seen from the kid, and I think there is a great upside to Carson Wentz.”
There’s plenty of reasons to be excited about Wentz after his first game and fans across the country are, as Wentz’s jersey sales are the hottest in the league after Week 1 play.
That’s what happens when a rookie quarterback completes 11 of 12 passes for 129 yards and 7 first downs on 13 plays in which he was blitzed. That statistic was courtesy of former Eagles quarterback and current ESPN analyst and quarterback guru Ron Jaworski. The man was so excited about what he saw from Wentz, he tweeted out this play from Wentz:
— Ron Jaworski (@jawsespn) September 12, 2016
All of the of statistics and highlights all lend to the overwhelming summary on Wentz’s first game. In addition to looking the part and being a fit for the NFL game, Wentz seems wired for the NFL.
The game does not seem too big for him.
That may haunt the Browns for a long time. Before the opener, Browns chief strategy officer Paul Depodesta said the Browns (who badly need a young quarterback) made the the trade with the Eagles because they didn’t feel Wentz can be a top-20 quarterback. After the loss to Wentz, Cleveland coach Hue Jackson continued that narrative by saying, “That was one game; we’ll see where he is over time.”
If Wentz shows the first game was not a fluke and he becomes a star for the Eagles, it will perhaps be the cherry on top of a series of follies involving quarterbacks and the woebegone Browns.
While Wentz will be forever connected to the Browns, he will also be connected to Jared Goff, the quarterback the Los Angeles Rams traded up to take No. 1 instead of Wentz. While Wentz shined in Week 1, Goff stood in street clothes at San Francisco, watching the Rams get shutout 28-0 as the No. 3 quarterback. Goff couldn’t even gain his team’s confidence enough to be the backup for the opener.
Again, it’s super early, but the Eagles selection of Wentz looks like the right move. Because Wentz did the right things the right way in his NFL debut, there is no reason to believe he won’t continue to make great strides and perhaps become the next great quarterback.
That’s what former NFL head coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci thought when watching the Eagles last week.
“(I was) watching thinking this kid’s got something special,” Mariucci said. “He missed a lot of the camp because of a broken rib, so it’s 4th and 4 in this game, a big play near the red zone, and they get full blitz. He knows he’s short a guy in protection because he’s in an empty set, and he gets stuck through an A-gap. And somebody hit his ribs as he threw a completion for a first down. Hit him right in the ribs. I was going, oh, my God, is he going to get up? The very next play is a touchdown pass. So he really showed that, especially to Cleveland because they had a chance to draft him and they chose not to, to show that he’s got a little something to him.”