A new era began when the Minnesota Vikings desperately had to trade for Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford after starter Teddy Bridgewater tore his ACL in practice. With Bradford gone, the Philadelphia Eagles promoted their rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz, to starter.
The 23-year-old had high expectations after being drafted No. 2 overall by the Eagles and now had the chance to prove he was worth the investment. After all, the last quarterback they drafted in the first round was Donovan McNabb, now a member of the Eagles Hall of Fame.
It was no accident that he was selected so high in the NFL Draft. However, many analysts criticized Wentz for only playing Division I Football Championship Subdivision football—also known as DI-AA, a level under the more recognized Football Bowl Subdivision—in college. I suppose those analysts forgot other FCS quarterbacks selected in the first round such as Phil Simms, Steve McNair and even Joe Flacco who went on to have great success in the NFL. The Eagles definitely took a gamble on moving up in the draft to select him, but three games and three wins into the season and it sure looks like it’s paid off in a huge way.
Pairing Wentz with the Eagles new head coach, Doug Pederson, has proven to be effective immediately. Having intelligence paired with a photographic memory, Wentz learned the offense in the short amount of time he was given. Wentz and Pederson’s combined success shows in their team statistics. Last year with Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford through three games, the Eagles possessed the ball for an average 23 minutes per game, committed six total turnovers and also scored just 58 total points. This year with Pederson calling the plays and Wentz commanding the offense, they have possessed the ball for an average of 37 minutes per game, have committed no turnovers and are responsible for 92 total points. Having a quarterback that can read a defense and take control of the offense such as Wentz really makes a difference.
Wentz’ greatest asset is his ability to make smart plays while limiting turnovers. While at North Dakota State, he broke the record for pass attempts without an interception (143). This past week, he broke the NFL rookie record for most pass attempts without an interception, which now stands at 106 and counting. This silenced critics that said Wentz would not transition well to the NFL. Tom Brady holds the record for pass attempts without an interception to start a career at 162, which Wentz will now have his eyes set on.
Through the first two weeks, Wentz defeated the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears, which proved little to experts around the league based on the talent of the two teams. This past Sunday, Wentz and the Eagles took on one of the more elite teams in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wentz rose to the occasion, once again putting up solid statistics that turned heads all across the NFL.
Yes, we are only three games into the season and I hate jumping to conclusions about the future of the team. However, with the weight of a city on his shoulders, Wentz has prevailed thus far and given Eagles fans something we haven’t had in a very long time: Hope.