Eagles Wake-Up Call: Carson Wentz’s Weapons
Greg Cosell wasn’t talking about the Eagles, but he made an important point yesterday when discussing team-building and a path to success.
“When you have a young quarterback,” he said on 104-5 The Zone, “it’s very smart to keep giving him weapons. I think one mistake teams often make is they have a young quarterback and they don’t provide weapons and it’s just difficult.”
That’s not far off of what Carson Wentz is walking into. While Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman are banking on Doug Pederson’s ability to develop quarterbacks, whether the new head coach actually can remains to be seen. Wentz does have two good targets to throw to in Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews, but he may not have much help elsewhere.
For both this season and the foreseeable future, the Eagles have question marks all around the offense, including wide receiver and offensive line, although quick improvements by Nelson Agholor and Isaac Seumalo could help alleviate concerns.
During his radio appearance, Cosell was asked about the dynamic between Wentz and Sam Bradford, and he mentioned that the rookie gives Pederson “more ability” to run the kind of offense Pederson prefers. Cosell also dove into the Eagles’ running back situation.
“If you talk about the running back position, you have to look at Doug Pederson’s background in Kansas City,” Cosell said. “There were a couple years there where they lost Jamaal Charles, and they were still able to run the ball efficiently with a backfield by committee. And while it might be Ryan Mathews as the so-called No. 1 back, I think Doug Pederson is very comfortable if he has to play other backs.
“We’re not talking about a guy carrying 350 times, but they see [Wendell] Smallwood in this offense as being a Jamaal Charles-type player. Not exactly in skill set — he’s certainly not as explosive as Charles — but as a kind of a player who can line up in a number of spots. He can run the ball enough, and he’s a very good receiver. I think that’s the way Doug Pederson sees his running back position.”
Cosell touched on a few other topics as well, including how he wouldn’t be surprised if Fletcher Cox records 14 or 15 sacks this season. He also discussed the passing of Buddy Ryan.
“Buddy’s beliefs stemmed from his years with the New York Jets as an assistant coach in the late ’60s when Joe Namath was the quarterback and Weeb Ewbank — he was the head coach — did everything he could to protect Joe Namath,” Cosell said. “So Buddy sort of said to himself, ‘If they’re going to doing everything they can to protect the quarterback, then I’m going to do everything I can to hit the quarterback.’ That’s where his initial philosophy started, and clearly, just as a Cliff’s Notes statement, that’s the way the NFL is now.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“Once a player survived Buddy’s battering, proved himself and earned trust, Buddy would go to the mat for him.” More of remembering Buddy Ryan and other Eagles news in What They’re Saying.
Could it be the right time to return to a smash-mouth style of football?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Unlike Andy Reid and Chip Kelly, Buddy Ryan’s failures as a head coach didn’t affect his lovability with the Philadelphia fan base, writes Bob Ford of the Inquirer.
The retrospectives this week on Ryan’s career in Philadelphia, now so neatly drawn, make you wonder how the legacies of the team’s two most recent head coaches will change and harden as history grips them, and time draws them and their own nuances farther away. Andy Reid and Chip Kelly, both incredibly large on the sports landscape here in their respective times; both of whom, like Ryan, left with a winning record but without winning.
Calendar pages fall and stack one on top of the other, and it’s fair to wonder how high the paper tower will rise before the next championship. Not counting Doug Pederson, the Eagles have had 12 non-interim head coaches since their last title. Five of them are dead now, and another three are in their 80s or will be before the year is out. All 12 of them came in with the intention of breaking the streak that started after Buck Shaw‘s triumph in 1960. Some, like Dick Vermeil, left with the city’s affection. Some, like Joe Kuharich, left otherwise. Only Ryan failed so consistently in the biggest games and is still remembered fondly.It isn’t likely Reid or Kelly will get the same gauzy treatment when viewed through the lens of history. One guy hid his personality, and the other couldn’t, and that might be the downfall for both their legacies.
So then what about Wentz?
Well, as noted above, ever since the Eagles selected Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick, they’ve made it clear that they want to be extremely patient with him. Wentz is a player the Eagles view as the long term centerpiece of the franchise, but not in any way some kind of short term fix.
Could Wentz beat out [Sam] Bradford if he outplays him in training camp? In theory, yes, I suppose. However, it would have to be so far beyond obvious that Wentz is ready to go that the Eagles would be willing to absorb the embarrassment of paying either Bradford or Daniel the way they did this offseason for them to hold a clipboard in street clothes.
During OTAs and minicamp, Wentz had some very impressive moments, making plays that Bradford and [Chase] Daniel could never make in their dreams. That’s what the Eagles have to look forward to for the future.
Other times, he looked like rookie, as you would expect. That’s why you would want to be patient with him and let him grow as a quarterback.
Training camp is still way too far away.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.