Eagles Wake-Up Call: Adjusting To Life With Wentz
Players were simultaneously shocked yet unsurprised when the Eagles traded Sam Bradford to the Vikings on Saturday, changing the team’s starting quarterback just eight days before the regular-season opener. While some mentioned the “rumblings” about Bradford potentially being traded throughout the summer, no one saw the timing of the deal coming.
One potential risk of the move was how the veterans who want to win now would react, but at least publicly, each player insists expectations for the season haven’t changed as Carson Wentz replaces Bradford.
“Not at all. This kid is a great football player. He can make all the throws,” Brent Celek said. “He’s a smart kid — he can make all the right decisions. Obviously, he’s a rookie. It’s not like he’s going to play perfect; it’s not like any of us are going to play perfect. But we all got to try to play a little bit better around him and help him.”
As soon as the Eagles began calling players about the trade, it was clear Wentz — not Chase Daniel — would start in place of Bradford. Daniel was reportedly unhappy with the move, and he acknowledged as much when he met with the media yesterday.
“I think any competitor would be a little disappointed, but believe me it’s not going to get in the way of my preparation,” Daniel said. “It’s not going to hinder me in any way moving forward. Carson’s ready for this, and it’s about him now.”
One turn of events — or lack thereof — Wentz will benefit from is the NFL’s slow-moving process in returning Lane Johnson’s “B” sample and potentially suspending the right tackle. Johnson said yesterday he plans on starting on Sunday against the Browns, noting that the process has been a “long month of Hell” for him.
Although Johnson would be eligible to play while potentially appealing a suspension, he still hasn’t made the decision about whether he would appeal, but he is happy to protect Wentz in the rookie’s first NFL regular season game.
“He walks around like a vet already. Not arrogant, but he has a confidence about him. It’s going to be an adjustment period, but I think he’ll do fine,” Johnson said. “He’s confident. As far as what I’ve seen in practice, he’s been doing really well. I think game experience is obviously going to help him grow.”
Wentz must quickly improve his chemistry with his receivers, but he also has much work to do with his offensive line. Brandon Brooks noted the importance of keeping Wentz clean in the pocket to not give the quarterback “extra things to worry about,” while Jason Kelce explained how he and Wentz will watch a lot of film together and ensure the communication at the line of scrimmage is good.
Kelce praised Wentz’s blitz recognition and protection calls in practice, which the center believes is a product of Wentz playing in a system at North Dakota State that is similar to Doug Pederson’s offense. Kelce added how he will likely work with Wentz every week during their off day and break down film to get on the same page.
“We’re fortunate that’s he’s a very cerebral guy on top of his game. Even out there today, he was right on top of the protections. From now to the game time, we’ll iron out certain things, but I’m more than comfortable with Carson back there and ready to go for him,” Kelce said. “He’s got a lot of really, really good tools. And he brings some youthful energy that I think will be good for us.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles finalized their practice squad, which includes Paul Turner and C.J. Smith.
“I’m just going to keep getting better and keep putting this team in good situations to win some ball games.” Carson Wentz is ready to go for Week 1.
“I’m thrilled that this is an opportunity for him, it’s an opportunity for our organization, our team, and we’re going full steam ahead.” Doug Pederson is confident and excited in starting Wentz.
An oral history of how the Sam Bradford deal went down in a span of 48 hours.
“This officially makes the NFC East a two-team race: Giants vs. Washington, [Eli] Manning vs. [Kirk] Cousins.” NFC East Roundup.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Other Eagles are ready for the Wentz era to begin, pens Jeff McLane of the Inquirer.
“I was obviously disappointed at first that Sam was traded,” Ertz said. “I worked too hard this offseason to feel disappointed for an hour. Once Carson called me I kind of had the juices flowing again.”
Wentz, of course, had been informed that he would replace Bradford as the starter when he called Ertz. He had a message for the fourth-year tight end.
“He said, ‘Let’s go, man. It’s time to have some fun,’ ” Ertz said.
Several of the Eagles said they had a similar reaction to the trade. Their emotions, though, may have played out over a longer period, unlike Ertz, who was on the front lines of the trade and its repercussions.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock is also a fan of making Wentz the starter, from Paul Domowitch of the Daily News.
“Everybody feels this kid is ready to go,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday.“Since they drafted him, he’s exceeded all of their expectations,” said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, who was the television analyst on the Eagles’ preseason games on CSN this summer.
“Despite the injury, I think they came away feeling he was ready to play a lot earlier than they thought he would be.”
Mayock never has been big on the watch-and-learn method of developing first-round quarterbacks. He feels the best way they can learn, the fastest way they can learn, is by playing.
“Both Wentz and the Eagles are going to be a lot better off (with him playing) than if they had waited a year,” he said. “Every rep he gets this year should make him a better player next year.
While the players have today off, BLG and I will hop onto Facebook Live around noon to discuss our season predictions and answer a few questions.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.