Eagles Offensive Coordinator Compares Carson Wentz To A Hall Of Fame Quarterback

Frank Reich praised the Eagles' rookie's toughness.

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

One of the most memorable throws from Carson Wentz’s first NFL start was not one of his two touchdown passes.

Make no mistake, those were stellar as well. But the way Wentz stood tall in the pocket and took a big hit on fourth-and-four right after delivering a strike to Zach Ertz over the middle for a first down was nothing short of impressive. The moment was a demonstration of Wentz’s poise and toughness.

When asked to compare Wentz to quarterbacks he’s worked with in his career, Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich cited the team’s fourth down conversion as a moment that reminded him of the past.

“You know, I think that I don’t like to compare too much,” said Reich. “Everybody wants to be their own unique guy and Carson is certainly his own guy for sure. All you have to do is be around him a little bit to understand that he’s not trying to walk in anybody else’s shoes. He’s blazing his own trail. But he also understands the maturity. You can blaze your own trail, but at the end of the day, this is a team game. You want to do that. You want to have your personality, your fire, your leadership.”

“I think physically, he reminds me a little bit of a combination of [Andrew] Luck. I never played with him or coached him, but just watching him play, [he has] some of the same skills. But a guy who I did play with in Jim Kelly, [that] kind of size, strength. Just a toughness. A mentally tough, physically tough attitude. Not afraid to stand in the pocket, take a hit. I think Carson showed that. Having played with Jim Kelly all those years, a Hall of Fame quarterback, you don’t want those guys to take hits. But it’s the willingness on that fourth-and-four, with guys coming up and standing there up the middle, make the play to Ertz, and take the hit. Because that’s what it takes to make that play and keep the drive alive. Those are good signs.”

Comparing Wentz to Luck and Kelly is obviously high praise for the Eagles’ rookie quarterback. Luck, the former No. 1 overall pick, has been a key part of the Colts’ success since he was drafted. Kelly, meanwhile, is a Hall of Fame talent who made four straight Super Bowl appearances.

In order for Wentz to have the success of those players, however, he’ll need to be able to stay on the field. And taking hits, as Reich suggested, can be a fine line. Teams want to be able to have a passer who isn’t afraid to get physical, yes. But there comes a time when a player can take too much damage. This is an area where Wentz can afford to improve.

“He probably took — I don’t know off the top of my head —probably two or three hits that there was something he could have done better,” said Reich. “A protection call, or get the ball out a little bit quicker. Just got to keep improving on that. And that is a big emphasis. We know it’s a physical game; you’re going to take hits. But we’re not trying to take hits unnecessarily just to prove that we’re tough. We’ll have enough of those opportunities. We just have to sharpen things up and get better.”

Ideally, the Eagles hope Wentz will be able to cut down on the unnecessary hits as the rookie continues to develop. In the meantime, the team really likes the toughness he’s shown.

“I think it’s huge because this game is a physical game,” said Reich of taking hits. “It’s toughness. It’s attitude. I think when that comes from the quarterback position, you know everybody thinks of the quarterbacks a lot of times as the prima donnas, but I always felt like that’s got to be one of the tougher guys on your team. Not just mentally but physically.”

“That’s why — obviously, it’s only one game — but Carson has the size and I think he has that mentality. He showed at least in this one game that he would stand in the pocket two or three times and make big plays in the face of guys breathing down his neck.”