Carson Wentz Draws Comparison To Pedro Martinez
Here are some of the week’s top stories as the Eagles enter an early bye week.
Carson Wentz is a top five quarterback in 2016, opines Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.
5) Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Perhaps Wentz can keep throwing near-perfect games all season, although history tells us that’s unlikely. He gets knocked down a few pegs here for quality of competition and partly because the quarterbacks above are asked to do more. Pittsburgh’s pass rush Sunday was more inept than the Browns’ and Bears’ defenses that came before it. Wentz’s uncanny ability to accurately hit his 4-5 key throws every game is unquestionable. He makes at least two plays each week after escaping pressure that few others could. He changes speeds like a young Pedro Martinez. Wentz just isn’t being asked to carry his teams like [Cam] Newton, [Andrew] Luck, [Matthew] Stafford and [Matt] Ryan.
NFL.com’s Brian Billick raves about Wentz’s poise, but also gives some respect to what Jim Schwartz has done with the defense.
Next opponent (following Week 4 bye): at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 9.
When the Eagles shipped Bradford to the Vikings a week before the season started and announced Carson Wentz would be their starter, I supported the move. I’ve felt for some time that in the impatient world of the modern NFL, when you draft a quarterback near the top of the first round, you must start him at some point in his rookie season, to begin his development and to find out what you’re working with. But Wentz was a guy who had appeared in part of just one preseason game and was coming off a rib injury that probably hadn’t fully healed. Well, five touchdowns, zero turnovers and three wins later, Wentz has first-year head coach Doug Pederson and GM Howie Roseman looking nothing short of brilliant. Wentz has looked poised under pressure, throws the ball with both touch and zip, and controls an offense like a multi-year vet.
But while we have talked up Wentz’s performance ad nauseam, it’s perhaps the Eagles’ defense that is most shocking. This unit ranks No. 1 in points allowed, No. 2 in rushing defense and No. 4 in total defense. They ranked 28th or worse in all three of those categories last season — including dead last in rushing defense. New DC Jim Schwartz has done a fabulous job with this unit, but Pederson should get plenty of credit, as well. His offense leads the league in time of possession at 36:47, up more than 10 full minutes per game above last year’s Chip Kelly attack (the Eagles ranked 32nd in the NFL in time of possession in 2015), and nearly two minutes better than the next-best team this year.
The Eagles still have some things to prove, but in the very mortal NFC East, they have the makings of a legitimate contender.
It’s too early to crown Wentz and Dak Prescott as the next big quarterbacks in the NFL, opines Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.
The lesson to take away from all of this, as best I can tell from history, is that the excitement around Prescott and Wentz is justified, in part because they’ve managed to avoid failing immediately. The washout rate for players who struggle at the very beginning of their professional careers, even first-round picks, is higher than I expected. Whether by a lack of opportunity or an inability to adapt, cases like that of [Drew] Brees are few and far between.
At the same time, it’s way too early to crown Prescott and Wentz as future superstars and come up with trade packages for Romo while laughing at the Browns. They’re not going to go the rest of their respective careers without throwing an interception. They’re going to lose key pieces, as Prescott is likely to experience this weekend with Dez Bryant unlikely to play. They’ll go down early in games and have to throw against teams teeing off on passes to catch up. They’ll take hits and have to play at 80 percent, and even worse, they might develop bad habits with relation to the pass rush to avoid getting hit again. Defenses will make adjustments, and Prescott and Wentz and the ex-quarterbacks who coach them will make adjustments, and we may very well end up in a different place from where we all started.
As tempting as it is to crow about a future secured, Cowboys and Eagles fans should probably wait at least until the end of the season before they start naming their children Dak and Carson. Put it this way: If everything works out right, they’ll have plenty of time to brag about their new franchise quarterbacks.
SI.com’s Jonathan Jones says to not go overboard on the Wentz hype.
Look, I love a good story as much as anyone but this is ultimately not it. Why have we clung onto this narrative so strongly, so early? It’s because, quite honestly, the on-field action thus far has yet to give us very much else to talk about. The biggest story in the league today is the national anthem protests, but in terms of the games themselves? Not a lot to focus on. There hasn’t been an officiating controversy in the final minute of a primetime game. Cam Newton’s head got banged around to start the season, but it was forgotten about once the new batch of games began a couple of days later.
Despite Pederson’s claims, there is no Peyton Manning in this league. Tom Brady is still suspended. Newton hasn’t returned to his MVP ways. Aaron Rodgers looks to be back to normal, but he had a slow start. So who else do we have to turn to but the young kids slinging it?
There’s no doubt Wentz has played very well so far. No one is arguing that. He’s making 65% of his passes, not turning the ball over and only taking about a sack a game.
But just like Prescott has benefitted from the best offensive line in football, Wentz plays with a defense that has allowed a total of 20 points this year. He’s also not taking many chances on his throws. Wentz is averaging 6.86 yards in the air per pass thrown, according to Football Outsiders. Last week, his two passes that went longer than 20 yards in the air fell incomplete, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Twelve of his 23 completions against Pittsburgh came at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Of course, none of this really matters, because as long as the Eagles keep winning, that Carson Wentz hype train will keep rollin’.
Chase Stuart from FiveThirtyEight explains why the Eagles’ shocking start may and may not continue once the team returns from the bye.
The Eagles’ new head coach, Doug Pederson, had never held that job at the college or pro level before this year. Quarterback Carson Wentz is a rookie, drafted second overall out of a second-tier program at North Dakota State. Together, they became just the second rookie duo at head coach and quarterback to begin a season 3-0 since at least 1950. The first? That was Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez for the 2009 New York Jets. Wentz, Sanchez and Greg Cook of the 1969 Cincinnati Bengals are the only three rookie quarterbacks to win their team’s first three games of a season since 1969, regardless of their head coach’s experience.
What does this mean for the Eagles this season? Three teams with rookie QBs are not much of a historical sample from which to draw conclusions, but we can turn to the sidelines and see how 3-0 teams with rookie coaches fared. From 1990 to 2015, 14 rookie head coaches began a season 3-0. On average, those teams played .500 ball the rest of the way and made the playoffs only 57 percent of the time. Compare those numbers with the rates for 3-0 teams without rookie head coaches — a .605 winning percentage and a 78 percent playoff rate — and it’s clear that rookie head coaches are less likely to keep their teams playing well than their veteran counterparts.
But if this year’s Eagles follow that trend, it wouldn’t be all Pederson’s fault. The record for rookie coaches is somewhat misleading, because teams generally change coaches when they have a bad season. And teams that start 3-0 and were bad the previous season are less likely to play well the rest of the season than teams that start 3-0 and have a better recent history. On average, the 131 teams that went 3-0 from 1990 to 2015 had won 9.1 games the season before. But the 14 of those teams with rookie head coaches averaged 7.4 wins the previous year, compared with an average of 9.3 wins the previous year for the other 117 teams.
Not surprisingly, among 3-0 teams, those that were more successful the previous season were more successful over the remainder of the current season.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com expects the undefeated streak to last for a few more weeks.
4) Philadelphia Eagles
How did we get here? This is an interesting team. Front-office honcho Howie Roseman did a great job turning this ship around. I thought Carson Wentz would be good, but he has far exceeded my expectations. I’ve been surprised by the poise he’s shown, especially coming from a small school; he’s the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year, without question. I think he’s going to be a special quarterback, though I do wonder, as I do with [Trevor] Siemian, what will happen as opponents begin to gather more tape on Wentz. New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s unit has been a big boost so far.
How long will it last? The Eagles should be 5-0 heading into the Week 7 showdown with the Vikings, but asking Wentz to beat that defense is a tall order — [Mike] Zimmer feasts on young quarterbacks. Thus, I think 5-0 is the best we can expect in terms of perfection from the Eagles. Should Philadelphia somehow hold off Minnesota, trips to play the Cowboys in Week 8 and the Giants in Week 9 provide opportunities to stumble. Things get really gnarly in Weeks 11 (at Seahawks) and 12 (vs. Packers).
The Eagles are one of five Super Bowl favorites, as Aaron Schatz for ESPN.com thinks.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)
Odds of making playoffs: 69.0 percent
The Eagles are the No. 1 team in DVOA through three weeks, but they are still kept down in our simulation because of their poor preseason forecast. The forecast could be completely wrong, but it also could be wisely telling us to tamp down our expectations for the Eagles to realistic levels. Nonetheless, giving just 35 percent weight to their performance so far is enough to make the Eagles now one of our top five Super Bowl favorites, behind Seattle, New England, Kansas City and Baltimore.
The backfield of Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles rank in the middle of the NFL at 18, according to Field Yates of ESPN In$ider.
18. Philadelphia Eagles
Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles: This is another duo of backs who offer totally different skill sets. Sproles is as adept a receiver as any running back in football, while Mathews — at 6-0 and 220 pounds — can still be a wear-you-down back when he’s healthy (he had a solid 2015 season). The strength in Philly’s backfield rests in its depth.
In a very early mock draft, the Eagles will select offensive lineman Johnny Caspers from Stanford, opines Chris Burke of SI.com.
27. Johnny Caspers
TRADE VIA MINNESOTA Over the summer Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren told SI that Caspers “probably” projects best as an NFL center. Caspers has spent time there for the Cardinal, though he is better known for his excellent work at guard. He could handle either spot in the NFL, which gives him early-round hope.
A South Jersey brewmaster is creating a beer in honor of Wentz. Melanie Burney of the Inquirer has more.
[Vince] Masciandaro got the idea to develop the recipe after he learned that the German Wheat beer Weihenstephaner Hefeweize was one of Wentz’s favorite beers.Wentz reportedly had a Weihenstephaner at the Belgian Cafe in Fairmount the night before the Eagles’ 34-3 romp at the Linc over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night.Masciandaro said Wentz has good taste in beers. The Wihenstephaner is made at the oldest brewery in the world.
So he decided to tweak his brewery’s version of a traditional German wheat beer, and name it after the rookie sensation.
“I kind of did a play off of that,” Masciandaro said Friday. “It’s a lighter beer; it’s not super heavy, not super strong.”
Masciandaro said the brewery will begin making a batch Saturday morning. The process takes about five to six hours to mix, boil and chill the concoction and then let it ferment.