Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Next Brady vs. Manning?
The two rookies haven’t even played each other yet, but players and coaches are already saying the burgeoning rivalry between Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott could be the a Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning-like matchup for years to come.
“Peyton and Brady — that’s an extremely high honor to be mentioned with those guys. But obviously, I’ve spoken highly of Carson; I know he can be named with those guys with more years of playing. Also, I have a high respect for Dak, too,” Jordan Matthews said. “(Prescott) has a good mindset. You’re talking about a guy who is a poised quarterback. He knows what it means to be a leader. He knows what it means to be game-planned for, and I feel like Carson is the same way.
“The thing I love about Carson, obviously, is he has that same ability, but he also has a chip on his shoulder. So you’re talking about two guys that could potentially be like a Brady and Peyton rivalry. The only difference is you’re going to get this two times a year and possibly playoffs. It’s a fun thing to be a part of, but I’m glad we got (Wentz).”
Prescott and Wentz took opposite paths to reach their current success — Prescott starred at an SEC school, but he wasn’t drafted until the fourth round, as opposed to the No. 2 overall pick who didn’t even play FBS football in college — but their journeys intersected multiple times during the pre-draft process.
The two quarterbacks played on opposing teams at the Senior Bowl, where they got to know each other a bit at lunch and around Mobile, Alabama. Then, they spent more time together at the NFL Combine, where they were in the same throwing group throughout the day. Both quarterbacks also visited Philadelphia before the draft — albeit separately — which Prescott labeled a “good,” “fun” trip because he “loved” Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich.
“It could potentially be there,” Prescott said of the potential rivalry. “It will always be — I know to me and I hope to Carson — the Eagles vs. the Cowboys. But us being the quarterbacks, and us being the guys there, I feel like, yeah, it could create something that could go over time.”
With the two rookies quarterbacking their teams to the top two spots in the NFC East standings — the 5-1 Cowboys are in first, while the 4-2 Eagles are in second — many have been surprised at their early success, given the difficulty most young signal-callers face in the NFL. But Doug Pederson noted both guys have the required leadership ability and skills to prepare themselves to win each week. The Eagles’ head coach also added that Wentz and Prescott emerged out of college more “NFL ready” because they learned how to handle success in college.
Matthews, on the other hand, points to how both quarterbacks simply got an opportunity to start with good supporting casts. While Wentz has one of the NFL’s best defenses and special teams units supporting him, Prescott is surrounded by a ton of talent along the offensive line, in his receiving corp and at running back.
“One, you definitely got to be fearless. That’s the biggest thing because if they put you out there, but your mindset is, ‘I’m going to need a couple of years to get this going,’ then you’re definitely not going to be able to come in and do what you need to do,” Matthews said. “But also, the thing about the NFL I don’t think people give enough credit to is you have to have a good opportunity. Your opportunities and then the situations you get put in are usually going to determine how well you are lots of times as an NFL athlete.
“When my receiver class came in, everybody was like, ‘This class just defied everything we ever thought about wide receivers.’ But at the end of the day, too, before this the trend was a lot of receivers got drafted and they always went to teams with an older guy and got eased in. Well, most of us came in and were automatically the No. 1 receiver. … Just having that situation and opportunities, you’re going to naturally do better.”
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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
A number of wide receivers are avoiding the recent trade rumors, pens Andrew Kulp of CSNPhilly.com.
The Eagles’ current crop of receivers hasn’t been very impactful, particularly Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff and Dorial Green-Beckham. Yet despite disappointing numbers, constant questions about their lack of production and now rumblings somebody like Torrey Smith or Alshon Jeffery could be coming to take their jobs, the young trio doesn’t sound too worried.
“We all have a job to do here, and if you’re worried about somebody else, you’re going to lose sight of your own job,” Agholor said. “Just like anybody else in any workplace, you need to focus on yourself and execute your job.”
“That has nothing to do with me,” Huff said. “As long as I’m confident in the way I do my job, everything else will speak for itself.”
“It’s something I’m completely not worried about,” Green-Beckham added. “I’m really just focusing on myself and whatever happens, happens.”
Although the team struggles on third down, Doug Pederson is so far perfect on fourth-down conversions, writes the Inquirer’s Zach Berman.
In six games this season, coach Doug Pederson’s team has been perfect on fourth downs. The Eagles don’t have many, but they don’t miss when Pederson keeps the offense on the field. The Eagles are 5 for 5 – one of three teams with a perfect fourth-down percentage.
“My personality is probably a little more conservative by nature, I think,” Pederson said. “You’d probably agree with that. But I trust our guys and I trust our offensive line and I think it sends a great message to the rest of the team, to the defense and special teams. That ‘Hey, if we can convert this and stay on the field,’ it sends a good message.“And on the other side of that, if you do convert, [it’s about] the message you send to the other team and the fact that you’re going to stay aggressive.”
The five attempts rank middle-of-the-pack in the NFL, but they’re not always fourth and inches. In fact, only one of those attempts has been on a fourth and 1. Two have been on fourth-and-2 attempts, one on a fourth and 4, and one on a fourth and 6. The two other teams with a perfect fourth-down percentage (Dallas, 3 for 3, and Detroit, 5 for 5) have gone for it mostly with one yard needed.
Frank Reich and Jim Schwartz address the media at 10:50.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.