The paths of Carson Wentz and Jared Goff will be forever intertwined. Two teams mortgaged their future in order to trade up and acquire the services of one of the top quarterback talents in last year’s draft class. It was a time of uncertainty and excitement for both franchises. One year later, there is still a sense of those same emotions, but for very different reasons.
It’s easy to wonder ‘What if?’. What if the Rams did pull the trigger on Carson Wentz? What if it was Jared Goff who fell gracefully into the laps of the Eagles at number 2? It was a realistic possibility. The Eagles spent plenty of time with the Cal product during the Draft process and just over a season and a half later, it appears that all of the pre-draft evaluations on both quarterbacks have come to fruition.
“We obviously looked at him closely.” Offensive coordinator said on his personal experience with the Rams quarterback. “Thought highly of him as a quarterback-mentality person. His tape was all good, all positive. Had high opinions of him.”
The consensus before the draft was that while Goff may have been the more polished prospect who competed against a higher level of competition, the pro-style experience that Carson Wentz brought to the table would make him just has dangerous. While Goff had never taken a snap under center prior to being drafted, his touch on the deep ball was clear. Wentz meanwhile, brought a strong work ethic and the promise of a 6’5 gunslinger who would lead through his play on the field. Their rookie seasons debatably went as many expected, despite circumstances nobody could have predicted. Goff struggled to adapt to life in the NFL under Jeff Fisher, while Wentz showed signs of developing into the franchise quarterback the Eagles drafted him to be.
“Well, you see a lot of the same characteristics in the two quarterbacks.” Doug Pederson alluded to in his Wednesday press conference. “Obviously size, strength, athleticism. Both have great IQ, football intelligence. And athletic guys in both quarterbacks.
I think, too, in both cases, it just comes down to having really good coaching around each quarterback, each young quarterback, and you can see the growth that Jared’s made over the course of the past year. And obviously it’s a direct relationship to the run game and the offensive line staying intact, and playing great defense and special teams.
So all of that is something that they have benefitted this season, and Jared has done a nice job with that and obviously he’s being coached well.”
Being coached well would be an understatement. After tossing 5 touchdowns during his 7 games as a rookie, Goff has 20 under his belt in year two. Completing 244-of-392 passing attempts and throwing just six interceptions, Goff comes into this matchup with a 98.4 QB rating. What’s scary for the Eagles is that he has been heating up…really, really fast.
Goff established a career-best 355 yards passing vs. Houston in Week 10 win and a career-high 146.8 QB rating in Week 9 win against the Giants, where he averaged 22.2 yards per completion.
“He’s still young. They’re using him a lot the same way that Washington uses [QB] Kirk Cousins.” Jim Schwartz explained earlier this week. “A lot of the same kind of plays, a lot of deep balls down the field. He’s got confidence in throwing the deep ball. He’s got some scramble ability, nothing like we faced last week, but he’s moved around a little bit. Run some boots and play-action stuff. He’s had a good command of the offense.”
Jared Goff is the only quarterback in Rams history to pass for 300-plus yards, three touchdown and no interceptions in consecutive games. He is also one-of-five quarterbacks this season to post multiple games with that feat, joining Alex Smith, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady. It’s safe to say that under Sean McVay, Goff has spread the ball around beautifully and flourished under the command of a quarterback guru. Leading the NFL in scoring, Goff and the Rams have been tearing through opponents in a similar fashion to the Eagles…and that’s where Carson Wentz comes in.
Wentz leads the NFL with 29 passing TDs, which is tied for the 4th- most in Eagles single-season history. The 2nd-overall pick to Goff is just the third QB to throw 29+ TDs and no more than 6 INTs through 12 games, joining Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers as the only quarterbacks to do so. Staggeringly, he’s also thrown 1+ TD and no more than 1 INT in 14 straight games, which is the longest streak in Eagles history and the longest streak by an NFL player since Matt Ryan’s 21 game stretch between 12/20/15 and 9/17/17.
The NFC offensive player of the month back in October, Carson Wentz has set the league alight with his dazzling ability to extend plays, his humility and his huge leap from year one to year two. Wentz has been a breath of fresh air into a City that was crying out for a gust of wind and has become more than just the future of the Eagles, he’s become a cultural inspiration.
The fruits of the 2016 NFL Draft are being labored. Both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are legitimate MVP candidates and face-off for the first time on Sunday. This is marquee matchup that could last for years. Both NFC powerhouses are becoming offensive juggernauts with rampant run-games, dominant defenses and sensational special teams. To become contenders for the next 5 years and beyond, they need a franchise quarterback. And it’s safe to say that both teams have found their man.
There is no regret for the Philadelphia Eagles. No longing for what might have been, no questioning ‘what if’ scenarios. Carson Wentz is here to stay. A player who has had a massive impact in the community away from the field, and in the hearts of the fans who surround it. Wentz is more than just a quarterback…he’s the player who will inspire a generation of NFL players. The beauty of it is, that Jared Goff will too…and we will be treated for a rivalry between stars for years and years to come.
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Marton, File