The Eagles shocked the NFL world for what seems like the millionth time this season, trading Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a first round pick this year and a fourth round pick next year. The fallout of this has been equally surprising, with the general consensus being that if healthy, the Eagles are all in on Carson Wentz this season. It’s hard to really say if this move is right, or wrong..but there are plenty of cases for each. Here are some pro’s and cons of starting Carson Wentz.
*UPDATE: Today, the Eagles officially announced Carson Wentz as their starting QB.
Better for his development?:
A championship was never realistically attainable for this team heading into 2016, it was always set to be the first step on the stairway to the Super Bowl. But with Lane Johnson’s potential suspension, a wide receiver group where the oldest player is 24 and Sam Bradford traded, the Eagles Offense is going to face a tough season.
With that in mind, practical experience is always better than learning mentally..and with the pressure of having to succeed and carry this team on his shoulders for a deep playoff run in 2016, it gives Wentz a season without real consequence where he can learn and adapt to life as a starter in the NFL, somewhat eradicating the process from next season which promises to be a serious challenge to the NFC crown.
If the Eagles are all in on Wentz like their fans are, it does make sense to get him as much game time as possible, knowing he is the future franchise quarterback with Bradford out of the picture. The pressure should be lifted from the shoulders of Wentz, meaning he has breathing room when it comes to mistakes and can develop his craft tenfold over what he would be able to do on the sidelines.
An extra element:
In Kansas City last year, Doug Pederson watched as starting quarterback Alex Smith rushed for 498 yards and 2 touchdowns on 84 attempts. While Sam Bradford may have been the perfect fit for an “Alex Smith system QB” in terms of his presence and awareness inside the pocket, he severely lacked the rushing aspect. Carson Wentz on the other hand, has athleticism in bunches.
In 7 games last year, Wentz rushed for 294 yards and 6 touchdowns, rushing for 642 yards in the season before. At 6’6, Carson Wentz is scarily athletic..and the league knows it. Tying for second among all quarterbacks in his class when it came to the 40-yard dash at the combine, Wentz, as he proved in preseason..can extend plays as well as making something out of nothing. A skill crucial to the success of Pederson’s scheme.
He may not have the current talent of Sam Bradford, but in a league where mobility is becoming increasingly important, Wentz shines..and brings something to Pederson’s Offense this year that would have otherwise been redundant.
Familiarity and chemistry:
It became clear to many that Bradford’s time in Philadelphia was going to be short-lived after such a controversial offseason. With Wentz being the QB of the future, it makes sense to get him familiar with a very young WR corps that is set to develop with him, some young linemen looking to do the same and begin to establish the leadership role he is destined to claim.
It took Sam Bradford a while to gain the confidence in himself as a leader of this team and the relationships with the rest of the Offense on the field. The result was an under utilized Nelson Agholor, some tough opening weeks before a complete turnaround for the likes of Zach Ertz in the second half of the season, who went on a historic run.
If Wentz has an entire 2016 season to become at one with the Offense and build the relationships with his teammates, learning their strengths and weaknesses while simultaneously improving his own game..it puts the Offense in a much better stead for the 2017 season.
Sink or swim:
The Eagles Offense, as aforementioned..is going to be in a transitional situation heading into week one. The oldest receiver is 24 years old in a corps where there are plenty of concerns and the Offensive line has many questions of its own..even more so after the backups who could become regular features arguably contributing the beating Wentz suffered against the Bucs.
If Johnson does get suspended, the Eagles may have eleven Offensive linemen, but after a rollercoaster preseason for the backups and remembering the degenerative injury Jason Peters is having to cope with in a new zone-run blocking scheme, the Line could be of serious concern. Not to mention the earl bye-week which could also prove to be vital.
The situation is not ideal for Carson Wentz..and while it’s exciting to see the future of the franchise starting in his rookie season, it’s important to remember that this is an Offense with an abundance of potential problems and setbacks going forward, all of which could impact Wentz.
Is he ready?:
Carson Wentz had a bumpy training camp, which is to be expected with any rookie quarterback. But a frequent wobble to his passes that acted as an underlying reminder that he’s still a very raw talent..which is what he was drafted as.
Doug Pederson wanted a project quarterback. Someone to develop and marinate in his system until such a time as he is ready to start and lead the franchise. The quarterback class was filled with high-ceiling rookies who didn’t quite have the current starting poise that Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston had a year ago..and that wasn’t lost on Doug Pederson.
But with Bradford gone and Carson Wentz throwing just 24 preseason passes, is he ready to lead a franchise? The Eagles were very high in their praises of Carson Wentz after his performance against the Bucs, but if Bradford was still here..he would still be third on the depth chart..and it’s tough to see how large the dropoff in performance is going to be.
Not that it’s going to set the Eagles back any further Offensively and there are certainly more pro’s to starting him than sitting him..but it is an interesting question to ask, has Wentz been rushed along in his progression after a Training camp where his raw talents were still just that, impressive..but raw.
The Eagles may have freed up some cap space in trading Sam Bradford..(who at this point seems like a business tycoon, earning $78M for 78 NFL career touchdowns and now will be dropped into a team deep in the playoff hunt) but there is a flip side not being noted by many.
The Eagles have essentially paid Sam Bradford $11M to pay for the Minnesota Vikings..and if their backup quarterback, Chase Daniel drops behind Wentz (although his role would be the same, in a grander sense he becomes the third string after being signed as a backup) the Eagles will have signed Daniel to a 3-year, $21M deal to sit when the team need a backup..that’s $32M worth of quarterback not playing in 2016.
Daniel may only be earning a fraction of his contract this season, but with such a sudden change of heart, the Eagles are either all in on Wentz due to what they see in him, or they realized they simply overcompensated on Chase Daniel, who was beyond underwhelming in preseason.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images