Wed. Jan 19th, 2022

The Philadelphia Eagles’ 2015 season, the most disappointing season since the end of the Andy Reid era in 2012, ended at a pitiful 4-12. They weren’t the least talented team in the league, or even the division, but the coaching staff lost their players. The 2015 season was deja vu. Despite missing the playoffs, the team was coming off back to back 10-6 seasons. The organization and fans were expecting that this year the team would get past the hump with their “genius” coach. A 7-9 finish didn’t seem possible, but that became the harsh reality.

After an ugly and undisciplined loss at home week 16 against Washington to hand them the division title, Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Eagles, made an unprecedented move that impacted the franchise and thousands of fans across the country. Without warning, he shipped Chip Kelly out of town with a week to go in the 2015 season. Doug Pederson, a former Eagles quarterback and current coach for the Eagles, was brought in during the offseason to restore the stability and success the franchise saw in the early 2000s.

When introducing Pederson to the media, Lurie stated that, “The main features with Doug that really impressed all of us, and especially myself, were first, he is real smart. He’s a real smart, strategic thinker. I think what Doug brings also is an understanding of the passion of our fans in Philadelphia. He understands how dedicated and obsessed we all are to bring a Super Bowl to Philadelphia.”

Howie Roseman was restored his power after Coach Kelly replaced him as executive vice president of football operations. It was time for him to go to the drawing board and begin to erase the former coach’s mistakes. Originally the Eagles held the 13th pick in the 2016 NFL draft. That was until Roseman sent slow, under-productive cornerback Byron Maxwell and injury-prone linebacker Kiko Alonso to Miami in exchange for their eighth pick. Both players were Kelly additions. In a blockbuster trade, Roseman and the Eagles acquired the 2nd pick in the draft by sending the 8th pick in this draft and their first round pick in 2017, amongst other later round picks, to the Cleveland Browns. There was a lot of chatter that the Eagles had made a poor decision to move up to number two, to select whichever quarterback the first-pick Los Angeles, did not want.

Roseman explained, “You have to be very comfortable with both of those quarterbacks and believe they have a shot to be great, Pro Bowl-caliber. It’s hard to be great if you don’t take some risks.”

With the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Carson Wentz, a quarterback from North Dakota State. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of the kid until the offseason but I was intrigued by the high praise the young QB was given.

During Jon Gruden’s pre-draft football camp, he stated, “Wentz is the most NFL ready quarterback we’ve had in here the past couple of years.”

At 6’5”, 240 pounds, Wentz has the size and physical stature that would compare to Ben Roethlisberger’s. North Dakota coaches praised Wentz from on-field execution to off-the-field preparations.

Randy Hedberg, Wentz’s quarterback coach at ND stated, “The ball comes out quick, and he can throw from a lot of different platforms.”

Where great quarterbacks separate themselves from good quarterbacks is with the intangibles; coachability, consistency, mental toughness, work ethic, and leadership are among the top qualities.

An AFC executive told NFL.com, “Wentz really blew us away at the combine. Talent is a big component, but these guys have to have intangibles if they are going to lead franchises and he’s got them. I don’t care where he played, he understands the game and it isn’t too big for him.”

The Philadelphia Eagles were comfortable enough to send a consider- able amount of draft picks to Cleveland for Wentz, but their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, did not feel comfortable with his job security. Bradford and his agent decided after Wentz was drafted that they would request a trade and hold out of vol- untary workouts. When he finally returned, Coach Pederson confirmed Bradford was still the starter.

“I’ve said all along that Sam’s the guy,” Pederson stated. “Going into Sept. 11, Sam’s the guy. I’ll stick with that. Chase is our No. 2, and Carson is our No. 3.’’

That was, until, Teddy Bridgewater went down in practice with a horrifying knee injury during Minnesota’s practice a week and a half before their first regular season game. Vikings appeared in full panic-mode and agreed to terms with the Eagles for their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, in exchange for their 2017 first-round draft pick, which, for the first time in history, is being held in Philadelphia. Coach Pederson talked about why he’s comfortable with the team’s decision of trading their starting quarterback a week before the first game.

“This is what I believe in, this is what this organization believes in. I’m very comfortable with our football team and Carson being our starter.”

The head coach said he challenged his football team to rally behind the rookie and that the expectations for the season don’t change.

Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t fail to deliver on the first Sunday of the 2016-2017 NFL season. They faced off against Cleveland, the team that traded away their opportunity to a franchise quarterback, and he made them pay. The Eagles came out victorious, 29-10, in Wentz’s NFL debut. Wentz completed 22 of 37 passes for 278 yards, two touchdowns with zero interceptions. The Philadelphia Eagles franchise and fanbase has starved for a franchise quarterback since Donovan McNabb’s abrupt departure after the 2009 season. It took McNabb 27 games in the NFL before he threw more than 250 yards with two TDs, also against Cleveland.

I don’t think fans should get ahead of themselves and claim Philadelphia has the answer to all their problems in Wentz. Week one was against the Browns, who could have a historically poor defensive season considering their injuries on both sides of the ball.

But Wentz proved week one that he is every bit of a franchise quarterback. Coach Pederson after Wentz’s big debut victory stated, “It’s not surprising, because of us and myself being around him for so long now, and just knowing the maturity level that he has. And he really handled himself great all week long. He prepared like he was a five-, six-year veteran, and obviously, he played that way.”

Go and get your #11 Wentz jersey, Eagles fans. It won’t always look as good and as easy as last Sunday against Cleveland, but Philadelphia has its hands on a prime, young talent, in a position that is very hard to find talent.

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said, “From a veteran on the team, I think everyone has a lot of confidence in Carson. You know that even if he makes mistakes, he’s not going to be gun shy, and he’s not going to let the mistake ruin his day.”

Philadelphia has been desperately looking for a Super Bowl since its creation in 1967.

“That’s the goal,” Wentz said. “I hope to call Philadelphia my home for a long time. Hopefully we can win a lot of games, win Super Bowls. But, you have to take it one day at a time. I’m holding myself to high expectations and hopefully we’ll win a lot of games.”

Dakota Schlater is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at DS805452@wcupa.edu.

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