After becoming the first rookie quarterback since 1970 to start and win his first two games, Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz is blowing away expectations.
Through two games, Wentz has completed 60.6% of his passes for 438 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 94 passer rating.
Already, Wentz is being called a franchise quarterback for an Eagles team that’s 2-0 and more competitive than many were expecting.
All of which must feel like a gut punch for the Cleveland Browns.
Prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, the Browns and Eagles completed a blockbuster trade, with the Eagles sending four picks to the Browns to move up to the No. 2 spot in the draft. In the weeks thereafter, much of the discussion of the draft was whether the Rams and Eagles would take quarterbacks Jared Goff or Wentz with the first two picks. The Rams, of course, took Goff and the Eagles took Wentz.
With Wentz showing the poise and skill of a veteran quarterback through two games (though it’s fair to question his opposition, given the wins came against the 0-2 Browns and 0-2 Bears), the Browns might be kicking themselves.
Already the Browns are in the midst of a quarterback crisis. The Robert Griffin III reclamation project fell flat after Griffin broke a bone in his shoulder in Week 1 and is expected to be out for 10-12 weeks. Then, in Week 2, backup QB Josh McCown suffered a shoulder injury that may keep him out “a while.” That leaves the Browns with rookie QB Cody Kessler or recently signed journeyman Charlie Whitehurst.
Though the Browns are in full rebuild mode, a long-term answer to quarterback continues to evade them. Surely, they’d like a rookie quarterback with this kind of touch (via NFL.com)
Or the ability to hang in the pocket and make a throw before getting bulldozed (via NFL.com)
The rest of the NFL world is impressed with Wentz. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after the Week 2 win:
“Again, by no means was it perfect, but at the same time he’s seeing things really well and he’s commanding the huddle. And the dialogue on the sideline with players and coaches with him is something a nine- or 10-year vet would do, and it’s just showing his maturity and the ability that he has to play quarterback.”
Bears coach John Fox said prior to the game:
“I saw a guy that can make all the throws. He made good decisions. I think he was a guy that was very-highly touted coming out, I know he was in our room. From what I understand, he is an outstanding teammate. But I think, all in all, for a first game, he did a great job.”
ESPN’s Jon Gruden was impressed after Wentz and the Eagles beat the Bears, saying, “He came in here with a no-huddle offence, no backset, went right down the field for a field goal. Two weeks in row they score on their opening drive. He showed toughness in the pocket, great command of this offence, no turnovers….”
While Wentz is an early darling of the NFL season, it’s tough to say if the Browns’ trade was a bad decision on the whole. The Browns traded several of the picks they got in return from the Eagles en route to drafting 14 players this year. They also have stockpiled many more picks for the 2017 draft. The Browns, like the 76ers in the NBA, are betting that with enough picks, they can draft a young, talented core to develop through their rebuild.
Still, no NFL team can contend without a stable quarterback, and the Browns appear far from finding one. With Wentz looking like the future in Philadelphia, the Eagles’ rebuild already has a key component that the Browns have been struggling for years to find.
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