With the shocking trade of Bradford, the Eagles kept the surprising moves coming as they named Carson Wentz the week one starter against the Cleveland Browns.
THIS JUST IN: Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz will start Week 1 vs the Browns. pic.twitter.com/qpe7sPuJCp
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 5, 2016
Originally, the plan was to let Wentz sit out his rookie season and take a year to develop behind vets such as Bradford and free agent acquisition Chase Daniel – something I was really on board with. That plan was put to an abrupt halt once Bradford was shipped to Minnesota as Doug Pederson is putting his faith in the rookie QB.
I don’t agree with the decision to start Wentz right off the bat for a variety of reasons which I dive into below.
Lack of Experience
It’s never a good thing to throw a young, rookie QB right into the fire – and that is the definition of what the Eagles are doing to Wentz in week one. Wentz was limited to only one preseason game after suffering a rib injury. Not only that, he missed more than half of his senior season at North Dakota State due to injury as well.
It’s safe to say that Wentz will have cold feet. Aside from adjusting to the speed of the NFL against a 1st team defense, he hasn’t played football on a consistent basis in almost a year. Growing pains are to be expected from any rookie QB, but I’m nervous to see how this actually plays out in the opening week and weeks to follow.
When I mention lack of experience, that isn’t limited to just NFL playing time. Wentz played subdivision college ball in the FCS. While he led a dynasty there, that competition doesn’t compare to that in Division I. Even Jared Goff, thought to be more advanced as a pro-ready QB will be non-active in week 1.
While Wentz has a good head on his shoulders and is as tough as they come internally, a poor start to a career can negatively affect one’s morale and confidence in a monumental fashion.
Development – Bring Him Along Slowly
In today’s NFL, teams lack the patience required when bringing along a young, hopeful franchise QB. As much as teams don’t want to face the fact, it takes time. Unless you’re a blue-chip prospect like Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, you shouldn’t be starting from day one. Carson Wentz is not at the caliber of the aforementioned players, at this stage at least.
Jared Goff was the more pro-ready of the two highly rated QB prospects. While I had Wentz rated higher based on upside, he just isn’t ready to carry the torch. If Goff isn’t starting week 1, Wentz definitely shouldn’t be either.
It would be much more beneficial for both the Eagles and Wentz if they brought him along slowly and showed patience with his maturation and development. As I touch on below, the Eagles are not a contender this year, so Wentz should not be playing this early in his career.
While he’s reportedly back to full health, there’s no need to risk further injury so soon. I hate to say it but I expect Wentz to take a beating within the first few games. Hard hits to the mid-section/upper body can easily aggravate an already existing rib injury. Just give him more time – better to be safe than sorry.
This injury is a good amount of time behind him, but a wrist injury kept him sidelined more than half of last at North Dakota State. He’s no stranger to injury.
It’s well-documented that the Eagles have one of the worst WR corps in the entire league. Jordan Mathews is their top WR, that says it all right there. There is limited depth and experience to follow. It’s crucial for a rookie QB to have reliable, consistent weapons in the passing game. If not, the offense and overall flow of the offense will suffer. Zach Ertz is a nice target at TE, but it will be easy for teams to gameplan around him.
The offensive line is a decent unit, but it has been on the regression and showed liability in pass protection at times last season. Wentz will face his fair share of pressure and limiting hits will be pivotal.
The Eagles in no way, shape or form are going to make a playoff push this season, so why rush Wentz onto the field? Based on the package of picks you gave up to move to the #2 pick in this past NFL Draft, he’s clearly the centerpiece of this rebuilding movement. You don’t want to tamper with his confidence heading into future years. Give it another year or so for the front office to bring in more pieces around him before you throw him out there like a deer in headlights.
Now if you don’t start Carson Wentz in week 1, who’s the man under center going to be? You guessed it, none other than the ‘prized’ free agent, Chase Daniel. After serving as a longtime backup in Kansas City where he worked with new head coach Doug Pederson, Daniel cashed in this past offseason and will be set to make roughly $7 million this year. A hefty price to pay for someone who will be riding the pine.
Daniel can serve as a viable stopgap until Wentz is actually ready to hit the field from both a health and developmental standpoint. Daniel is more familiar with the system than Wentz and clearly has more years in the league. Give the guy you’re paying a boatload of cash with some playing time and make him earn his money the old-fashioned way.