October 11, 2017
The Eagles' 34-7 win over the Cardinals in Week 5 was also Carson Wentz's best game as an NFL quarterback, and that extends beyond the numbers available in the box score. Because quarterback is a unique position, the responsibilities don't start when the ball is snapped and then suddenly stop when a tackle is made.
Anyone who has watched the Eagles play over the last two seasons can tell you that Wentz is doing more at the line of scrimmage, changing the protections and even the plays based on what the defense shows prior to the snap. On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson compared it to what future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning used to do.
With just 21 NFL games under his belt, Wentz has already proven more than competent in handling the Eagles offense.
According to offensive coordinator Frank Reich, there's "no doubt" that Wentz has command of the line of scrimmage. In fact, to hear Reich tell it, that confidence in the 24-year-old dates back to before the Eagles drafted him second overall out of North Dakota State, back to when they were still scouting him.
"From the time that we all started evaluating Carson, even in college, when we all went down there as a group to evaluate him, you could tell he was acting like those guys who all of us – Flip [QB coach John DeFilippo] and Coach Pederson and Howie [Roseman], all of us have been around a lot of great quarterbacks, he had those traits," Reich said on Tuesday. "He talked like it, he walked like it."
And when Reich says Wentz "talked like" a great quarterback – you know, someone like Peyton Manning – he didn't just mean during his interviews with Eagles brass.
"I remember going there and [Wentz] saying that his coaches used to say he had a lot of arguments with his offensive coordinator," Reich continued. "For me, I took that as a good thing, because he knew what he wanted, he knew what was good, and we welcomed that and that's a good dynamic."
Apparently, that hasn't changed too much in the year and a half since he was drafted by the Eagles. And the relationship between coach, coordinator and player – all NFL QBs at one time or another – is such that they take stock of what their quarterback has to say, because they trust he knows what he's talking about.
"I wouldn't call them arguments," Reich said when asked if that trait has carried over to Wentz's pro career. "We're all stubborn. Coaches, players, you’re very confident in what you know and what you believe and what you want. And so we have good discussions and we take a lot of input from Carson, like we do with all of our players.
"Certainly from the quarterback position there's a unique contribution I think that you can make and that he can make, but he's still – what we appreciate about him is that he's mature enough to understand there's a process."
Wentz, who admitted to popping in Pederson's office at least once a day – and sometimes more – to discuss the game plan or playbook, didn't want to dub these debates as "arguments" but agreed that the dialogue between he and the coaches is part of the reason they have such a good relationship.
"I guess I wouldn't call them 'arguments' with my offensive coordinator in college. He was a real fired-up guy so we had some healthy discussions a lot," Wentz said later on Tuesday. "But it's really good – the relationship with Coach Pederson and Coach Reich has been really, really solid. We've had a lot of open dialogue. I respect the heck out of their opinions and I'm thankful they respect mine as well. It's been really beneficial for me and for the whole team."
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