October 20, 2016
Sunday's game between the Eagles and the Vikings should not be used to gauge which team won the trade that propelled second-overall pick Carson Wentz into the starting quarterback spot and sent Sam Bradford to Minnesota for a first-round pick and a conditional fourth rounder. Nor should the team's final record for the 2016 season.
That verdict is already in. And it's the hung jury of sports takes.
"I think it's been a win-win, honestly," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said on Wednesday. "In our case, our first-round, second-overall pick is getting a chance to play this early; getting his feet wet, learning, putting us in a great spot at 3-2. He's played a lot of football. He's getting better every week.
And from their standpoint, they got a good quarterback. He went to a playoff-caliber football team with a tremendous defense."
He's not wrong, especially when you consider the fact that the Birds got more in return for Bradford than anyone not named Howie Roseman thought was possible. There's no need to overthink this. No need to factor in which player the Eagles draft with the pick(s) they got from the Vikings. No need to worry about which team has more success in the next couple of years.
Whether the trade works out slightly better for one team than the other, it's hard to argue that it didn't benefit both teams involved to some extent.
But that's not going to stop people from talking about it.
"Yeah, you know, there's pressure every week," Pederson said when asked about protecting his rookie from . I get the fact that the trade happened. But our focus is within our building and the guys we have and getting our guys ready to play. I'm not going to put any added pressure on Carson...
"I know there's going to be a lot of peripheral stuff probably said or written about these two [quarterbacks]. Whoever plays or whoever wins, this one played better than that one, this and that and the other, and the decisions – and I get all that. But the decision has been made and [Carson] is our guy, and we're going to get him ready to play each and every week."
As one would expect, Wentz feels the same way.
“I don’t get caught up in that at all," he said. "It’s the Vikings vs. the Eagles. They’re coming in here, and it’ll be a good one.”
And with focus shifting from the Eagles' 27-20 loss to the Redskins to their upcoming matchup against Bradford and the undefeated Vikings, there's been a lot of talk around NovaCare about the trade that abruptly shifted the course of the entire Eagles franchise.
Abrupt may be an understatement. Everything happened so quickly that when the phone rang on Wednesday for Bradford's conference call, it was the first time since the trade that he spoke with the Philly media.
Here's a full transcript (with some addition Wentz quotes at the bottom):
On if it's odd to be playing against the team you were expecting be starting for: “Yeah, it is a little strange. I think I said it today when I was talking to our guys here — if you would have told me six weeks ago that we were getting ready to play this game, I would’ve thought that I was going to be playing for the Eagles and we’d be getting prepared to play the Vikings. So, the fact that it’s the other way around, and I’m playing against the Eagles, it’s definitely not something I expected.”
I was really excited to be in Philly this year. I thought we had a really good preseason. I was really excited to build on what we did in the second half of last year.
How big of an advantage is it having been here: "I really don't know if it's that big of [an advantage] at all. Obviously, it helps that I've been there, that I'm familiar with the personnel, but the system we're running here is completely different than we ran against [the Eagles] defense in training camp. Again, that was the preseason, this is the regular season. I think things change when you get into the regular season. Obviously, they'll have a gameplan specifically designed to stop us and what we do. So from that standpoint, I'm not sure how much of a help it is. I think, probably, just knowing the personnel over there, that probably helps a little bit."
On if there was a bitterness when the trade happened: “It was one of those things that happened so fast, I didn’t really have time to process it, and I still honestly haven’t sat down and thought it all the way through. Kind of like I told you guys in training camp and during the preseason, I was really excited to be in Philly this year. I thought we had a really good preseason. I was really excited to build on what we did in the second half of last year. And I think when you spend so much time with the guys in that building, when you’re around the same people for a year and a half, and you put the time in to develop those relationships on and off the field, and then it just comes to an end without really having a chance to say goodbye, to go out on the field one last time and play with those guys, I think there’s always a little part of you where you’re down about that. But, I’ve seen a lot in seven years, and I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. I’m excited for every opportunity that’s given to me. I just try to take it one day at a time.”
On if he got the sense that he was blocking the Eagles future: “I’m not sure. I think that’s a better question for Doug [Pederson] or Howie [Roseman] and how they feel. It’s kind of hard for me to answer that.”
On how much he’s followed the Eagles and Wentz this season: “I’ve tried to watch them when I can. Like I said, I still have a lot of really good friends on that team. I enjoy watching them play and watching them have success, so I’ve tried to watch as much as possible. Just, from what Carson’s done, it’s been awesome to see him play the way he has. And it really doesn’t surprise me. I think if you look at him — where he came in at in OTAs, the progress he made, the way he playing at the end of training camp — he was playing at a really high level. So, for him to come in and have the success that he’s had, it really doesn’t surprise me.”
On how different the pressures are in Minnesota compared to Philly: “You know, I’ve said this before, I think that regardless of where I’m at, I’m always going to put more pressure on myself to play well than anyone on the outside. I think you guys know me, I don’t really pay attention to much outside of the building, outside of what I’m focused on. So even though I’m in Minnesota — it’s obviously different than Philadelphia — I still demand a lot from myself and put pressure on myself to go out there and play well each week.”
On what caught him more off guard: the trade to get Carson or him being traded to Minnesota: “Probably the trade to Minnesota, to be honest, because it was completely off my radar. It just wasn’t something that I was even thinking about. When I got that phone call on Saturday morning, I did a little double take. But, like I said, in this league, I’ve seen enough to know you’ve kind of just got to stay prepared for anything at any time. You’ve just got to roll with it and make the best of any situation you’re in.”
On what he was doing when he got the call saying he was traded: “I had actually just woken up. It was at like eight in the morning on Saturday and me and wife had just planned — I think OU was playing that day and we planned to just hang out, watch the OU game, enjoy the weekend off. And then, next thing you know, I get the phone call and I’m on a plane to Minnesota and by that afternoon, I’m learning a new offense.”
On if any rumors got to him before the actual news did: “Nope.”
On what he did with his home in N.J.: “My wife was able to go back, I think she ended up making it back a week or two weeks afterward. We had gone to Oklahoma for just a few days, so we didn’t really have that much in the way of clothes or anything. So she got us more clothes and then kind of got everything marked and packed up for the movers and then our stuff finally got to Minnesota about a month after the trade.”
On what it’s like being on a team that’s playing so well: “It’s been a lot of fun. I think everyone will agree, winning cures all. And when you’re winning, work’s more fun and you enjoy life more. It’s just a better feeling in the building when you’re winning. And so, for us to play the way we have early, to be winning, it’s just been a lot of fun. Obviously, I’m still kind of getting to know this place, this organization, my teammates, but it’s been fun so far and I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.”
I thought [Wentz] was playing at a very high level. I think mentally, he’s very sharp; I think he understands the game. ... So, like I said, I don’t think I’m surprised with the way he’s playing right now.
On what he attributes the Vikings’ success to this season: “I don’t know. Obviously, I think I’m surrounded by a great group of guys in this locker room — we’ve got a lot of talent across the board. From the moment I got here, everyone’s had my back; they’ve been very supportive. They’ve all stayed after to throw with me, to help me understand concepts, watch film. Everyone’s offered a helping hand in this process early and so it’s really been nice knowing that the guys in this locker room have had my back since Day 1. Obviously, it’s a little different for everyone, especially when you come in the week of the regular season, but I think just that, and kind of going through what I’ve gone through. Being different places, going through injuries, the perspective I have now on the game, on life, I think my mindset is just in a better place than it has been in the past.”
On what kind of reception he expects on Sunday: “[Laugh] Uh, what kind of reception do you guys expect? Yeah. Listen, I know what it’s going to be like, obviously since I was there last year. It’s a tough atmosphere for road teams to play, I get that. I think we all understand that when we come up there. I’m sure there will be a little extra there for us this week too. But I’m not really too focused on what it’s going to be like.”
On if there was any relief with the trade (since he had asked for one before): “I don’t know. I think, at the point of the trade, I had accepted being in Philadelphia; I was excited about being in Philadelphia this year. I was looking forward to playing with those guys this year. Obviously, you put in a lot of time with them during the offseason, during training camp. So I really was looking forward to that. So when I got the call, I’m not really sure if there was any relief.”
On if he thought Wentz was ready immediately following the trade: “Honestly, I didn’t really put a lot of thought into it since I pretty much had to learn a new offense that day. But, like I said, I just think that watching him progress, I know he was hurt but, just watching what he was able to do in the preseason when he was playing, I thought he was playing at a very high level. I think mentally he’s very sharp; I think he understands the game. He was great with the protections, with the checks. So, like I said, I don’t think I’m surprised with the way he’s playing right now.”
On what he’ll remember most about his time in Philly: “My time in Philly? Probably just the guys. I made some relationships, some friendships on that team that will hopefully last a lifetime. I really do mean it when I say that I really enjoyed working with that group of guys, the group of guys in that locker room is special. I’ve got a lot of friends in there and I’m appreciative of the guys who were there and helped me.”
On how he thinks the season would’ve played out if he was still in Philly: “I don’t know. I don’t know. I think that will always be a question mark. But, like I said, I was excited. I thought we had a really good preseason, a really good training camp and I was looking forward to building on what we were able to do the second half of last season.”
On what the future holds for him in Minnesota: “Man, you guys know me well enough. I take it a day at a time. I’m not really worried about what next year, or what next week, or what next month holds. I’m worried about just coming in here every day and trying to be a better teammate and finding a way to win.”
On how he felt like he was handled by the Eagles organization: “I thought I was handled great. Jeffrey [Lurie] is obviously a fantastic owner. I really enjoyed getting to know him. Obviously, I wasn’t around Doug [Pederson] during the regular season, but getting to know him, getting to know that offensive staff in the offseason, I think they’ve got a lot of really bright minds on that staff and I think I learned a lot about football in our meetings. And I really enjoyed being around all those guys.”
On what’s jumped out about the Eagles while watching tape: “Obviously their defense is playing really well right now, which doesn’t surprise me because we saw those guys every day in training camp. They seemed to be getting after the passer and forcing a lot of disruption upfront and we know that we’re going have our hands full.”
On learning from Bradford: “When I first got here, it was good to have Sam and Chase and obviously the coaches, which we’ve talked about. But I talked with Sam quite a bit, and with Chase, and just really wanted to dive deeper in this offense. And Sam had some good insight on our offense, and then also just, he was in a number of systems as well. It was just a really good conversation, really built a good relationship with him and I look forward to playing him."
On if they’ve spoken since trade: “We have spoken [since the trade], yes. We haven’t this week — it’s been a long week already — but I’m sure we’ll talk before the game. It’ll be cool to go out there and see him again.”
On if it's weird playing against him after he was just your teammate: “That’s just the nature of this business. That’s the NFL. Things happen. Guys get traded, that’s just kind of how it works. And now they’re the next one on our schedule. We’re excited to face them. They’re a good defense, a good team, and I’m glad we’re getting them at home.”
On if the trade has put him ahead of where he thought he would be at this point: “Yeah, without a doubt. You’re out there getting the reps and you’re out there playing games; you’re getting that experience that’s invaluable. Those are huge reps and huge opportunities to grow. So I think it’s definitely helped me, for sure.”
On where he thinks he'd be if that trade didn’t happen: “It’s hard to say. That’s the what-if game. I’m very fortunate with where I’m at now, and going forward. It’s been an exciting first five games and we’re looking forward to, hopefully, a successful season.”