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April 17, 2017

Wentz: Eagles now 'have the pieces in place' to win division

After a 7-9 season that 'didn't make the cut,' Birds QB has big plans for Year 2

Eagles NFL

Finally, there's some Eagles news that doesn't revolve around guessing which player the team will draft next Thursday night without actually knowing whether or not said player will actually be productive in the NFL.

Sometimes, it takes a few years before we can say for sure if a player was worth the pick (see: Brandon Graham). Other times, however, the immediate returns are so strong after just one season that almost no one questions, to steal a line, if the juice was worth the squeeze.

Even if that squeeze cost you several future draft picks, as is the case with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Wentz spoke to the media for the first time this offseason, four and half months after his rookie season came to an end on New Years Day, and touched on a wide range of topics, from his offseason to his new receivers to his thoughts on Philly. 

He also spoke at length about the differences in his preparation for his second NFL, about how his knowledge of the playbook – one he hadn't even seen a year ago at this time – has given him the opportunity to improve in other areas, like his mechanics or his ability to read opposing defenses.

And, of course, he had time to get some hunting in between workouts.

Still, Wentz isn't taking any of that for granted. He knows there's still room for improvement, not just in his game, but in the win column as well.

“Just consistency. Just being consistent with accuracy, just everything," he said when asked about the areas in which he wanted to improve. "Just being more comfortable with that. And then, I mean, I want to win. I want to win. And being, like I said, 7-9 is not going to make the cut. So that’s what we’ve got to improve on.”

If 7-9 didn't cut it in Year 1, than what would he consider a success in Year 2?

“Making the playoffs," Wentz said without hesitation. "Making the playoffs and winning the division, and then just seeing what happens. That’s obviously the No. 1 goal, winning the [NFC] East. That’s what we have our sights set on. But at the same time, we’ve got a long way to go until then.”

The "long way to go" he threw in at the end of that answer, however, doesn't suggest that Wentz thinks the team is far off from realizing that goal. Instead, he was referring to the five months between now and the start of the season.

And even then, there's still a lot that needs to be done before talking playoffs, especially in a division where the reigning champ also has a quarterback, Dak Prescott, entering his second full season in the same offensive system.

Wentz, however, seemed confident that after offseason additions like Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith – not to mention whatever they're able to get in the draft – the Birds are ready to dethrone Dallas.

“Without a doubt," Wentz said when asked if he thought his team was ready to realize its goal of winning the NFC East. "We truly believe we have the pieces in place. And, you know, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us here. It’s early; it’s April still, but we truly believe that. We’re going to put the work in and get it done.”

Now, add the playoff talk to the already elevated exceptions that will be placed on him in second season under center, and it would only make sense for the 24-year-old to be feeling added pressure, right?

“Not really," said Wentz. "I don’t really like to put pressure on myself. I just let things happen and, like I said, I hold myself to high expectations and high standards. So the pressure from the outside is never what gets to me. 

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to be great and I’m going to continue to do that.”

Whether he knows it or not, he just added to that pressure by mentioning the playoffs. 

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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