What we learned in Carson Wentz’s first preseason game
The Eagles have a logjam at quarterback, and they’re going to need all four games of the preseason to sort it all out.
Thursday was Philadelphia’s first chance to find some separation under center, with rookie and No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz seeing his first NFL action behind fellow quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel.
The game might not have counted, but that doesn’t mean it was meaningless. Here are the three things we learned in Wentz’s lengthy preseason debut:
Anyone can watch North Dakota State film or the scouting combine and think they’ll know what Wentz will be at the NFL level, but until he goes against NFL competition, no one has any idea.
Thursday’s game didn’t exactly put Wentz up against first-string guys, but there should be no concern that he won’t be able to adapt to the speed of the NFL game in due time. Wentz showed exciting athleticism, some fearlessness, and perhaps most importantly, toughness. In short: He looked the part.
The average-at-best numbers — 12 of 24, 89 yards, no touchdowns and an interception — can’t all be chalked up to Wentz. While the rookie did overthrow a few receivers, the Eagles offensive line was a sieve and their receivers were unable to get open all night. The interception came because his arm was hit on the play. Could the ball have come out sooner? Probably, but there aren’t many NFL quarterbacks who avoid that turnover. Ultimately, Wentz showed the ability to make big plays Thursday, and while the numbers might not reflect that, the potential should get Eagles fans excited.
Wentz came in on the final drive of the second quarter and didn’t leave until late in the fourth. The Eagles gave Bradford, the presumptive starter, only one pass attempt and put Daniel on a drive limit. Eagles coach Doug Pederson clearly wants to see what Wentz is made of this preseason, and if he can build on Thursday’s solid if unspectacular performance, he just might win the starting job.
The reason Wentz shouldn’t be written off to start Week One is because he looked to be a perfect fit for Pederson’s offense Thursday night. Wentz’s ability to run and make plays outside the pocket — paired with his better-than-good arm strength — opens up the read-option game that the Eagles want to run in 2016; Bradford can’t run those plays, and while Daniel has the ability, he’s a good backup at best. Wentz showed all the tenets of a young franchise cornerstone Thursday night, and he might actualize that future soon.