The Combination of Wentz and Pederson Could Bring a Championship To Philadelphia
Look, I know it’s the same spiel we hear from every analyst on what feels like a yearly basis, but let me pitch this to you: The combination of head coach Doug Pederson and potential No. 2 overall draft pick, Carson Wentz, could solve each other’s deficiencies.
When he was hired back in January, Pederson was questioned – better yet, grilled – over his play calling during the divisional playoff loss against the New England Patriots with 6:29 left on the clock. These were questions that had every reason to be brought up given that he was a protégé of Andy Reid, who was fired from the Eagles organization due to his 4-12 record in 2012, but also his inefficient game clock management.
North Dakota State entrusted Wentz by giving him to freedom to audible at the line, including changing protection schemes; quite a responsibility for any quarterback who has already been asked to memorize a college playbook, even if it is in the FCS subdivision.
In the 2015 National Championship game against Jacksonville State, Wentz’s passing numbers were moderately okay – 16-29 for 197 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. This might be a little shocking for the Eagles fans that think their team is drafting a day-one starter. However, his numbers on the ground tell a completely different story – 9 carries for 79 yards and 2 TDs, per ESPN.
In the 2014 National Championship, Wentz performed much better and registered 15-22 completions for 237 yards and 1 touchdown through the air, coupled with 16 carries for 87 yards and another touchdown per ESPN.
On the flipside, Pederson offers a West Coast-hybrid offense that should combine the knowledge and skills that Wentz already presents to become tailor fit with an offense that can amplify his playmaking ability.
The Eagles organization also offers Wentz the ability to learn this new offense while wearing a headset behind Chase Daniel and/or Sam Bradford because it is highly unlikely that any quarterback from this year’s draft class could realistically start winning games for their respective franchises beginning week one.
Slowly grooming a quarterback for an offense is not a new concept, as a matter of fact, it is the same exact scenario Reid put Pederson through back in 1999 when the two were fresh new faces in the City of Brotherly Love. Then-rookie quarterback, Donovan McNabb, would eventually take his place as the starter, and help carry the Eagles to four consecutive NFC Championship games.
So the real question at this point in the article would be: How will this coach/quarterback combination be better than Reid/McNabb? And the reality is that no one really knows. Pederson offers the same system that Reid used, likely with the additions of his own personal favorite plays, but it is still the same Mike Holmgren-derived offense at the end of the day; plus, Wentz never played against big-time football like McNabb did in the Big East.
However, Wentz did set single-season records in passing attempts, completions, yards, and total offense per game for NDSU, was forced to play in the harsh environments of the Northern United States unlike McNabb who benefited from an domed stadium, but like McNabb, is also a dual-threat quarterback.
And while McNabb was stellar in his play with the franchise during the 2000s, the 6x Pro Bowler was known for being perhaps a little too carefree in his overall approach to the game. He was a fun- and football-loving character, but maybe could have made a larger impact had he carried himself more like Uncle Phil and a little less like The Fresh Prince.
Philadelphia Inquirer beat writer, Zach Berman, recently tweeted a quote from Wentz stating, “Nothing’s handed to you in North Dakota. You earn what you get, and you work for it.”
Now, this is in no way a bashing of McNabb as he is ranked as the best Eagles quarterback in the history of the franchise for a reason, but Wentz’s 4.0 GPA and cold, gritty mentality could be that little extra factor that separates NFC Champion from Super Bowl Champion.