“THESE idiots want to ruin that kid!” That’s a direct quote from my football guru, Rhodie. While I would have chosen a different way to word that, I fully understood where he was coming from. Mostly because he’d been making the same point repeatedly for the last twenty or so minutes. But in his defense, he (yes I really mean WE) had been doing some drinking.
Look, most Eagles fans are sick of QB Sam Bradford. They want to make the jump to rookie Carson Wentz sooner rather than later. Reports are that Wentz is picking up the Offense quicker/better than Bradford is, and so far players on this team don’t have a bad word to say about the rookie. It’s just glowing review after glowing review. Throws a ball that’s “easier to catch”, flaps his arms after TD’s, shits rainbows, farts hundred dollar bills… Since he’s so great, we should start him right?
Hold on. Pump the brakes. Ease back, Tito.
OTA’s is a bunch of guys in shorts, running basic concepts and drills. No one is hitting anyone yet. It’s grown men playing catch, with a touch of choreography thrown in. Be glad that Wentz looked good, but don’t ask for him to be the starter just yet. You may get what you ask for, and you don’t want that to happen.
Fans generally don’t understand the size of the leap Wentz is making here. Most fans think “college football” and visions of teams like Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, USC, University of Miami, Ohio State, and Texas (Longhorns) come to mind.
Wentz didn’t play against that level of competition. Now he’s playing vs the best of what that level had to offer. Admit it. Last year if someone said N.D. in relation to college football, you’d have thought Notre Dame not North Dakota. There is a jump to be made here, and OTA’s can’t give him a real sense of how big it is yet.
Conventional wisdom says if you start a rookie, you should expecting a losing season. If he wins, great. If not, it’s an investment in his education. Problem is, there is no patience for that here in Philly. Eagles ownership wants to compete in 2016. That would toss Wentz into the meat grinder immediately.
Many of those fans who want him over Bradford would be the first to bail and turn on him if he won fewer than the 7 games Bradford won last year. Between the expectations and the carnivorous media here, Wentz would likely end up shell-shocked before he learned the nuances of his position. He’d be ruined in same fashion that Bobby Hoying was. The fact is, Wentz needs time to sit and learn.
The sensible thing is to sit him for at least four games. When I say sit, I mean just that. Four games of no action at all. Hold the clipboard, wear a baseball cap, and stay close to Head Coach Doug Pederson. Ask questions, learn how to work the refs, wave the rally towel at the crowd, and offer words of encouragement to teammates after they blow a opportunity. Let him hone his game day demeanor.
Games 4 through 8, if you want to give him the last possession/mop-up duty in a game we’re winning or losing by at least 10, that’s great. However, barring injury to both Bradford and Chase Daniel, Wentz should under no circumstance, no circumstance, start a game before Week Ten. By Week Ten if we’re 2-6 or worse, you give the kid the keys and let him learn on the job. If we’re competing for or leading the division then you stick with him doing mop-ups.
And by God, if we’re competing for the division, under no circumstance do you ever yank the starter from a losing game, in hopes that the rookie can spark a comeback. Whether we win or lose the game, you are putting him personally in a no win situation afterward.
Making Wentz the starter right out of the gate is the perfect way to ruin him if the team doesn’t do well. This level of competition, expectation, media scrutiny, and fan intensity are all new for him. It’s too early to toss him into that meat grinder. We have Bradford and Daniel. Lets start with those two for now, and see where we are by the time we get to Week Ten at Atlanta.
There is nothing easy about building franchise QB’s. If it were, then everyone would be doing it. That means we have to be careful with Carson Wentz and careful of the process we use to mold him. If we don’t, then we risk as Rhodie put it “Fucking this kid’s career in the ass with a punkin” (meaning pumpkin).