The Philadelphia Eagles have been in search of a franchise quarterback since Andy Reid shipped Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins in 2010. Since then, the Eagles have had minimal success with Michael Vick and Nick Foles, but no one has stuck around long enough to be that next franchise player at the position.
In 2016 the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick and the process of giving him the keys to the team seemed to be etched in stone. But the Eagles being the Eagles still had a possible starter on their roster from the Chip Kelly era in Sam Bradford. Bradford was making Pro-Bowl money but spectator stats. The team then signed a valuable backup in Chiefs QB, Chase Daniel, and the stage was set for an epic battle.
But, stuff happens in the NFL. Wentz got hurt, got dropped to 3rd string, Bradford got traded and all of a sudden Wentz was the starter for week 1. Eagles fans were torn between the decision. Some wanted Daniel; others wanted Wentz, but it was clear by the 1st quarter, the Eagles made the right decision and may have found that replacement for McNabb after all.
Wentz, in his first official NFL start, did not disappoint either with 27 completions for 278 yards and two touchdowns. He showed the ability to go deep, hit receivers in stride, avoid the rush but what stood out the most was his 37 attempts. The coaches have trust in this young kid and despite it being against the Cleveland Browns, they have some veterans in the secondary that were burned by the rookie signal caller.
If Wentz can continue to build chemistry with Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, and Zach Ertz the Eagles passing attack will be a thing of beauty to watch this season. Another reason for the optimism surrounding Wentz was the ground game. It doesn’t matter who you are as a QB, if there is no support from the RB position, you will have a long season ahead of you. For a rookie like Wentz he needs that option behind his and the Eagles, backs did not let him down. As a team, they combined for 133 yards on 34 carries with one touchdown which made his debut that much easier.
One game down, and say what you want about the competition, but he did what he was supposed to do. He managed the game, put his teammates in great position and avoided the dreaded rookie mistakes many felt was sure to come. Did he surprise us? Yes, but, the lasting effect he had on the locker room afterward, was one of relief.