Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We’ll see soon enough on Wentz


From a dramatic standpoint, consider Carson Wentz’s professional football debut against the Browns Sunday in the regular-season opener in Philadelphia delicious irony.

Wentz, the quarterback the Eagles thought of enough to trade up for in the last college draft, will face the team they traded with to get him.

The Browns owned the second overall selection in the lottery and practically everyone in the pro football community believed they would grab one of the two top quarterbacks, Jared Goff or Wentz, to become their quarterback of the future.

When the Los Angeles Rams traded up and leapfrogged the Browns into the top spot and took Goff, the Browns decided Wentz wasn’t what they were looking for and allowed the Eagles to move up to the No. 2 slot and take him.

It appears as though Wentz, a small college quarterback who owns a pair of national small college championships, apparently failed the Browns’ eye test.

So confirmed Browns chef strategy officer (whatever that means) Paul DePodesta to ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi at the beginning of training camp in late July on the thinking about trading down after the Rams selected Goff.

“We have to make judgments on individual players and we’re not always going to be right,” DePodesta said. “But in this particular case, we just didn’t feel it was necessarily the right bet to make for us at this time. . . . We will not always be right on those types of things.”

Later, he went on to say that “in a given year, there might be two or three NFL-ready quarterbacks at the college level. In another year, there might be zero. There might not be anybody in that year good enough to be a top 20 quarterback in the NFL.”

Wentz, at least from the Browns’ standpoint, did not fall into the NFL-ready category and thus the trade down with the Eagles. It’s all a matter of evaluation, good, bad or otherwise.

"We didn't draft Carson Wentz because we didn't think it was the right fit for our team at this time," Browns coach Hue jackson told Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio Tuesday. "There's nothing more to it. Obviously, that will make for great debate in the media and that's fine."

The Browns will find out Sunday whether they might have made a mistake when they get up-close-and-personal look at Wentz. Of course, it will be only a small sample of what lies ahead for the kid and in no way should be construed as anything but.

But one can only imagine what is going through Wentz’s mind right now after a rather interesting training camp and exhibition season. He rightfully believed his rookie season would be spent learning how to be a National Football League quarterback behind Sam Bradford.

Then fate – and the Minnesota Vikings – stepped in. Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater rips up a knee and just like that, the Eagles ship Bradford to the land of 10,000 lakes in a deal they couldn’t refuse and Wentz suddenly is thrust center stage.

The Eagles, expected by many experts to challenge the Browns for the worst record in the NFL this season, are taking a calculated risk by elevating Wentz so soon. It very well could be looked at as a what-have-we-got-to-lose situation.

In doing so, though, Wentz could not be any more ill prepared as any rookie making his pro debut. It’s not as if he has gone through an entire training camp and exhibition season and displayed talents that made the Bradford trade possible.

He hasn’t played a game of football since Aug. 11, when he suffered a hairline fracture of a rib or two in the opening exhibition against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a game in which he was hit hard numerous times.

His NFL résumé entering Sunday is as follows: Six possessions, 39 snaps (including three where penalties resulted in no play), 24 passes, 12 completions, 89 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and three scrambles for 15 yards.

That’s it. His best drive was an 11-play, 71-yarder that ended with the pick inside the 5-yard line.

Wentz has been recovering from the rib injury since then. His return was problematic until Monday when Eagles coach Doug Pederson, in the wake of the Bradford deal, announced the rookie was healthy and would face the Browns.

There is no question he will be as raw as any quarterback has ever been in his NFL debut. And you can bet Browns Nation will pay close attention to how he performs, remembering what their team did – or did not do – on draft day.

There is no doubt Wentz, the Browns’ snub lurking in the back of his mind, will be out to prove they made a mistake in not staying put at No. 2 and taking him. DePodesta and the rest of the Cleveland top brass will be watching. 

4 comments:

  1. Not to worry. The Browns will, once again, make a rookie QB look like a Hall-of-Famer. They've done it before and they'll do it again.

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  2. Maybe. Maybe not.

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    Replies
    1. Love your air of certainty!

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  3. It's my vacillating gene in action. Can't help myself.

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