Jesse Pantuosco

Football Daily Dose

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Dose: Carson’s Big Break

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Carson Wentz … you’re up.

 

The Eagles decided to wipe the slate clean this weekend by sending Sam Bradford to Minnesota for a first-round pick in 2017 and a fourth rounder in 2018. Acquiring Bradford will help the Vikings stay competitive while Teddy Bridgewater heals up but it’s still an enormous return for a deeply mediocre quarterback. It was an offer the Eagles simply couldn’t refuse, though the deal probably won’t help right away. In fact, the trade will almost certainly hurt them in the short term.

 

Bradford, for all his flaws, gave the Eagles their clearest path to victory in 2016. Without him, the Eagles have essentially pressed the reset button. Philadelphia fans should be pretty used to that. The Phillies have spent the past several seasons dismantling their aging roster while the 76ers’ “Process” might be the most thorough rebuilding movement in the history of sports.

 



But give the Eagles credit. They didn’t stop halfway. Instead of handing the reigns to seven-year veteran Chase Daniel, who followed head coach Doug Pederson to Philadelphia this offseason, second overall pick Carson Wentz will draw the start against the Browns in Week 1.

 

The Eagles could have made this a red-shirt year for Wentz. That’s how the Rams are handling first overall pick Jared Goff (it’s only a matter of time until Broncos first-rounder Paxton Lynch overtakes placeholder Trevor Siemian). But maybe a baptism by fire is exactly what Wentz needs. Wentz dominated the Combine but questions persist about whether he can adapt to the NFL after playing his college ball at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. The 23-year-old only attempted 612 college passes and was injured for most of his senior year. He also got hurt in his first preseason game, suffering a rib injury that sidelined him for three weeks.

 

None of this paints a rosy picture but the only way to assuage these concerns is for Wentz to go out and play on a weekly basis. The Eagles already overpaid for Daniel. They don’t have to make things worse by actually playing him. The danger, of course, is that Wentz will struggle out of the gate and begin to lose confidence. But Wentz isn’t here to be sheltered. He’s here to be the Eagles’ franchise quarterback. When you’re a rookie, rough patches come with the territory. Wentz can’t be a mystery man anymore. The Eagles have to see what they have in him.

 

Editor's Note: For updated rankings, projections, player profiles, positional tiers, mock drafts, sleepers and busts, exclusive columns and plenty more, check out our Draft Guide!

 

The good news for Wentz is that he faces a rather cushy matchup in Week 1. The Browns are coming off a 3-13 season and allowed the sixth-most yards in football in 2015. Ace corner Joe Haden wasn’t around for most of that but the Browns are still one of the more inviting opponents Wentz could have drawn.

 

It’s fair to wonder how much chemistry Wentz will have with his receivers after missing most of camp. It’s a thin group at wideout led by Jordan Matthews, who has notched at least eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons. Dorial Green-Beckham has the requisite size to be a red zone presence but failed to put it all together in Tennessee last season. Nelson Agholor hasn’t shown much since arriving as a first-round pick in 2015 but maybe the challenge of competing with Green-Beckham will bring out the best in him. And if all else fails, Wentz can always sling a screen pass to veteran scat back Darren Sproles. It’s not the Ritz but the Eagles certainly have enough weapons to get by. The previous coaching regime favored a frantic, no-huddle offense that would have been difficult for Wentz to pick up on the fly. He should have a much easier time transitioning to Doug Pederson’s scheme, which is more in line with a traditional offense.

 

If Wentz needed any extra motivation for Sunday’s debut, the Browns just gave it to him. Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta said the team didn’t see Wentz as a top-20 quarterback, which explains why Cleveland traded its No. 2 pick to Philadelphia. "Even though you have a desperate need for one, you have to resist the temptation of taking that guy just because you have a need if you don't believe he's one of those 20 guys at the end of the day,” said DePodesta in an interview with ESPN. “I think that's the hardest part, just maintaining your discipline because you have the need. That's what we did this year."

 

DePodesta shouldn’t be giving the Eagles bulletin board material, but what if he’s right? This year’s quarterback class was lacking compared to 2015 when Heisman Trophy winners Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were selected first and second overall. Winston and Mariota were NFL-ready on Day 1 while Goff and Wentz were both considered projects. So instead of reaching for Wentz at No. 2, the Browns swapped the pick while inserting Robert Griffin III as a bridge quarterback in hopes of finding a franchise QB in 2017. Perhaps the Browns already have their eye on DeShaun Watson, the Clemson junior who finished third in last year’s Heisman Trophy voting.

 

Wentz may not be for everyone but he’s big (6’5”/237), agile (4.77 forty), highly intelligent (40 on the Wonderlic) and doesn’t come with any off-field red flags. Only time will tell if the Eagles were right or wrong. But right now, at this moment, Wentz has a chance to be great. The Eagles saw what Bradford could do and knew his ceiling wasn’t as high as Wentz’s. Now it’s time to roll the dice.

 

Speaking of Bradford, the newest member of the Vikings is beginning to settle in. Bradford split first-team reps with Shaun Hill on Monday. Hill, who is entering his second year with Minnesota, is obviously more familiar with Norv Turner’s offense. That might work to his advantage this week while Bradford plays catch-up. Bradford will assume the starting role as soon as he masters the playbook but given his history of injuries (he’s missed 27 games over the last three seasons), there’s a good chance we’ll see Hill command the offense at some point this year.

 

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Quick Hits: Arian Foster has finally climbed to the top of Miami’s running back depth chart. The former Texan was officially named the starter on Monday. Jay Ajayi will handle backup duties for the Fins, who are coming off a 6-10 season … DeVante Parker still isn’t practicing and apparently is dealing with two injured hamstrings. The 2015 first-round pick is looking doubtful for Sunday’s opener in Seattle … Danny Amendola returned to practice on Sunday. He’s spent most of the summer recovering from offseason knee and ankle surgeries … The Saints have reopened negotiations with Drew Brees and are hoping to reach a deal before the regular season starts on Sunday. The 37-year-old is reportedly asking for a deal that would pay him $100 million over four years … Thomas Rawls has resumed practicing at full speed and is expected to start against Miami in Week 1. Among rookies, only Todd Gurley rushed for more yards last season … Joey Bosa is dealing with tightness and might not be ready for Week 1 against Kansas City. Bosa missed most of training camp over a contract dispute … Eric Ebron practiced for the first time in a month on Monday and should be ready for Sunday’s opener against the Colts. He was carted off with a sprained ankle in the Lions’ first preseason game … Sheldon Rankins was placed on injured reserve with a broken fibula. The 12th overall pick in this year’s draft won’t return until Week 9 at the earliest … The 49ers released fullback Bruce Miller on Monday. Miller was arrested earlier in the day for allegedly beating up two strangers at a hotel in San Francisco … Panthers coach Ron Rivera confirmed that Kelvin Benjamin will only see about 35 snaps in Thursday’s opener. Thursday night in Denver will be Benjamin’s first game since tearing his ACL last offseason … Justin Forsett re-signed with the Ravens on Monday. The Ravens’ leading rusher last season was cut from the team on Saturday but was only out of a job for two days … Matt Jones returned to practice on Monday and should shed his non-contact jersey later this week. He separated his shoulder in Washington’s second preseason game but should be ready to go for Week 1 against Pittsburgh … Josh Doctson returned to Monday’s practice but isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Monday Night Football against the Steelers next week. The first-round rookie has been battling Achilles issues all offseason … Chiefs coach Andy Reid admitted Jamaal Charles (knee) is a “stretch” to play in Week 1. Spencer Ware would draw the start in the likely event that Charles sits … J.J. Watt was back at practice on Monday. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year made a quick recovery from back surgery and should make his 81st start in a row Sunday against Chicago … Julio Jones is expected to return to a full practice on Wednesday. He’s been nursing an ankle injury for the past two weeks … I have a new weekly column debuting on Wednesday so stay tuned for that. And as always, we’ll have the Roundtable for you on Friday afternoon. 



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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