Before training camp started, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Carson Wentz would likely be inactive at the start of the season. And now, roughly six weeks later, Wentz will be the Eagles’ starting quarterback Week 1.
Pederson announced Wentz will be under center when they take on the Cleveland Browns Sunday. The No. 2 overall pick suffered a hairline fracture in his ribs during Philadelphia’s preseason opener and didn’t return for the rest of the exhibition slate. Despite that, Pederson says he feels Wentz is ready to step in and start.
Wentz was enjoying his day off when he heard the news that he will start this week:
Carson Wentz was "lying in the middle of a cornfield, hunting" when he got the call to tell him he was the Eagles starter— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 5, 2016
The Eagles’ quarterback depth chart was shaken up Saturday when they traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for two draft picks –– including a 2017 first-round selection. It was a bizarre offseason for Bradford, who signed a two-year, $36 million extension with $22 million guaranteed less than 10 days before the Eagles inked Chase Daniel to a three-year deal. Philly then traded a bevy of draft picks, including their 2016 and 2017 first round selections, to move up and draft Wentz.
Bradford, 28, reportedly demanded a trade after Wentz was drafted and missed two weeks of voluntary workouts. But he ended the saddest holdout ever in early May, pledging his commitment to the organization.
When Bradford was dealt, it was assumed Daniel would take over the No. 1 job. According to NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo, the 29-year-old veteran was "extremely upset" last weekend when he was first informed of the decision to start Wentz. Daniel has only started two games in six NFL seasons, completing 50 of 77 passes for 464 yards and one touchdown as well as one interception. He played under Doug Pederson for three years while he was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City.
The Eagles’ sudden change of heart isn’t all that surprising, given the movement towards starting young quarterbacks in their rookie seasons. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in last year’s draft, both started Week 1.
Wentz put up monstrous numbers in his two final seasons at North Dakota State. He passed for 3,111 yards during his junior campaign, throwing for 25 touchdowns and seven picks. His senior season was off to an even better start, but he broke his wrist midway through, missing the Bisons’ final eight games.
The Eagles have concentrated the majority of their efforts in recent months to purging Chip Kelly’s imprint on the roster and planning for the future. In that spirit, starting Wentz Week 1 makes perfect sense. Pederson said the team will plan to bring in a third quarterback to round out the depth chart.