McMullen: Eagles Have the Real Deal in ‘Assertive’ Wentz
(973espn.com) — Find the quarterback and everything else will fall into place.
That might seem simplistic but that's exactly how one longtime NFL personnel man described the 2017 NFL when speaking to 973espn.com.
"You grind to find players at every position but let's be honest if you have the real deal at quarterback you can hide a lot of flaws," he said.
The Philadelphia Eagles have the real deal at QB.
"All of us who have been around a lot of great quarterbacks, he had those traits," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said when discussing Carson Wentz earlier this week. "He talked like it, he walked like it. I remember one of the things going there [North Dakota State] and him saying that his coaches used to say that he had a lot of arguments with his offensive coordinator. For me, I took that as a good thing, because he knew what he wanted, he knew what was good, and we welcomed that and that's a good dynamic."
Everyone can see the physical gifts Wentz possesses at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds with a big-time NFL arm and more than enough functional football mobility to extend plays as well as the DNA to keep his eyes downfield when the pocket is collapsing.
The intangible stuff, however, often goes unnoticed except to those who work with the second-year star on a daily basis.
Wentz is a natural leader, the furthest thing from a shrinking violet and the kind of guy able to speak his mind even when his head coach and coordinator have both spent over a decade playing the position in the pros.
Wentz knows what he wants, understands what he does well and pushes for it.
"We’re all stubborn. Coaches, players; you’re very confident in what you know and what you believe and what you want," Reich said. "And so we have good discussions. We take a lot of input from Carson."
There's a fine line there, however, in that, a know-it-all mentality could shut off valuable coaching advice from those who have seen some of the greatest QBs in history and what they did to lift their teams to championship glory.
Wentz isn't that guy, however.
"Certainly from the quarterback position there's a unique contribution I think that you can make and that he can make, but he's still -- what we appreciate about him is that he's mature enough to understand there's a process," Reich explained.
Wentz himself admitted he can be demanding and he's seized control of this football team, whether it was pressing Howie Roseman and the front office to upgrade the talent at the receiver position in the offseason or calling out his highly-regarded offensive line if they happen to miss a protection call.
"Yeah, assertiveness isn't his issue at all," Reich joked. "He's got plenty of assertiveness."
To date, Wentz meets with his head coach at least once a day and sometimes far more, a process that has the Eagles off to a 4-1 start and at the top of the NFC East despite key injuries to Ronald Darby, Darren Sproles, and Fletcher Cox.
"The relationship with Coach Pederson and Coach Reich has been really, really solid," Wentz said. "We’ve had a lot of open dialogue. I respect the heck out of their opinions and I’m thankful that they respect mine, as well.”
If the Eagles get out of Charlotte with another win on Thursday night and Wentz happens to outplay former MVP Cam Newton, expect the hype train to really start chugging along.
“You’ve got two big, strong guys who are athletically at the tops of their positions,” Reich said. “They can extend plays in ways that are rare at the position. Only a handful of guys do. That certainly creates some dynamics that are tough for defenses to defend.”
The Eagles, however, don't need any hype to confirm what they already know ... Wentz is a star.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen