‘Big Ben’ Chimes in on Wentz
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Pittsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger thought he would be seeing Carson Wentz quite a bit in the coming years.
Like a lot of us, the future Hall of Famer believed that his AFC North-rival, the Cleveland Browns, would take Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft and solve their century-long problem at the game’s most important position.
Of course calling the Steelers and Browns a rivalry is like saying kindling is a threat to fire and one of the major reasons for that is that Cleveland has made consistently bad decisions over multiple regimes since their reincarnation in 1999.
If the early returns are any indication this time, passing on Wentz in an attempt to bring Moneyball to football will define Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta for years to come.
"I was surprised. I thought I'd be facing him two times a year in Cleveland," Roethlisberger said when discussing Wentz during a conference call with Philadelphia-area media.
Many have compared Wentz, who is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his two starts without turning the football over, to Roethlisberger because of their physical frames, somewhat common backgrounds, and their starts in the pro game, rapidly rising from third-string QBs to the franchise.
“Carson has the ability to extend plays with his legs; Ben is big, strong, physical in the pocket, hard to bring down and continues to have great vision down the field," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said whenasked about the similarities. "...So, yeah, there's a lot of similarities there. And the fact that they're both very good throwers outside the pocket is a tribute to both of them."
If anything, though, Wentz is far more athletic than Roethlisberger ever was and seems ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding things at the line of scrimmage than Roethlisberger was as a rookie even though he started 13-0 thanks, in large part, to a dynamic supporting cast.
"He's a heady player," Roethlisberger admitted. "He's smart. Understands the game. Physically gifted with both with his legs and his arm. He can make all the throws.”
Roethlisberger got to know Wentz in the offseason because the two share an agent.
"We talked a lot," Roethlisberger said. "I think the thing that was most important that I try to relay to young quarterbacks is don't try to do to much." ...Let the game kind of come to you. Let the flow of the game, the team, everything, let it flow to you and don't try to do too much. I think he's doing that right now, awesomely. ...if that’s a word,” he chuckled.
It's now Wentz's job to make sure the comparisons continue.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen