Redskins – Eagles: Gruden Gushes Over Wentz
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Jay Gruden has a pretty good quarterback in his own right but that doesn't mean the Redskins' coach can't see what's unfolding in Philadelphia where second-year signal caller Carson Wentz is rapidly evolving into a legitimate MVP candidate.
"I think he's progressed at a rate as fast as anyone I've seen," the 'Skins coach told the reporters during a conference call in advance of his team's visit to Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night.
Wentz has been the talk of the NFL during Philadelphia's NFC-best 5-1 start and Gruden understands where the hype is coming from.
"His ability to make plays in the pocket, his ability to stand in the pocket in the face of the rush and deliver a ball accurately, his command of the offense, I think he's already proven this short in his career that he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league, quite frankly," Gruden assessed. "He's going to be for a long time."
Wentz has led an offense that has produced 20-or-more points in 10 straight games dating back to last season, the longest active streak in the NFL, and the team has produced 25-or-more during a four-game winning streak.
So far the former No. 2 overall pick has thrown for 1,584 yards with 13 touchdowns versus only three interceptions and his ability to generate "off-schedule offense" as described by his counterpart with Washington, Kirk Cousins, is what is setting Wentz apart from most of his peers.
"The poise is something that you never can gauge when you're watching in college," Gruden explained. "How they stand in there in the face of a rush, but he actually did that quite a bit and was very accurate. But, you never know how that will translate into the pro game with all of the different coverages and different blitzes coming at him. I think that's the most impressive thing about him. He has the big strong arm. He has the impressive body. He can run through tackles. His poise under pressure is something that you cannot coach. He is very, very good."
And Gruden is now stuck with facing Wentz twice a year.
In the season opener, a 30-17 Philadelphia win at FedEx Field, Wentz was spectacular at times, completing 26-of-39 passes for 307 yards with two TDs against one interception with an impressive 96.8 passer rating.
"I don't know how he got to Philadelphia," Gruden deadpanned. "But, I'm pretty upset about it. It's amazing with Carson and [Dallas'} Dak Prescott, how far they have come. Every week it seems like we're playing great quarterbacks. Knowing that Wentz is going to be there for a long time, puts a few gray hairs on my head."
As an expert on QBs who has help mentor Andy Dalton in Cincinnati as well as Cousins with the Redskins, Gruden isn't surprised what Wentz is turning into after just 22 NFL starts.
"I actually kind of expected it," Gruden claimed. "I watched a lot of tape of him in college, he's a big and strong guy. ...I knew he had the makings of being a great quarterback."
973espn.com Prediction: Eagles 27, Redskins 20 (2017 Prediction Record: 4-2, vs. spread 2-4)
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen