Carson Wentz, Eagles' receivers forced to develop chemistry on the fly

Carson Wentz, Eagles' receivers forced to develop chemistry on the fly

There’s no way to replace all the time they’ve missed. No way to squeeze an entire offseason of practice time into just a few days.

The Eagles’ receivers all of a sudden showed up at work on Monday and had a new quarterback, and the transition from Sam Bradford to Carson Wentz is going to take time.

There’s no way around it.

“I remember when I was young, it seemed like things were flying all over the place,” veteran tight end Brent Celek said of Wentz. “So the people around him, we just need to elevate our game and help him in any way possible. Be in the right place at the right time so he can rely on us. ...

“It’s hard to give him any advice ... because this is going to be his first start in an NFL game, and I know that crowd is going to be roaring, so I’m sure he’ll be amped up a little bit. But after a few plays he’ll settle down and be himself, and we’ve got to have some success, help him out.”

Wentz did not practice from Aug. 12, the day after he broke two ribs in the Tampa preseason game, until this past Monday, when he was cleared medically and also took over the reigns from Bradford.

Now he’s the starter for the regular-season opener against the Browns on Sunday.

How tough an adjustment will it be?

Jordan Matthews won’t use that word. He doesn’t believe in it.

“I don’t like to say the word tough, you know?” said Matthews, who didn’t practice with Wentz until this week. “You go with what you got. And it happened, so all you’ve got to do is always look at the positives, and the positives are that everybody here believes in Carson. Top to bottom, that’s the feeling.

“You can kind of feel it, Carson’s ready. This game’s not too big for him. We’re excited for him, I’m excited to go out and play with him. It’s shocking because you aren’t ready for it, but at the end of the day, obviously it’s a business and once teams started having some quarterbacks going down, some quarterback issues, you could read the writing on the wall.

“We were the one team that had two quarterbacks who can be looked at as franchise guys and then the thing was we just drafted the guy everybody thought was a franchise guy in Carson. So once he came out in spring camp and showed everybody that he was mentally and physically prepared, then when that situation happened, yeah, you’re shocked, but you kind of understand.

“We get a first-round pick, it makes sense. Trust me, I’m the main person who wanted Sam here. I wanted him to come back, and glad I got to spend some more time with him, but you have to still deal with the facts and the facts were that we were able to get a first-round pick out of it and they knew Carson was ready, so when something like that happens, hey, you go with who you got and try to win a game.”

Wentz was working with the third-stringers most of camp when he was healthy, and those guys — Paul Turner, David Watford, Cayleb Jones, Marcus Johnson — are either on the practice squad or no longer with the team.

So the main group of receivers— Matthews, Josh Huff, Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham — plus tight ends Celek and Zach Ertz has a lot of catching up to do.

“Get in early and work with him, come in early, stay late,” Huff said. “It’s definitely hard. It’s like you started work for the first time and they gave you a desktop full of work and they expect you to finish it in a week. But that’s something you’ve got to do as a professional. Get down the chemistry and make sure we’re right for Sunday.  

“I got some work with him during training camp but after that I really haven’t gotten any with him. Hopefully, we don’t have those growing pains, but if we do, that’s expected. But Carson’s a smart dude. I don’t think it’ll be too much for him to handle.”

Celek has played with Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Kevin Kolb, Mark Sanchez, Vince Young, A.J. Feeley, Mike Kafka, Matt Barkley, Trent Edwards and Bradford.

So Wentz will become QB No. 12.

“It’s an adjustment but I don’t think it’s that big,” Celek said. “We’ve been practicing with him for some time now, and I’m sure he’s getting more and more comfortable being out there with us.

“We as receivers need to be in the right spot at the right time to make it easy for him, and then we’ve got to block for him and keep people off of him so he can make easy throws. Do what we do and do it well.”

For Green-Beckham, Wentz is his third starting quarterback in a month. He was in Tennessee with Marcus Mariota until he was traded to the Eagles in mid-August, and just as he was starting to build up chemistry with Bradford, Bradford was shipped to the Vikings.

“We don’t have too much time, so we have to take advantage of practice and after practice and try to get the timing right,” DGB said. “Not being here during OTAs, it hurts, but after practice is the only time we have to get ready.”

Matthews is entering his third NFL season and already on his fourth quarterback.

He played eight games with Foles, 10 games with Sanchez and 14 games with Bradford.

“It’s different but it’s something I’m used to,” Matthews said. “When I was in high school I played with five different quarterbacks. At Vanderbilt I played with six different and I think this will be my fourth different in three years in the NFL.

“So I still approach the game from the aspect of, I’ve got to make sure I do my job better than anybody so that whatever happens around me, I’m still there for my teammates, whether it’s the quarterback, whether it’s new receivers coming in, whether it’s an O-line that maybe I have to get open quicker because of timing.

“Anything like that, I’ve got to make sure I handle my job. So yeah, sometimes it’s a challenge, but at the same time it’s something I’m really used to.

“It does make it exciting when you know you’ve got a guy who is in there who can play and a guy who’s going to be here a long time in Carson, so I’m as excited as everybody.”

Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

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Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

We're deep into free agency, the draft is rapidly approaching and the 2017 Super Bowl champion Eagles are being reshaped into a new team.

Which means it's a perfect time for a Roob's 10 Observations.

1. As the Eagles move on from LeGarrette Blount and reshape the running back position, it’s intriguing to ponder just how good Corey Clement can be. From what I saw last year? I think the kid can be a stud. His touches were limited until late in the season, but how many rookies have had 300 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards and averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry and 13 yards per catch? Would you believe three in the last 40 years? A guy named Jesse Clark with the Packers in 1983, a guy named Adrian Peterson with the Vikings in 2007 and a guy named Corey Clement. It’s tough to project, but he can run, he can block, he can catch, he’s got a real flair for making big plays and a terrific knack in the red zone. Can’t wait to see him in an expanded role.

2. As for Blount, you can’t understate his value to the Eagles last year, both as a running back and a leader. For a guy with his resume to come into that locker room and not once complain about his workload – even when he had no carries against the Chiefs – was remarkable. His selfless attitude really resonated with the young guys in the locker room. And I know a lot of fans were upset to see him go, but as incredible as his Super Bowl performance was, you can’t forget that in the seven games leading up to the Super Bowl he averaged 2.9 yards per carry. And he’s 31 years old. If the reported numbers are correct, Blount’s $4.5 million 2018 salary makes him the 12th-highest-paid running back in the league. Good for him. I wish him well. He was a huge part of that 2017 team. But it made no sense for the Eagles to bring him back.

3. It’s amazing how much money teams keep throwing at Sam Bradford. He’s got 34 wins in eight seasons, he’s never had a winning record, he’s never made a postseason, and on the rare occasions when he’s been healthy, he’s won only 43 percent of his starts. Oh, and he’s missed 42 games since 2013. “He’s our guy!”

4. Speaks volumes that both Blount and Torrey Smith singled out Duce Staley in their tweets or Instagram posts saying goodbye to Philly after joining new teams. Staley wasn’t even Smith’s position coach, and he still singled him out. Blount wrote: “To my main man Coach Duce Staley – You have impacted my life on and off the field and pushed me to be the best version of me I can be and for that I thank you!” Staley is such a natural leader and such a big part of what the Eagles accomplished in 2017. He’s going to be a head coach one day.

5. The Eagles lost Vinny Curry, but they have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long. They lost Trey Burton and Brent Celek, but they have Zach Ertz. They lost Smith, but they have Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins. They lost Blount, but they have Jay Ajayi and Clement. They lost Patrick Robinson, but they have Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby and Daryl Worley. They’ve lost a lot, but they’re still stocked at every position where they lost someone. Pretty darn good roster planning.

6. I feel like in the wake of Nick Foles’ brilliant postseason, people are forgetting exactly how good Carson Wentz was before he got hurt. So here’s a list of every quarterback in NFL history with 33 or more touchdown passes and seven or fewer interceptions in a season before his 30th birthday: Carson Wentz.

7. I wonder how much Haloti Ngata has left. He’s 34, he’s coming off a torn biceps, and he’s five years removed from his last Pro Bowl. Beau Allen was quietly a solid backup defensive tackle and played a big role in that D-line rotation the second half of the season after Tim Jernigan hurt his ankle. I don’t mind the signing. Ngata comes cheap and there’s really nothing to lose. But it’s been a while since he’s been a dominant player, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in.

8. If you’ve never been to Canton, Ohio, plan your trip now. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a great place to visit any time. But the weekend of Brian Dawkins’ induction is going to be unforgettable. Dawk’s speech is going to be epic.

9. The Philly Special may be the greatest play in Eagles history, but where does the fourth-quarter fourth-down conversion rank? The Eagles trailed with 5½ minutes left and faced a 4th-and-1 inside midfield when Foles converted a short completion to Ertz. If they don’t convert, they lose. That’s gotta be a top-10 all-time play. Maybe top-five.

10. Tight ends with more catches than Ertz in their first five NFL seasons: Kellen Winslow Sr., Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates.

Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

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Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

We all know just how good Carson Wentz is. Heck, the entire NFL knows just how good Wentz is after the Eagles' QB put together a remarkable season with 3,296 passing yards and 33 TD tosses … in just 13 games.

But we and the entire league also know what that means: Wentz is going to get a lot more zeros added to his paycheck soon.

Wideout Torrey Smith, recently traded by the Eagles to the Panthers, knows full well what Wentz's worth is and isn't shy to talk about it, as he did at his charity basketball event in Maryland Saturday evening.

"When Carson's time comes, they're going to need a Brinks truck the size of this arena," Smith, who caught 33 balls for 692 yards and two TDs from Wentz last season, told ESPN's Jamison Hensley while noting the Eagles are taking full advantage of Wentz's discounted rookie deal right now.

Wentz is in the middle of a four-year, $26.6 million deal signed after he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2016. The deal expires after the 2019 season, but obviously, Howie Roseman and crew know this all is looming. And they also know recent QB contract numbers have continued to skyrocket.

San Francisco recently made Jimmy Garrapollo, he of seven career starts but also of five straight wins to end last season after his trade from New England, the richest QB in league history with a five-year, $137.5 million deal. Detroit gave Matthew Stafford a five-year, $135 million deal prior to last season, a few months after Oakland gave Derek Carr a five-year, $125 million extension. Those three are the top-paid QBs in the league.

Long story short: With the way Wentz has performed with 7,049 passing yards and 49 TDs in 29 career starts, he's going to get paid.

And Roseman's acts of salary cap magic are going to have to continue because Wentz is going to get paid sooner than later, and the whole league knows it.