Eagles

Carson Wentz not ready for season to end, but excited for Eagles' future

Carson Wentz not ready for season to end, but excited for Eagles' future

Carson Wentz wrapped up his first NFL season on Sunday with a win over the Cowboys and a feather in his cap (see Instant Replay). He had just set an NFL rookie record with 379 completions.

Yet making history and winning a meaningless Week 17 game weren't enough to appease Wentz (see breakdown of Wentz's day vs. Cowboys). The Eagles' season is over, and far sooner than anybody hoped or would've liked.

"It's cool," Wentz said of making history, "but at the end of the day, we were still 7-9 and we're going home, so that's really all that matters."

Wentz was still on the the fact that he wouldn't be playing in his first NFL playoff game next week, but it wasn't all doom and gloom (see Roob's 10 observations from the loss). The 24-year-old was already focusing on the future, even before he took the field one final time as a rookie.

"Ultimately, we wanted to be playing still in January," Wentz said. "Looking back now that it's over... we're just building something special. We truly believe that in that locker room.

"The guys that will be here next year, I kept saying it to all the guys that I saw, 'It's time to go.' It'll be time to go when we all come back, so I'm excited for the future."

Less than an hour after closing the book on the 2016 campaign, Wentz hadn't really been afforded an opportunity to step back and appreciate everything he accomplished. Between his senior season at North Dakota State, a seemingly endless slew of pre-draft workouts and interviews, then jumping right into his first NFL camp with the Eagles, he essentially hasn't had a break from football in over a year.

And this break is one Wentz doesn't seem quite ready for.

"It's been non-stop for a long time, both mentally and physically," Wentz said. "I haven't had a lot of time to truly reflect on what's all happened this season, so it will be big for me for peace of mind to just get away. Obviously, we still wish we were playing, but that's not the case right now."

So here's a reminder. Wentz completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns. He guided the Eagles to seven wins, as many as they had a season ago under veteran quarterback Sam Bradford, and Wentz did so with a depleted supporting cast on offense.

Perhaps most important of all, Wentz became the first Eagles quarterback to start all 16 games regular-season games since Donovan McNabb in 2009, taking nearly every snap along the way.

"Physically, I'm very blessed," Wentz said. "I'm very fortunate that I am healthy and made it through the whole year that way. My arm feels good. Probably threw about as much this year as I threw in college my whole career, which is kind of crazy, but I'm very thankful that I'm healthy."

Wentz didn't merely survive his rookie season. He gained valuable experience, and at times, even excelled.

"His progression from the start of the year to today is night and day," said Eagles coach Doug Pederson.

"He's really seeing the field. He's surveying the field. He's using his legs. He's a gifted runner. He knows where everybody is going to be. He's got great dialogue and communication on the sideline, on the football field. His leadership ability.

"He's an exciting player to watch and coach, and it's a pleasure having him this year. In his rookie season, to do the things he's done is just amazing, and really looking forward to the offseason and building for next year."

Now that he'll have some time off, Wentz says he plans to get more acclimated to the area, maybe take in a Sixers or Phillies game this offseason. A little time away and a chance to get settled can only add to the comfort level with the Eagles.

But there's no doubt football will never be too far from Wentz's mind, and it won't be long before he's getting the itch to get back to work with his teammates.

"It's a kids' game that they're paying us way too much to play," Wentz said. "It's a beautiful thing. I've always loved the game and I'm just very fortunate, that's for sure."

Wentz wasn't ready for this season to end, but at the same time, he sounds genuinely excited about the next chapter. This year didn't go exactly as planned, with the Eagles missing the playoffs for a third straight year. There were ups and downs, and the rookie signal-caller was far from perfect.

Considering where Wentz came from, suddenly being elevated to starting quarterback after an abbreviated preseason, having just come to the NFL from a Division I-AA program, it was a pretty special beginning. 

"This whole season, I learned a ton," Wentz said. "I learned a ton about different guys, about myself, about the game, and going into the offseason, it's full speed ahead. It's not taking reps with the threes and trying to learn a new playbook. It's we're all in this together."

"We've had a full season under our belt, so it'll be a fun offseason."

Weekly meetings helping Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz get on same page

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USA Today Images

Weekly meetings helping Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz get on same page

It doesn't seem like such a big deal at first. The head coach and quarterback get together and talk? 

So what?
 
Doug Pederson said Saturday it is a big deal and said his wide-ranging weekly 1-on-1 shoot-the-bull sessions with Carson Wentz have become an important part of Wentz's success as a quarterback, Pederson's success as a coach and the Eagles' success as a team.
 
Pederson said before practice Saturday morning that every Thursday night -- or Friday night the week of a Monday night game -- once most people have left the NovaCare Complex, he and Wentz sit down and just talk.
 
"We kind of talk about a lot of things," he said. "A little bit about football and a little bit about life."
 
The Eagles are 5-1 going into their huge Monday night showdown with the Redskins at the Linc, and Wentz and Pederson, both in their second year, are both enjoying considerable acclaim. 

Wentz, with 13 touchdown passes and three interceptions, is having an MVP type of season so far, and Pederson is an early favorite for Coach of the Year.
 
They're clearly on the proverbial same page, and Pederson said something as simple as a weekly brainstorming session with nobody else around is a key part of that success.
 
“I think it’s important for myself as a play caller and (Carson as) a quarterback that we kind of get on the same page," Pederson said.
 
"I want to hear his thoughts from the week of practice and he wants to hear my thoughts. We spend maybe 10 or 15 minutes talking football and the rest of it is we’re talking deer hunting stories. He loves to deer hunt and all that and I do too. I talk about my days in Green Bay with Brett.
 
"It’s just that time where he and I can just sort of take a deep breath and exhale and really kind of get on the same page going into the game basically. I think it’s important we continue to do that."
 
Pederson said he and Wentz met individually occasionally last year and earlier this year, but in recent weeks the Thursday night sessions have become a regular and important part of his and Wentz's regular routine.
 
Obviously, the head coach and quarterback meet all the time, but Pederson said these sessions are a unique opportunity because it's late in the week, it's just the two of them and the conversations aren't just limited to football.
 
“Andy (Reid) would do it during the week, not necessarily 1-on-1 at night or anything like that, but he would pull Alex (Smith) aside during the day," Pederson said.
 
"I know back when Donovan (McNabb) was here, even then he would have conversations with him. Marty Mornhinweg would do it with Michael Vick.
 
"I’ve been around coordinators or play callers who have done that with the quarterback. I just think it’s important that that line of communication is open, the dialogue is there and I want to make sure he and I are seeing the same things going into those games."

Eagles Injury Update: Hicks, Kendricks should be OK; Darby questionable

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Eagles Injury Update: Hicks, Kendricks should be OK; Darby questionable

It's still unclear whether or not the Eagles will have Ronald Darby for Monday night's game, but at least they'll have their linebackers. 

Both Jordan Hicks (calf) and Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) will be OK to play against Washington on Monday night, head coach Doug Pederson said. 

"Both of them will practice today," Pederson said on Saturday morning. "They're both doing well. Just to get a couple extra days of rest. And Mychal has actually practiced all week. Jordan's been the one we've kept out. Both of them will go today and we'll get a better understanding of where they're at but they'll be fine for the game."

Hicks, Kendricks and Darby were the only three Eagles who were limited in Friday's practice. 

Darby (ankle) will be listed as questionable for the game, but earlier in the week Pederson said "stars have to align" for the cornerback to play this week. The 49ers game on Oct. 29 is probably more likely. 

Darby, who dislocated his right ankle in Week 1, returned to practice for the first time this week. 

"[Darby has] looked well. It's just day by day with him," Pederson said. "We'll get through today's practice with him. Obviously, have limited his reps during practice. He is doing well and we'll get through today and tomorrow to make a decision for [the game]."

The Eagles will practice on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. and the injury report will come out later in the afternoon.