Eagles

Staying healthy not the biggest challenge for Carson Wentz

Staying healthy not the biggest challenge for Carson Wentz

The expectations are astronomical.

The comparisons are inevitable.

The pressure is incredible.

That’s the position Carson Wentz finds himself in this fall with his close friend Nick Foles now a Jacksonville Jaguar.

Wentz is The Guy now. The safety net is gone. He’s on his own now with only two possible outcomes: Win a Super Bowl and escape the inevitable Foles comparisons or fall short and deal with them the rest of his career.

We know Wentz is insanely talented.

He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to complete 64 percent of his passes with at least 70 touchdowns and fewer than 30 interceptions in his first three seasons.

But beyond whether he can stay healthy is the equally important question of whether he’s ready to handle living up to a flat-out legend.

As the only Eagles quarterback to win a Super Bowl, Foles’ legacy here is cemented for eternity.

A Super Bowl MVP. A statue. A best-selling inspirational autobiography.

That’s all Wentz has to live up to.

I think he’s very equipped to handle it,” Doug Pederson said. “He’s the type of guy who doesn’t let that kind of stuff bother him. Listen, he learned from Nick, from watching Nick and how Nick operated. He learned. He had two years of learning. I think this is a great opportunity for him to embrace his new role.

Until he wins a Super Bowl, everything Wentz does is going to be compared to what Foles did.

And no number of touchdowns, no amount of passing yards, no collection of Pro Bowl nods is going to change that.

It’s a tremendous amount of pressure trying to live up to a flat-out Philly legend.

There is going to be criticism, obviously, and there is going to be the comparison game and all that,” Pederson said. “But the best (thing) we can as coaches and players is to block it out and focus on what we’re doing. That’s what you see. He can tune that out pretty easily and just focus on his job, and getting ready for his next opponent.

There’s a school of thought that it will be good for Wentz that his pal is gone. 

The thinking is that Wentz will be able to really take ownership of the Eagles’ quarterback position now that Foles is with the Jaguars in a way he just couldn’t do when Foles was standing on the sidelines with the clipboard.

But even without Foles here literally, he’s sure here figuratively.

Pederson said the key for Wentz is to take what he’s learned from watching Foles the last two years — his ability to stay calm and relaxed in the face of adversity, to take what the defense gives him and not try to do too much, to rally the Eagles back from late deficits — and use it get the most out of his own prodigious talent.

The last two years we have been blessed … for what (Nick) has been able to do and I am happy for where Nick is and having an opportunity for himself,” Pederson said. “But this is also a great opportunity for Carson. To really regain the type of player he is, what we saw in 2017 and really what we saw in 2018 when he was playing.

Foles was 29 when he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title.

Wentz is 26, and in the last 25 years only three quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger — have won Super Bowls before their 27th birthday.

Wentz has plenty of time to join his friend and former teammate in achieving football’s greatest accomplishment. But every year he doesn’t, you know exactly what he’s going to hear.

We all know.

“Nick won a Super Bowl. When are you going to win one?”

That pressure only grew when the Eagles gave Wentz a four-year, $128 million contract extension.

Quite frankly, I don’t think a lot of that bothers him,” Pederson said. “He just moves on. He’s excited for this new season. It’s a new team, there are new guys around him. He’s energized, he feels good and I am just excited for that. I don’t like to look back. Can we learn from past experiences? Yeah we can learn from them, but I don’t want to keep going backwards, backwards, backwards. We are forward driven, forward thinking, and that is what he has to do as well.

Wentz has the arm to be the best. He has the legs to be the best. He has the mind to be the best.

The only way for him to escape the imposing shadow of his former backup is to win a Super Bowl. Or two.

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Learning more about Rich Scangarello’s role in Eagles’ offense

Learning more about Rich Scangarello’s role in Eagles’ offense

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s a pretty ambiguous title.

The Eagles earlier this month hired former Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello as a senior offensive assistant. But if Doug Pederson is the play-caller, Press Taylor is the passing game coordinator and Jeff Stoutland is the run game coordinator, it begs a pretty obvious question:

What the heck is Scangarello going to do?

At the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Pederson finally answered that question with at least a little bit more depth than we previously heard.

“He’s going to be able to bridge the gap,” Pederson said Tuesday. “He’s going to be able to bring together the run division and the pass division. With a blend of formations and plays and things that really tie everything together. He’s going to have his hands all over the game plan as well. A lot of communication. A lot of film study. Yeah, he’ll work with the quarterbacks, just like I do. He’ll have a chance to have some input there."

OK, so we don’t exactly know how Scangarello will fill every minute of his work days but we’re starting to get a clearer picture.

Pederson said he and Scangarello bonded over their early backgrounds in the West Coast offense but it’s Scangarello’s close ties to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that the Eagles found most intriguing. Scangarello worked under Shanahan in both Atlanta and San Francisco and the Eagles are hoping to blend some of those concepts with the offense Pederson is already running.

Namely, the Eagles are hoping this hire really helps Carson Wentz. That’s the No. 1 reason Scangarello was hired.

In addition to the time Scangarello will spend actually coaching the quarterbacks, the idea of QB movement is key. For whatever reason, the Eagles seemed hesitant to move Wentz in and out of the pocket early last season but once they did, he thrived.

That movement, throughout Wentz’s career, has always seemed to get him in a rhythm. And the Eagles are finally ready to lean into that.

“It was important for me,” Pederson said. “I think when I look back at our season and how we kind of finished the season, the thing Carson excelled at was basically those two elements. The play action, the QB movement stuff, the screens were important. And the run game ties into all that.

“This was what was intriguing with Rich, the background, what he’s learned. He studies this game now. You’ll learn when you get to speak to him. This guy has spent a lot of time studying the game. Now helping us, helping our offense. That’s why he was so intriguing to me.”

Despite finding a relatively high level of success with rookie quarterback Drew Lock in Denver, Scangarello lasted just one year as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator.

After the season, head coach Vic Fangio fired Scangarello and replaced him with Pat Shurmur. There’s plenty of smoke around the idea that Fangio and Scangarello didn’t have the strongest of working relationships.

Check out this exchange I had with Fangio on Tuesday morning:

What were some of Scangarello’s strengths?

“Rich is a good football coach. He knew the system well that he came from, does a good job with quarterbacks. I think Rich has got a bright future.”

What specifically did you like about Scangarello as a coach?

“I think for the first year in there, he did a good job. We played with three quarterbacks, so that has some stress to it. He did a good job of handling that.”

So why didn’t it work?

“That’s a long answer to a short question. I’m not going to get into that.”

See? Plenty of smoke.

Fangio did say on Tuesday that he wanted his offense to be more aggressive in 2020, so perhaps that’s another reason they elected to make a switch.

The word out of Denver is the area where Scangarello struggled was on game day, calling plays. On the flip side, he seemed to excel in preparation and game-planning. The good news for the Eagles is that Pederson is probably never going to give up play-calling responsibilities, so they won’t need Scangarello to do much on game day anyway. They’ll be able to utilize his strengths without worrying about his weaknesses.

Only Pederson really knows the logistics of how this new offensive structure will really work. It’s rare for a team to not have someone with an offensive coordinator title but it’s not unheard of. And the Eagles even thought of deviating from the norm back in 2018 when they promoted Mike Groh.

If this structure doesn’t work in 2020, that failure will belong to Pederson. But if it does work, Scangarello will be a big reason why. 

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How Andy Reid’s life has changed since winning the Super Bowl

How Andy Reid’s life has changed since winning the Super Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS — If you were expecting Andy Reid to win his first Super Bowl and turn into a different guy, you don’t know Andy Reid.

At the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Reid spoke to a huge gathering of reporters at the first big NFL event since his Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

And guess what?

Not much has changed for Big Red.

“I stay in the office, so I’m isolated a little bit that way. There’s not much change there. I’m sure the players, if you talk to them, they’re out there and being recognized as world champs. 

I have gotten a couple free meals. That was nice. But I’m not out there that much to where I’m affected by it too much.”

Gotta love when Andy plays the hits.

Reid said he and his staff enjoyed the Super Bowl for a few days. They had a parade and reveled briefly but then it was back to business as usual. The focus then had to immediately switch to free agency and the draft in what was now a suddenly short offseason.

“Maybe someday when we get a little older and we’re out of the game, you can sit back and go, hey, you know what, we did pretty good there,” Reid said. “But right now, it’s buckling down and making sure we take care of business."

During the Chiefs’ run to the Super Bowl, Reid was very aware of the support he was receiving from Philadelphia, where he spent 14 seasons as head coach. Not everyone was rooting for him but it seemed like a large portion of Philadelphians were happy to see Reid hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

On Tuesday, Reid was asked if he’s heard from folks in Philly since winning the big game.

"Yeah, I’ve talked to all those guys. I’ve stayed close to the organization,” Reid said before scanning the crowd in front of him. “Guys like Les (Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Les Bowen) I’ve stayed close with.”

Les gave a wave.

“There are a couple other guys here that are Philadelphia here,” Reid continued. “I spent 14 years there. I appreciated every bit of it. Jeff Lurie, I appreciated him being at the game and supporting me there, too."

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