Eagles

Russell Wilson: Carson Wentz going to be 'great for a long time'

Russell Wilson: Carson Wentz going to be 'great for a long time'

Before he lived in North Dakota and became a star at North Dakota State, Carson Wentz lived with his family in Raleigh, N.C.

He was only 4 years old when the family moved up to North Dakota, but by then he was a North Carolina State fan for life.

When Wentz was a star sophomore in high school in Bismarck, North Carolina State had a smart, athletic quarterback named Russell Wilson.

Wentz instantly became a fan.

“I’ve always been a big fan of his, since I was younger,” Wentz said. “He was an N.C. State guy and I was an N.C. State fan as a kid, so watched him, followed him for a while, been a big fan of his, have a lot of respect for him.”

Wilson finished his college career at Wisconsin, but Wentz has always admired Wilson, who has a 52-20-1 record in 4½ years with the Seahawks, with three Pro Bowls, seven playoff wins and a Super Bowl championship.

“The way he came into the league right away, and kind of took it by storm as a (third-round) pick,” Wentz said. “It was impressive. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and looking forward to going up against him.”

Wilson makes his 73rd career start Sunday when the Eagles face the Seahawks at 4:25 p.m. at CenturyLink Stadium in Seattle. Wentz will make his 10th career start.

Wentz, much like Wilson in 2012, has been very impressive as a rookie quarterback.

His 65.0 completion percentage is fourth-best in NFL history by a rookie (Wilson’s 64.1 percent is sixth-best), and his 1.61 interception percentage is third-best (Wilson’s 2.54 is 13th-best). Wentz’s 87.6 passer rating so far is ninth-best ever by a rookie. Wilson’s 101.5 is third-best.

“He’s just really calm back there,” Wentz said of Wilson. “He’s got really calm feet and just very poised. I think it’s impressive the way he’s really poised.

“He still scrambles and makes plays and improves, which are things I think a lot of quarterbacks respect, but at the same time he never looks rattled. He always just looks very poised back there.”

Wilson is actually less than two years older than Wentz, although he’s now in his fifth NFL season.

“I’ve been fortunate to watch Carson this past year and see a few of his games and he’s playing great football and he’s going to be a great football player for a long time,” Wilson said.

“He’s athletic, he can make all the throws, he’s a smart guy, he’s competitive. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great football player. You guys have a good one in him.”

Wentz and Wilson are both athletic and can move around, but where Wilson is a very capable runner — he’s rushed for nearly 2,500 yards with a 5.6 average in his career — Wentz runs only as a last resort.

Wentz's 13-yard scramble Sunday was a career long, and he has just 46 rushing yards and a 1.7 average in his rookie year.

“For me personally, I want to be a passer first,” Wentz said. “I want to throw first. When the pocket breaks down I might try to improvise, but I’m still trying to throw.

“I think Russell’s a little faster than me too, let’s not beat around the bush there. But I think it’s just the personality that I have. I don’t think it’s so much the play-calling as much as just the type of players we are.”

Wentz is aware of the challenge going into Seattle.

Since 2012, when the Seahawks started their run of playoff appearances, they’re 33-5 on their home field.

The only opposing quarterbacks to win at CenturyLink since 2012 are Carson Palmer twice and Tony Romo, Case Keenum and Cam Newton once each.

Only seven of those 38 opposing QBs threw more than one touchdown pass. Only two have gone into Seattle since 2012 and thrown more than one TD pass and no interceptions: Mike Glennon in 2013 and Romo in 2014.

Wentz was asked what it will take for the Eagles, who have lost four straight on the road, to win Sunday in Seattle.

“For us, we established the run game early last week and I think that was huge for us, to get the big boys up front going like that, to get Ryan (Mathews) going again,” Wentz said.

“I think it’s going to take an effort like that. We’re going to have to win in the trenches again and be sharp in the passing game, take what’s there, be smart. We’ve got to protect the football, we’ve got to limit our penalties — we still had too many last week that we have to clean up. We just have to play a very sound football game.”

The Eagles’ fourth-quarter comeback Sunday against the Falcons was their first in any game since a 30-27 win over the Colts in 2014, with Nick Foles at the helm, and it propelled the Eagles back over .500 after they had lost four of their previous five games.

“I think it gives us confidence for the rest of the season,” Wentz said. “We’ve always been a confident team. We always believe that we can get the job done, no matter the circumstances.

“Granted, the four losses we didn’t get the job done, so it was good for us all to show that we can do it and kind of get over that hump. It definitely gives us confidence going forward that we can finish ballgames and we are a good football team.”

Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

The offseason marches on with your questions. 

I already answered your first bunch, including questions on Sidney Jones, Jay Ajayi and running backs in the draft. Now, it’s time for Part 2 of 3. 

Let’s get to it: 

I got a few questions about Nate Sudfeld this week and I certainly understand why. He’s now the Eagles’ backup quarterback and Carson Wentz has finished the last two seasons on the shelf. I think there are legitimate reasons for concern. From the time the Eagles got Sudfeld, I thought he was a possible QB2. The problem here is that he is unproven; we haven’t seen much of him outside of summer practices and minimal game action. It’s somewhat of a gamble for a team with Super Bowl aspirations to go into a season with an unproven backup, especially because of Wentz’s injury history. 

But, to be clear, I like what I’ve seen from Sudfeld. He seems to be pretty athletic and has a big arm. The Eagles have shown how much they like him at every turn. This is one of those situations where I’m skeptical, but just kind of trust their evaluation. 

I don’t think the Curry signing affects Long’s decision as much as it tells us the Eagles are preparing for the possibility Long isn’t back. You have to remember, Curry can play inside and outside, so he might not take as many reps from Long as you think. We’ll see what happens soon with the draft. Long has said he doesn’t want to return as just a locker room guy and a high draft pick would take even more playing time away from him. The Eagles should hope he returns, though. Even at his age, he’s still a productive pass rusher. 

This is one of the big ideas I want to ask Doug Pederson about next week at the owners meetings. The Eagles now have a bunch of different pass catching options. They have a really talented trio of receivers to go along with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Even though Goedert is a really impressive young player, it’s hard to imagine he would be left out at times. The Eagles didn’t trade for DeSean Jackson to sit him on the bench and they aren’t pay Nelson Agholor over $9 million this season to be a spectator. And Alshon Jeffery is going to play. 

It’s a good problem to have, but Pederson needs to figure out a way to get everyone involved. It might be a nightmare for fantasy football owners, though, because I think the game plan will change based on the matchups from week to week. Some weeks they’ll go heavy 11 personnel, but I wouldn’t rule out heavy 12 personnel with Ertz and Goedert on the field sometimes too. 

I don’t. I do agree that running back and linebacker are their two most pressing needs, but I just wouldn’t use a top pick on a linebacker. Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I think it’s much more likely they leave the first two days of the draft with a running back instead of a linebacker. I still believe the Eagles will use No. 25 on a lineman (offense or defense) and will then look at running back with one of their second-round picks. I think they use a Day 3 pick on a linebacker unless they really think they found tremendous value. 

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Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Taken individually, all the Eagles’ moves so far this offseason make sense. 

Taken as a whole, they raise concern whether the Eagles are getting too old. More specifically, whether Howie Roseman is committing too many dollars to guys on the back end of their careers.

Jason Peters got another year. He’s 37. Jason Kelce got another year and is now signed through 2021. He’s 31. Brandon Graham got a pretty big three-year deal. He turns 31 in a couple weeks.

DeSean Jackson got a sizable contract for a guy who’s 32. Andrew Sendejo is 31. Vinny Curry turns 31 this summer. 

I’ve got no problem with any of the moves taken apart from the others. But the analytics make it pretty clear that older guys are more likely to get hurt or see their production diminish dramatically. 

We saw it last year with guys like Peters, Darren Sproles, Haloti Ngata and Mike Wallace. 

Now, young guys get hurt too, but the older you are as a team, the more you’re at risk. And when those older guys have high cap figures, it makes it tough to function when they start missing time.

According to pro sports salary cap tracker Spotrac, the Eagles had the 17th-oldest team in 2017, when they won the Super Bowl, and the ninth-oldest team last year, when they advanced a round deep in the playoffs. 

Today — and obviously rosters are nowhere near settled — the Eagles have the fifth-oldest team in the NFL.

The Eagles’ nucleus is guys in that 28-to-32 range. Alshon Jeffery, Malcolm Jenkins, Kelce, Nigel Bradham, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Jackson, Graham, Malik Jackson. 

Who are their best players under 28? Carson Wentz is 26, Nelson Agholor is 25, their promising young defensive backs like Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are all in their early 20s. Derek Barnett is only 22. 

But there are question marks about every one of them.

This is why Roseman, Joe Douglas and Co. have to nail this draft and the next couple drafts. This is a roster that really needs an infusion of young talent. 

When this current group of veteran stars moves on, who takes over?

Roseman has had only three drafts since being returned to power, and he’s taken only six guys in the first three rounds. Of that group, Wentz is a certified Pro Bowler and a star, although he still needs to show he can stay healthy. 

And Dallas Goedert certainly seems like a stud. 

But the others — Barnett, Jones, Isaac Seumalo and Douglas — are works in progress.

The Eagles have found one Pro Bowl defensive player in their last 13 drafts, and that was Cox in 2012. 

Their draft record has been better on offense, but the Lane Johnson/Ertz draft is now six years old.

The Eagles aren’t in the danger zone. Not yet. But things change quickly in the NFL and teams that can’t keep up in terms of young talent inevitably fall by the wayside.

The Eagles have three of the first 57 picks in next month’s draft, and as of now they have their own picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft, plus two 5’s in addition to the compensatory picks they’re stockpiling.

So the opportunity is there to get younger. To get faster and more durable. To find the talent to remain a perennial contender for a deep postseason run.

Right now, the Eagles have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. I see them as a legit Super Bowl contender.

But in the next few years, the face of the Eagles will change dramatically. 

To remain competitive, to remain elite, they need stars to emerge once guys like Peters, Graham, Jenkins, Jackson and Kelce either move on, retire or experience a downturn in their productiveness.

All they have to do is find them.

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