Eagles

Eagles

You could have understood if there was tension between them, if they resented each other, if they kept their distance during the four months they spent together.

On the contrary.

Carson Wentz and Sam Bradford quickly became pals.

The Eagles brought in Wentz specifically to replace Bradford. Yet despite his initial reaction — disappearing from voluntary workouts for a couple weeks — Bradford grew to not just accept Wentz but also befriend him.

Ultimately, both got what they wanted. The Eagles traded Bradford to the Vikings for a first-round pick, which gave Bradford a chance to start for a contending team that wanted him, and Wentz got the starting job in Philly sooner than expected.

Both have played extremely well this year. Bradford and Wentz rank fourth and 10th in the NFL in passer rating, the Vikings are 5-0 and the Eagles 3-2, and they meet Sunday in a fascinating matchup between two hot quarterbacks who were teammates just seven weeks ago.

“I’ve tried to watch him when I can,” Bradford said. “I still have a lot of friends on that team and I’ve tried to watch as much as possible, and from what Carson’s done, it’s been awesome to see him play the way he has and it really doesn’t surprise me.

“I think if you look at where he came in in OTAs and the progress he made and the way he was playing at the end of training camp, he was playing at a really high level.  

 

“Mentally, he’s very sharp. I think he really understands the game. He was great with the protections and the checks.”

Wentz has opened his career by completing 65 percent of his passes with seven touchowns and one interception. His 99.9 passer rating is fifth-highest in NFL history by a rookie after five games, behind only Dan Marino, Dak Prescott, Robert Griffin III and Ben Roethlisberger.

Bradford has been even better. He’s completed 70 percent of his passes with six TDs and no interceptions. He’s the first quarterback in NFL history through five weeks to complete 70 percent of his passes with no interceptions and 245 yards per game.

"When I first got here, it was good to have Sam and Chase (Daniel) and the coaches," Wentz said, "but I really talked with Sam quite a bit and Chase and just really wanted to dive deeper into this offense.

"Sam had some good insight on our offense and also he was in a number of (other) systems as well, so they were really good conversations and really built a good relationship with him and I’m looking forward to playing them."

The Vikings, the NFL’s only remaining unbeaten team, face the Eagles at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Linc.

Bradford will be looking for his career-best sixth straight win going back to the end of the last year and the Giants game. Wentz will be trying to give the Eagles their first win since the Steelers before the bye.

Bradford was clear about how disappointed he was that the Eagles traded up to No. 2 to draft Wentz, but he never let that get in the way of his relationship with the 23-year-old North Dakota State product.

“Man, he was great,” Bradford said. “He was a real pro just the way he handled himself in the film room and on the practice field. I could tell early on that he wanted to be great, that he was committed to coming in every day and working really hard. I think the progress he made from OTAs to training camp, it was phenomenal.

“You could see it on the practice field. It seemed like he was always getting better each day that he went out there.”

Bradford said he was specifically impressed with Wentz’s work ethic.

“I think he probably went above and beyond what the normal standards would be,” he said. “You could tell early on that he wants to be great, he works at it, he cares about it, he put in a lot of extra time and I think it showed up on the field for him.”

Wentz said he picked up a lot of X-and-O type of stuff from Bradford in the film room and meeting room and practice field but also learned some intangibles from the 28-year-old Bradford, who’s in his seventh NFL season.

 

“We talked obviously a lot about the playbook and those sorts of things but you pick up on all sorts of things,” Wentz said.

“Everyone kind of has their own identity, their own approach to being a leader, to being a quarterback, and I definitely soaked up some of (those) things as well.”

The Wentz-Bradford matchup is intriguing for a lot of reasons. Here’s another one: North Dakota borders Minnesota, and there aren’t a whole lot of football teams in that part of the country.

Fargo, where Wentz played his college football at North Dakota State, is only 3½ hours up I-94 from Minneapolis.

And a lot of North Dakota football fans used to wearing Adrian Peterson, Alan Page or Randy Moss jerseys have a difficult decision to make.

“There’s a lot of Vikings fans back home,” Wentz said. “I think there’s a lot of people who’ll be torn on Sunday.”