A year ago at this time, Carson Wentz was living in Fargo patiently waiting to be cleared from a wrist injury so he could lead the North Dakota State Bison into the FCS Championship game.
A lot has changed since then.
Wentz returned in time to win his second championship before he quickly became the hottest draft prospect in the country. He wowed the Eagles at the Senior Bowl and again at the Combine, enough for them to trade up to the No. 2 pick to get him.
And then his expected redshirt year was canceled about a week before the season began, when Sam Bradford was traded to the Vikings. Wentz started all 16 games for the Eagles this season and hasn’t figuratively been able to breathe in quite some time.
As of Monday at around 1:15 p.m., when he met with assembled Philly reporters at the NovaCare Complex, that was about to change. The offseason had arrived.
“A year ago at this time, my life was crazy different,” Wentz said. “How many things have changed and what all just transpired this season. Definitely need to take some time to reflect and just sit back and look at all the crazy things that have happened in my life.”
The next few weeks for 24-year-old will include reflecting, relaxing and hunting, “obviously.” What the upcoming weeks won’t include for the no-longer-rookie quarterback is throwing a football.
On Monday, Wentz said he’s going to have to “fight the urge to touch a football” for at least three or four weeks.
“It’s been a long haul from my college season through the pre-draft process to this whole offseason,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun, learned a lot. But it’s definitely been physical and mentally taxing. I’m not sure of an exact timetable for workouts and everything, but I am also excited to get back to work so I might have to be fighting that urge a little bit.”
One of the things that probably took some getting used to was the amount of attention he’s received since arriving to Philadelphia. He’s been heralded as the savior of the organization, which is daunting talk. Wentz said he understands the role he has with the team and in the city – “I get it. I’m very aware,” he said – but tries not to think about it. He doesn’t want the pressure to ever become overwhelming.
Not only did Wentz start all 16 games for the Eagles, but he also played 1,127 of 1,133 possible snaps, missing just six in the Giants' game while he got checked out for a concussion.
He finished the season completing 379 of 607 passes for 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
His 379 completions were good for a new Eagles and NFL rookie record. His 607 attempts are the most in Eagles history and the second-most for an NFL rookie ever. And his 3,782 yards is the fourth-highest total in team history, surpassing Bradford’s season from a year ago.
So how did Wentz think he played this season?
“I thought it was OK,” he said. “It definitely wasn’t where it needs to be, for sure. We were ultimately 7-9. That’s what it all boils down to. I thought I learned a lot. I thought I grew as far as mentally and physically on the field. Definitely nowhere near where I want to be and where I think we can be as a team. But I thought we did some good things too.”
When asked what specific mechanical things he needs to work on for his second NFL season, Wentz said there isn’t one glaring thing. It’s more about being consistent. He said it’s a possibility he could work with an outside “quarterback guru” this offseason.
But he wasn’t interested in thinking about mechanics Monday.
“For starters, I don’t want to think about that right now,” he said. “Once I start thinking about that, then I’m really going to have to fight the urge to pick up the ball.”
For now, Wentz will be relegated to relaxing – as hard as it might be – while the bad taste from a personally unusual losing season lingers in his mouth.
“Yeah, we won last night and that was cool, but it was weird last night and this morning coming in,” Wentz said. “We’re not going to be back. That same team, that same locker room will never be the same. It’s kind of a crappy feeling. We’re going to use that now. I know I’m going to personally use that. I know I never want to have that feeling. I want to be playing into January for the rest of my career, God willing, and we’re going to see what happens.”