Carson Wentz's first season as a Commander is full of reunions, but no matchup is more meaningful than his return to the City of Brotherly Love.
Now with Washington and back in the NFC East, Wentz will get to face the Eagles -- the team that drafted him second overall in 2016 -- twice. The first meeting is at FedEx Field in Week 3. Then in Week 10, the Commanders travel to Philadelphia for a Monday night tilt, Wentz's first game back at Lincoln Financial Field since he was traded to Indianapolis last spring.
There's a reason the NFL scheduled Wentz's return to Philadelphia on primetime. It's a massive game. Yet speaking on NFL Total Access on Thursday following the schedule release, Wentz tried to downplay what it'll be like facing the Eagles, a team he spent five seasons with, for the first time since departing.
"I know that'll be a big game. A lot of emotions. I'm sure fans will eat that one up and it'll be fun and make for a good storyline," Wentz said. "But at the end of the day, it's going to be just another ballgame. It's going to be a huge divisional game for us when that one comes. So I'm excited for it, but at the same time, I'm trying not to get too excited for that one, because, again, it's just football. Can't press. Can't do too much."
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Wentz's five-year tenure with the Eagles had a lot more highs than lows. The team made the playoffs three straight times, highlighted by a Super Bowl in 2017. Although Wentz didn't play in the team's championship run due to a knee injury, his MVP-caliber play during the regular season put the Eagles in position to earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC and go on to win the title.
After one year with the Colts, Wentz is back in the NFC East with Washington. Although the QB admitted he didn't imagine this would be how his career would have turned out, he's thrilled to be back in the division he's plenty familiar with.
"Lot of familiarity in this division," he said. "Hopefully I can bring some of that insight to the locker room, to the team and then kind of be that leader as well. A lot of familiarity and I'm looking forward to getting back in this division. It feels right."
Wentz's reunion tour doesn't start with the Eagles, though. The Commanders host Jacksonville in Week 1, who just hired Wentz's former Eagles coach, Doug Pederson, as its new boss. Wentz and Pederson spent five years together in Philadelphia.
Facing the Jaguars right off the bat carries a little extra juice for Wentz, too. Wentz's lone season with the Colts ended with a Week 18 loss to a previously two-win Jaguars team. That crushing defeat marked the unofficial end for Wentz in Indianapolis, even if Colts GM Chris Ballard says the team was considering moving on from the QB regardless.
"Obviously, it will be a big game, lot of emotions going on running out here at FedEx Field. First one as a Commander," Wentz said on facing Jacksonville. "Lot of familiar faces on the other side of the ball. Obviously, the last game of last year was against the Jaguars as well and didn't go quite as planned, so definitely trying to regroup from that one and hopefully set the stage for this season the right way."
Wentz and the Commanders also face the Colts in Indianapolis in Week 8, which should be another emotionally-invested game for Washington's new QB.
Now with his third team in as many seasons, Wentz, 29, knows this opportunity in Washington could be his last to prove he's still a franchise quarterback. Since arriving in Washington, the QB has received full support from head coach Ron Rivera and the rest of the Commanders' staff.
Wentz is looking forward to playing for Rivera, a coach he said he's "had a lot of respect for from afar." The quarterback is also excited about the opportunities for big plays in Scott Turner's offense, as well as the chance to throw to a receiving corps he called "dynamic" and "explosive."
Wentz understands how important the 2022 season is for the rest of his career. He's already looking forward to the challenge and is excited about the potential the Commanders have.
"I'm going to do everything I can just like I always have and not try and force anything or push the issue or do anything outside of what I can do and what I can control," Wentz said. "Go out and try and play good football. Be accurate, be consistent, be the same guy, be a leader. I think we have a pretty young squad -- trying to be a veteran voice and a leader in that way -- and just go do my job. We have a lot of playmakers out here, and I'm excited to see how this offense kind of takes shape and what we can do."