The competitiveness and overall expectations for the Eagles this season took a hit when Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota. Not that expectations were high to begin with, but I certainly pegged them to be legitimate contenders for the division and/or a wildcard birth.
My initial reaction to the news of the Bradford trade was that it was a great move. I couldn’t believe we landed a first round pick for him, let alone an additional fourth. Bradford more than likely would have been gone next year and we would have been lucky to get a third-rounder for him, if anything at all.
After the euphoria of making the trade wore off, then came the inevitable downside that, hey, we just gave up our starting QB a week before the season begins. Did we just trade away all hope for making the playoffs in 2016?
Logic says that now this season will be sacrificed as a learning year for Carson Wentz. Let him take his lumps, learn, and hopefully show the promise of being franchise QB we drafted him to be.
End result, a losing season in the standings but hopefully a season that sparks the type of feeling Philadelphia had after watching Donovan McNabb play during his rookie season.
However, then I realized something about the opponent the Eagles face this week. Cleveland’s starting QB is the much-maligned RG3. Griffin was a rookie himself just four years ago after being selected at No. 2 overall in the 2012 draft.
He started his rookie season and was able to lead the Redskins to a 10-6 record and division title with an overall team that is along the same lines talent-wise as the Eagles.
To boot, he and Washington ended up losing in the wildcard round to yet another team who started their rookie QB that year as well: Seattle (Russell Wilson).
That’s two teams not all that long ago who were still competitive and made the playoffs with rookie QBs.
The Eagles’ strength this year should be the defense, much like it was for Seattle and Washington for that matter back in 2012. At least one defender seems to recognize that they will have to pick up some slack left by the perceived downgrade on offense…
“I think it just changes your path to get there,” Jenkins said. “The formula has to change a little bit when you’re talking about what you’re trying to do offensively. I don’t think you want to put [Wentz] out there in a situation where he feels he has to win games.
“And it puts a little more on your defense and special teams.”
That’s right Malcolm, it does put more on the defense and special teams. And that’s what we are going to have to hope for…that the defense can be the backbone of the team this season, have some contributions from the special teams and that Wentz can make some plays while keeping the turnovers to a manageable number.
Ultimately, just because the Eagles are starting their prized rookie QB doesn’t mean all hope is lost for this year.
Besides the aforementioned successes of Seattle and Washington with starting rookie QBs, we had Andrew Luck and the Colts, Mark Sanchez and the Jets, Matt Ryan and the Falcons, Joe Flacco and the Ravens, and of course Ben Roethlisberger and Steelers all make the playoffs when starting their rookie years.
Carson Wentz has talent. He has the talent to make enough plays to help the Eagles win some games this year. He will need help from the guys around him, for sure, but the playoffs are not out of the question.
Come on, if the Jets could make the playoffs in Mark friggin Sanchez’s rookie year, the Eagles can do it with Wentz.