Carson Wentz calls Week 1 vs. Jaguars a 'fun story' but just another game

·4 min read

Carson Wentz calls Week 1 vs. Jaguars a 'fun story' but just another game originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

ASHBURN, Va. -- Carson Wentz understands the fascination behind the storyline of him facing the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1. But the new Washington Commanders quarterback isn't treating this Sunday's opener any different than any other game.

"It obviously makes for a fun story and all that," Wentz said following practice Wednesday. "But for me, it's Week 1. It's another football game. Last year was last year."

The last time Wentz played a regular season game, he was the starting quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. Entering Week 18 of last season, all the Colts needed to do to secure a postseason bid was travel to Jacksonville and defeat the lowly Jaguars, who entered that contest with two wins.

Unfortunately for Wentz and the Colts, that didn't happen. Indianapolis' offense was never able to get in a rhythm, as Jacksonville pulled off a shocking upset to keep the Colts out of the playoffs. From that point forward, Wentz's future in Indianapolis became murky. In March, he was traded to Washington. The rest is history.

Wentz's first game as a Commander is against the same Jaguars team that played a role in ending his tenure with the Colts. But as the quarterback put it, the 2022 Jacksonville squad looks a lot different than the club that he faced roughly nine months ago.

"It was a different team, I was with a different team," Wentz said. "They were coached by a different coach. A lot of new things. So for me, this is an entirely new script that we're starting off and hopefully starting the right way.”

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The Jaguars underwent a facelift this offseason, but the new man in charge is someone Wentz is plenty familiar with.

In need of a new head coach following the Urban Meyer debacle, Jacksonville hired Doug Pederson this offseason. Pederson, who coached the Philadelphia Eagles from 2015-2020, drafted Wentz second overall in 2016. The two spent five seasons together and won three NFC East titles, highlighted by Wentz's MVP-level play in 2017 before tearing his ACL.

“He meant a lot. I thought he was a great coach, great guy, fun to be around, meant a lot over the years," Wentz said. "Went through a lot of good and some of the bad, obviously, but altogether [he] means a lot to me.”

Playing under Pederson for five seasons, Wentz is quite knowledgable of the brand of football Pederson likes to run. Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said Monday he was going to pick Wentz's brain about Pederson, hoping to learn a few things to give the home side an advantage come Sunday afternoon.

Of course, Pederson's game plan against Washington will defer from things he's done in the past. There's only so much Wentz can share about his former coach that will truly give the Commanders a step up on Jacksonville. There's also the flip side of this equation, too: Pederson knows Wentz as well as any coach in the league.

So, while Wentz and the Commanders might have some idea of what to expect, there's still a ton Pederson likely has up his sleeve.

"[He's a] great coach, a lot of respect for him over the years," Wentz said. "It'll be interesting to see what they do, obviously it's a different defensive coordinator. It's some different pieces over there, but I know he'll have his guys ready. I always felt ready when I played for him. I know his offense will be ready to do some good things. I'm confident in our defense at the same time, but it'll be fun to compete against them.”

Between facing Pederson and the Jaguars, Sunday's contest will feature plenty of ties to Wentz's past.

But this Sunday also marks a new beginning for Wentz, too. Washington officially begins the Commanders era this weekend and the organization views Wentz as a big part of its future. While the quarterback's past two stops ended on sour notes, he has a great opportunity this weekend to begin his Washington tenure on the right foot.

"We got to go win a game," Wentz said. "Hopefully we put a good product out there and give people something to cheer about.”