Staying healthy not the biggest challenge for Carson Wentz

Reuben Frank
NBC Sports Philadelphia

The expectations are astronomical.

The comparisons are inevitable.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

The pressure is incredible.

That's the position Carson Wentz finds himself in this fall with his close friend Nick Foles now a Jacksonville Jaguar.

Wentz is The Guy now. The safety net is gone. He's on his own now with only two possible outcomes: Win a Super Bowl and escape the inevitable Foles comparisons or fall short and deal with them the rest of his career.

We know Wentz is insanely talented.

He's the only quarterback in NFL history to complete 64 percent of his passes with at least 70 touchdowns and fewer than 30 interceptions in his first three seasons.

But beyond whether he can stay healthy is the equally important question of whether he's ready to handle living up to a flat-out legend.

As the only Eagles quarterback to win a Super Bowl, Foles' legacy here is cemented for eternity.

A Super Bowl MVP. A statue. A best-selling inspirational autobiography.

That's all Wentz has to live up to.

I think he's very equipped to handle it," Doug Pederson said. "He's the type of guy who doesn't let that kind of stuff bother him. Listen, he learned from Nick, from watching Nick and how Nick operated. He learned. He had two years of learning. I think this is a great opportunity for him to embrace his new role.

Until he wins a Super Bowl, everything Wentz does is going to be compared to what Foles did.

And no number of touchdowns, no amount of passing yards, no collection of Pro Bowl nods is going to change that.

It's a tremendous amount of pressure trying to live up to a flat-out Philly legend.

There is going to be criticism, obviously, and there is going to be the comparison game and all that," Pederson said. "But the best (thing) we can as coaches and players is to block it out and focus on what we're doing. That's what you see. He can tune that out pretty easily and just focus on his job, and getting ready for his next opponent.

There's a school of thought that it will be good for Wentz that his pal is gone. 

The thinking is that Wentz will be able to really take ownership of the Eagles' quarterback position now that Foles is with the Jaguars in a way he just couldn't do when Foles was standing on the sidelines with the clipboard.

But even without Foles here literally, he's sure here figuratively.

Pederson said the key for Wentz is to take what he's learned from watching Foles the last two years - his ability to stay calm and relaxed in the face of adversity, to take what the defense gives him and not try to do too much, to rally the Eagles back from late deficits - and use it get the most out of his own prodigious talent.

The last two years we have been blessed … for what (Nick) has been able to do and I am happy for where Nick is and having an opportunity for himself," Pederson said. "But this is also a great opportunity for Carson. To really regain the type of player he is, what we saw in 2017 and really what we saw in 2018 when he was playing.

Foles was 29 when he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title.

Wentz is 26, and in the last 25 years only three quarterbacks - Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger - have won Super Bowls before their 27th birthday.

Wentz has plenty of time to join his friend and former teammate in achieving football's greatest accomplishment. But every year he doesn't, you know exactly what he's going to hear.

We all know.

"Nick won a Super Bowl. When are you going to win one?"

That pressure only grew when the Eagles gave Wentz a four-year, $128 million contract extension.

Quite frankly, I don't think a lot of that bothers him," Pederson said. "He just moves on. He's excited for this new season. It's a new team, there are new guys around him. He's energized, he feels good and I am just excited for that. I don't like to look back. Can we learn from past experiences? Yeah we can learn from them, but I don't want to keep going backwards, backwards, backwards. We are forward driven, forward thinking, and that is what he has to do as well.

Wentz has the arm to be the best. He has the legs to be the best. He has the mind to be the best.

The only way for him to escape the imposing shadow of his former backup is to win a Super Bowl. Or two.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Staying healthy not the biggest challenge for Carson Wentz originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

What to Read Next