Everybody sees something different in Carson Wentz. One NFL team concluded he would never develop into a top-20 quarterback; the Eagles traded three years' worth of draft picks to get him. Some see the best quarterback prospect to come out in the draft since Andrew Luck; somebody else says Wentz is a "slightly worse version" of Blake Bortles. There are people hung up on Wentz's mechanical issues, and can't see past the inconsistent production as a rookie; others were impressed by what he was able to do as a rookie lacking weapons on offense.
Some people think Wentz will never overcome the stigma of being an injury-prone, small-school quarterback with limited experience at North Dakota State. Some people believe Wentz has the makeup and ability to lead the Eagles to multiple Super Bowl championships.
Such a wide disparity in perspectives might seem unusual, but it's not. The truth is we don't yet know how good Wentz is going to be in the NFL. From watching him for one season, I, like most people, have a gut feeling. Yet, if we took Luck's body of work after his first pro season and based his trajectory off of that, we could have forecasted multiple rings by now. Conversely, if we evaluated Matt Stafford based off of one year, one might reason he would be bouncing around the league today, rather than poised to become its richest player. Bortles looked like an ascending player in 2015, then took a step back last season. Nobody ever would've suspected Drew Brees was going to become one of the most prolific passers in history based off his first few years in the league.
In other words, the debates over Wentz's ceiling and attempting to predict how he'll fare in 2017 are futile exercises. Make no mistake, his progression is absolutely essential, both to the Eagles making the playoffs this coming season, and the franchise's hope of one day finally winning a Super Bowl. There's no arguing that. There simply is no way of knowing what will happen, either.
The only thing we do know about Wentz for sure should still provide fans some comfort. For the first time in as far back as a decade, the Eagles don't have a question mark at the most important position on the football field. Whether he ever becomes a top-20 quarterback; whether he was worth the draft picks; wherever he falls on the Luck-Bortles spectrum; whether he fixes his mechanics; whether his consistency and production improve with experience and a better supporting cast; whether he overcomes the stigma of his college background; whether he goes on to win championships or not – Wentz is here now and will be behind center for the foreseeable future.
Wentz is 24, with a contract that runs through 2020 with the fifth-year option. When was the last time the Eagles had this kind of clarity at the quarterback position going into a season? The most recent signal caller the club signed to a long-term deal was Mike Vick in 2011, when he was 32 and his limitations as a passer were already beginning to show. We probably need to go back even further, to Donovan McNabb in 2007, after Jeff Garcia's departure, but before Kevin Kolb was drafted. Even then, McNabb was an agining player returning from an ACL injury amid widespread clamoring for Garcia.
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles and their NFL rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
To truly find a time when there was this much confidence in the long-term outlook at quarterback for the Eagles, you may even have to go back to the early days of the McNabb era. It was never quite the same once half the fans thought he threw up in the Super Bowl, and since then, numerous bandwagons have quickly filled, only to empty with varying haste.
Garcia, Kolb, Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, Marcus Mariota – all of that nonsense is over for a while. The job belongs to Wentz.
I could hit you with all kinds of research and statistics that indicate Wentz is going to be a great quarterback, or isn't going to be a great quarterback. Or I could spit some hot takes that will serve to stir the pot and keep folks talking. It's just noise. Nobody knows.
What I can tell you for a fact is Wentz showed potential as a rookie, and he is going to be the man for the next two-to-four years, at least. And after literally a decade or longer of uncertainty at the quarterback position for the Eagles, that stability should be reason enough to get excited about the direction of the franchise. For once, instead of trying to guess how it will all turn out in the end, maybe just try to enjoy the ride.