The Philadelphia Eagles traded multiple picks to move up to second overall in this year's draft to select former North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz.
According to Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, it was a wise investment.
"He’s pretty damn impressive," Fangio said today. "It looks now that Philadelphia is going to be very well-rewarded for the risk they took on draft day giving up a lot of stuff to get this guy because he looks like he’s going to be a long-term hell of a quarterback. They took a chance and they did a hell of a job with it and I think they’re going to be rewarded with it."
Wentz was slated to sit his first year in Philadelphia but after the Eagles traded Sam Bradford to the Vikings for a first-round pick, Wentz was thrust into the starting role.
"They got Christmas given to them when the Vikings had their unfortunate [injury to Teddy Bridgewater] and they were able to unload their overload at quarterback for a couple picks," Fangio said.
In the regular season opener, Wentz did not look like a rookie. Against the Cleveland Browns, Wentz completed 22 of 37 pass attempts (59.5 percent) for 278 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs.
"I think the guy is very impressive," said Fangio. "He has a big arm, can move, he’s athletic and mobile. He’s very poised, doesn’t get flustered. He’s very comfortable in running their offense even though he only played a little bit in the preseason. Obviously the work they’ve done with him, their coaching staff, through the OTAs and the training camp was time very well spent. He’s been a quick study and learns well."
In Week 1, Texans QB Brock Osweiler threw for 231 and 2 TDs against the Bears. Osweiler started half the season for the Broncos last year but the relatively inexperienced NFL QB, playing in a brand new offense in Houston, had his way with Chicago's suspect secondary in the opener.
Much of that had to do with a lack of pass rush up front. OLB Leonard Floyd and NT Eddie Goldman shared a sack, but the only other sack came from ILB Danny Trevathan on the blitz. For most of the game, Chicago's pass rushers -- including OLB Willie Young, who signed a two-year contract extension this off-season -- were nonexistent.
"I think Willie is capable of better and we need him to be better," Fangio said.
The lack of pass rush was especially harmful to the Bears on 3rd down, in which the Texans converted 12 of 20 attempts (60 percent). That said, the Eagles converted just 5 of 15 on 3rd down (33 percent) against the woefully untalented Browns defense, so if the pass rush shows up the Bears should be able to get off the field on 3rd downs.
“Third down is a big down in the NFL. It’s a point of emphasis every week," said Fangio. "Everybody talks takeaways, which we do too. But after takeaways, you’ve got to win on 3rd down to take the ball away. So it’s an emphasis for us. I’m sure it’s an emphasis for them. We’ve got to stay out of the 3rd-and-shorts. We had way too many of those last week, and then win our matchups better.”
Historically, NFL teams that begin the season 0-2 have little hope of making the playoffs. On Monday Night Football, the Bears must take advantage of a rookie quarterback making his second NFL start if they want to stay ahead of the playoff curve.