The announcement that the Minnesota Vikings had traded for Sam Bradford prior to the season opener was viewed as a season-saving move from the Minnesota side of things. It came as a shock that the Vikings were able to land a starting quarterback eight days before the start of the season.
On the other side of the coin, the shock in Philadelphia was even more pronounced. Head coach Doug Pederson didn’t see it coming. Neither did rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
Pederson and Wentz spoke to the Twin Cities media Wednesday about their reactions to what has been one of the biggest stories of the 2016 season.
Pederson, in his first season as head coach following the firing of Chip Kelly, was planning to have his first season highlighted with Bradford under center and Wentz watching.
“I was excited really to have Sam to kick this season off for us,” Pederson said. “He came out of training camp playing extremely well. His last preseason game was that Indianapolis game. He played really, really well. It was exciting to see that. He’s such an accurate thrower and big, tall target, throws an accurate, catchable football. I was just really excited to see what he could do in this system, in this offense and was looking for some obviously big things from Sam in our system.”
For his part, Wentz was expecting to learn from Bradford and Chase Daniel. The initial intention was for Wentz to be the No. 3 QB on the inactive game-day roster to learn from the veterans.
Wentz was anticipating the equivalent of a redshirt season. His plan was to watch and learn from the sideline, not be front and center.
“It was pretty cool coming in with him and Chase to really just learn this offense, learn this system,” Wentz said. “Sam has been exposed to a number of different systems and offenses. He had a lot of good input with this offense and teaching points for me, so it was really good to work with him. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.”
Pederson admitted that Plan A was to have Wentz learn his system and be ready to compete for the starting job in 2017.
When the news came down, Pederson found out all his offseason plans were going into reset mode.
“My plan was for him to sit the whole year, you know?” Pederson said. “That’s why it was obviously difficult, going back to the trade, because I felt Sam was in a great spot with us offensively and was set to have a good season, and I wasn’t going to disrupt that if I didn’t have to, and that being either wins and losses or injury, and I was fully prepared to have Carson sit out the whole year.”:
When the wheels started turning, Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman got Pederson up to speed in a hurry and he needed to sign off on the plan, even though it was likely going down for better or worse.
It was the first crisis of Pederson’s young coaching career and was going to put his coaching acumen to the test.
Whether Wentz was ready for prime time or not, the curtain on the Carson show was going up whether he was fully prepared or not.
“Initially I was a little shocked that this was going to be a possibility because all along I said Sam was my guy and Chase was two and Carson was three,” Pederson said. “I had to make a decision with Howie Roseman and (Eagles owner) Jeffery Lurie. We had to make a decision on what’s the best for the Philadelphia Eagles, what’s the best for all the players involved. Teddy Bridgewater’s incident, it’s an unfortunate deal and hope he’s doing great. At the same time, this is a great opportunity for Sam. He’s going to a playoff team, a great football team, opportunity to start and play and do well. For us, it was just a matter of pulling the trigger with Carson and saying, ‘You’re our guy and we’ve got to get you coached up and ready to play.’ It was truly a win-win once the dust settled on everything.”
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The Eagles have moved on and Wentz is getting his feet wet as an NFL quarterback. With Wentz exceeding rookie expectations, there are high hopes that the trade will be a short-term and long-term benefit for both teams. Big investments were made on both sides and the hope is that they can both declare victory at some point and not be disputed.null