The Eagles coach who works most closely with Carson Wentz is Press Taylor, the quarterbacks coach who has been with the organization through Wentz’s entire time in Philadelphia and witnessed Wentz navigating the challenges of the past year.
The pressure has always been on Wentz since the Eagles traded to draft him with the No. 2 overall pick in 2016, to his MVP-caliber season in 2017, to recovering from the knee injury last season while Nick Foles remained on the depth chart. But that pressure will only intensify for Wentz now after signing a four-year, $128 million contract extension with the most guaranteed money in NFL history.
“I think he’ll handle that great,” Taylor said Monday. “Carson’s always had such a high standard for the way he plays. Really, within our room, I think all our guys have a very high standard that probably exceeds any outside expectations. So they’re going to continue to try to work to the standard that we set for them, and that they’ve set for themselves. So I don’t worry about any added responsibility, added pressure.”
Taylor thought it was too early to suggest that the way Wentz is playing this spring foreshadows a big year for the quarterback, although Taylor did not back off the optimism percolating within the NovaCare Complex about Wentz’s play.
He said the key for Wentz has been playing without the brace on the left knee and moving around without restrictions. He’s also seen the benefits in Wentz actually performing the drills instead assessing what others are doing on film.
“There’s definitely a certain freedom with him,” Taylor said. “Shedding the knee brace … I think that was kind of an annoyance throughout the year that he had to wear it. And it was obviously with good reason that he wore it. … But he’s got that bounce back.”
The benefit to Wentz’s full participation this spring is also the chance to work with the Eagles’ new additions. Last year, when the Eagles acquired players such as Mike Wallace and Dallas Goedert, Wentz had limited opportunities to throw to them during the spring and summer. He tried to maintain communication to learn the new players, but he only practiced with them in small doses.
This spring, the Wentz-to-DeSean Jackson connection has been apparent. Taylor repeated the value of the on-field reps with Wentz.
There could also be an improved Taylor this season. The 31-year-old joined the Eagles as a quality control coach under Chip Kelly in 2013 and stayed in Philadelphia when Doug Pederson came on board in 2016. Pederson elevated Taylor to quarterbacks coach last season, succeeding John DeFilippo, who was an established quarterbacks coach in the NFL and had even been an offensive coordinator. Taylor was in his first year on the job and needed to lead a room with Wentz, Nick Foles, and Nate Sudfeld – all returning players.
Taylor said communication is an area that will be more refined this season, whether it’s communicating with the quarterback during the week or on game day, because of “another year working together.”
And he stayed in Philadelphia even though his brother, Zac, became the head coach in Cincinnati after spending 2018 as the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach. The two have long had conversations about being on the same staff – “that’s a dream for us,” Taylor said – but Taylor revealed that there were never any requests made to allow him to head to his brother’s staff.
“I’m under contract with the Eagles,” Taylor said. “I really enjoy being here. I’m in a great situation. Obviously, working with a great player. A great quarterback room and a great franchise, from our front office down to our head coach, I’ve really enjoyed where we’re at and it was the right situation for my brother to take that opportunity. Very excited for him. There’s no bigger Bengals fan in this organization, I’ll tell you that. I’m excited he’s in the AFC as well so we can keep communicating throughout the year, until we get to the Super Bowl if that’s the case.”
Taylor is in a good position coaching Wentz and on Pederson’s staff. The Eagles’ quarterbacks coach position has often been a springboard to a bigger role. And Taylor said he’s not upset that there wasn’t anything done to make sure he could join his brother in Cincinnati.