CARSON WENTZ does something amazing just about every day, but he isn't ready to quarterback the Eagles, and he probably isn't going to be ready when the season opens in September.
That isn't meant as a rip or as a "hot take." It's an assessment of where we stand, with the Eagles wrapping up pretraining-camp work Friday.
The more we are able to watch Wentz and Sam Bradford running Doug Pederson's offense, the more apparent it becomes that the Eagles didn't just blunder into employing both Bradford and Wentz, along with Chase Daniel, at the QB position for 2016. It really was a plan, and right now, it looks like a good one.
Bradford came back from his two-week hiatus sharp and committed. He seems much more consistent than Wentz. Daniel, who knows the offense best, from having worked in it for three years with the Chiefs, is never hesitant, and has a better arm than you might have expected, but Daniel is shorter and stockier than the other two. At 6-foot, 225, he lacks their leonine grace.
Offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, in separate media sessions last week, were asked what has surprised them so far about Wentz. Both paused to think for a bit. Their answers were that really, nothing has surprised them all that much, because the vetting process was so thorough, before the Birds spent the resources to trade up to second overall in the draft to grab Wentz. The Eagles knew what they were getting - they had a good feel for the potential, and for the rough edges.
"He's who we thought he was, in every aspect," Reich said.
Overall, "we're in good shape at that position, let's put it that way," Reich said.
Pederson was asked Wednesday about how in these sessions, Wentz seems to take the deep option much more often than the other two QBs. Is this just his personality, or is that the read he is most comfortable making right now, as he learns Pederson's scheme?
"Most of it's the reads," Pederson said. "There are a couple decisions that he's made that we've corrected, based on some of the throws he's made deep. You probably saw one yesterday: The interception (a balloon that came down in the arms of Chris Maragos) was not a great decision.
"But again, it's part of learning the system. But he has a natural ability to throw the ball down the field, and that's what you like. You love the aggression. You want to be able to push it down the field. And some of it is by play design and some of it is just by sheer mistake. But man, I love seeing the ball go over the top at times."
Wednesday, Wentz was high and wide a lot, but he also dodged a rusher and flung a bullet way down the right sideline to Nelson Agholor, who bobbled away the catch. And he hit Cayleb Jones in stride on a left-sideline bomb.
"I think there's a fine line," Wentz said. "I think there's a time to be aggressive. That's something I like to bring. I like to push the ball down the field when it's there. But there's also a time to just take the underneath one, and that also comes with learning . . . That's kind of those fine-detail things."
Wentz acknowledged he sometimes had these conversations with coaches at North Dakota State, about not forcing the downfield throws: "Again, part of it's my nature, but, yeah, I need to kind of walk that fine line."
Another issue is that Wentz, despite his excellent arm, sometimes tosses not-so-tight wobblers.
Pederson said he sees it as hesitation, a rookie QB focusing on all the stuff he suddenly has to process before throwing the ball, instead of the mechanics of throwing it.
"I would agree, there is a little bit of a wobble, but again, not a concern," Pederson said. "A lot of those situations, a lot of those throws from a young quarterback, come from learning your system. Meaning, you're a little late here, you're a little late there, you're trying to anticipate that throw, you're a little off here. And so you're processing all the information so fast, that the last thing that goes is the throw, the actual physical nature of the throw."
Wentz was asked the same question.
"I've had a little bit of that over my collegiate career, I guess," he said. "I don't know, sometimes it just doesn't come out clean, but that's something that I think, just more reps that I get, just being comfortable, just continuing to work on my mechanics and everything, that'll go away."
To a followup question, Wentz agreed that the look of the spiral isn't paramount.
"Timing and accuracy is really what matters, at the end of the day," he said. "As a quarterback, yeah, (the tight spiral) looks pretty sometimes, but that's not always the end-all and be-all."
Perhaps most crucial to the Eagles' planned structure, there is no sense that Wentz is defensive, or chafing at his status behind Bradford.
"I feel like I'm continually learning," Wentz said. "I feel like I'm comfortable with the offense and everything, but there's a lot still to learn, a lot of nuances and fine details with the offense, but I feel good with my progression, and I'm looking forward to continuing that."
Pitchers and catchers
Eagles quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends are scheduled to spend as much as a week in San Diego, working without their coaches, before training camp opens July 25 at NovaCare, players said.
"When I was in St. Louis, we used to get together with the wide receivers and the tight ends," Sam Bradford said. Earlier in the spring, Bradford hosted Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz in Oklahoma. "As good as it is to get on the field and throw routes and work out together, I think it's even better anytime you can spend time together away from the facility."
Carson Wentz said the aim is "just to develop a rapport - develop timing not only on the field, doing some route things, but be around the guys some more, hang out, spend time with them, get to know 'em on another level. So I'm looking forward to that."
Former Eagles personnel director Ed Marynowitz has returned to the University of Alabama, where he has been hired as an associate athletic director for football. Marynowitz directed Tide recruiting before joining the Eagles in 2012 . . . Wide receiver Josh Huff was excused from Wednesday's work after becoming ill, the Eagles said . . . Tough day for wide receiver Nelson Agholor, with at least a couple of drops . . . Cornerback Jalen Mills is a rookie who has looked smooth so far in Jim Schwartz's defense . . . Catch of the day was a one-hander deep down the middle by former Jet Chris Pantale, the pass coming from Chase Daniel. Pantale, 6-5, 254, seems to have the lead so far among tight ends bidding to be the situational fullback.