Wentz poses challenge for Chicago Bears defense
Early returns indicate the Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz may be the next rookie quarterback capable of making an immediate impact in the NFL.
The Bears will find out Monday night at Soldier Field if Wentz is as good as he looked in his debut against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, when he posted a 101.0 passer rating.
In Philly's a 29-10 victory, Wentz completed 22 of 37 passes for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions.
"He's pretty (darn) impressive," said Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "It looks (like) 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 (heck) of a quarterback."
The Eagles sent five draft picks to the Browns to move up from No. 8 to No. 2 overall, and they got a fourth-round pick next year. In addition to the No. 8 pick, the Eagles also sent to the Browns the Nos. 77 and 100 picks this year, a first-round pick in 2017 and a second-rounder in 2018.
To get to the No. 8 spot, the Eagles first had to swap their original spot at No. 13 to the Miami Dolphins, along with cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso.
"The guy is very impressive," Fangio said of the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Wentz. "He has a big arm, he 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."
Dealing with two cracked ribs, Wentz threw just 24 passes in the preseason and missed significant practice time. But that didn't prevent him from getting off to a blazing start once the real games started.
On his first NFL series, Wentz led the Eagles on a 75-yards, nine-play TD drive, completing 4 of 5 passes for 57 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
"The way we came out right away, the way we went down and we put a drive together and scored, it was huge for my confidence," Wentz said. "It was huge for this offense's confidence and really just kind of set the tone for the season."
It doesn't seem that Wentz lacks confidence, although there were doubts that he'd be able to make the leap from North Dakota State, an FCS school, to the NFL as a rookie.
"Nothing's really been overwhelming," he said. "Obviously, the game's faster. The guys are bigger, faster, stronger; it's all part of it.
"I've developed, and I've grown to be comfortable with the speed; felt very confident with everything. It was a lot of fun (last week). It's a lot of fun playing with the best of the best, so it was a good time."
Wentz said his experience leading North Dakota State to back-to-back FCS championships the past two years (their fourth and fifth straight titles) helped his acclimation to the pro game.
"For some guys, learning a new system and the pro-style things can be a lot," he said. "But going back to my college days, we did a lot of the same stuff. I was calling protections and making run checks and making audibles, playing under center; so that stuff came pretty natural for me."
That's what it looked like to most Week 1 observers, including Bears coach John Fox.
"He made a couple of good throws on some play-action, and there was a pretty good go route," Fox said. "All in all, a pretty good first outing."
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