For all the questions surrounding Carson Wentz – and there were plenty entering Week 1 – the No. 2 overall pick provided a lot of answers in Philadelphia’s 29-10 win over Cleveland on Sunday. Wentz threw a touchdown on the first drive of his career – a 19-yard strike to Jordan Matthews – and finished 22-of-37 for 278 yards and two touchdowns.
It was only one game, yes, but Wentz showed poise, toughness and a knack for hitting small windows.
“It’s amazing in the NFL when a young quarterback plays well, everyone gets really excited,” former NFL quarterback and current analyst Sage Rosenfels said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I said coming out in the draft I thought Carson Wentz was going to be better than (Jared) Goff. I think he’s a really good player. (It’s) way too early to (project) long-term. When you’re drafting a quarterback, you’re thinking 10, 12 years. You’re really not thinking one game, so he has a long ways to go before we can decide how good he is.”
The quality of competition should also temper expectations – at least a tad. In fact, Rosenfels said playing Cleveland is “sort of like playing the fourth quarter of a preseason game.”
“You don’t get quite the credit as Jimmy Garoppolo is going to get for playing at Arizona,” he said. “But Carson Wentz played really well in that football game. He came out right away, right down the field and threw a touchdown pass. Nice, nice first game by Carson Wentz.”
Philadelphia (1-0) plays Chicago (0-1) at Solider Field on Monday Night Football on Sept. 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
The aforementioned Garoppolo, meanwhile, also fared well in his debut, leading the Patriots to a 23-21 road win over Arizona on Sunday night. He finished 24-of-33 for 264 yards and one touchdown and led a late 13-play scoring drive that helped New England prevail.
Indeed, the Pats didn’t miss a beat without Tom Brady
“He looked great,” Rosenfels said of Garoppolo. “I think he might have been the surprise of the week. Since his rookie year, when I first saw him play, (I thought), ‘This kid’s got it.’ They did a heck of a job when they were scouting quarterbacks a couple of years ago. To go at Arizona, one of the best teams in the NFL, a very good defense, a high-scoring offense, and (to) play that well, (it was impressive).”
The Patriots went 10-of-16 on third down, thanks in large part to Garoppolo, who went 8-of-10 for 107 yards and seven first downs in such situations.
“Quarterbacks are paid a lot of times to throw touchdown passes, but on third down, that’s sort of the money down for NFL quarterbacks,” Rosenfels said. “First and second down, you can manage the game, you can hand it off, you can check from a run to the right to a run to the left, a little three-step drop, a little bootleg. But on third down when a defense knows you have to throw and they can bring all the blitzes – the defensive ends know you’re going to have to throw the football and they can pin their ears back and rush – to be 10-of-16 on third down (was impressive).”
Garoppolo also showed good mobility in the pocket and showcased his running ability here and there.
“He buys time in the pocket, which is what Tom Brady’s always done a great job of,” Rosenfels said, “but on top of that, he makes plays out of the pocket as well and can actually run a bit more than Tom Brady. He’s pretty dang accurate. He did a phenomenal job in that football game, and I think he is going to be an NFL starter, whether it’s with the New England Patriots in the coming years or somewhere else around the league. He has the talent, the poise, all the things you’re looking for (in) an NFL starting quarterback.”
New England (1-0) hosts Miami (0-1) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.