If you are reading this article, you know how well Carson Wentz played Sunday against the Browns in his NFL debut.The rookie QB exceeded all expectations, throwing for 278 yards, two touchdowns and had no turnovers.
He was able to handle blitz pressure, was on the same page as his receivers, threw the long and short ball and commanded the two minute drill. All in all, he looks like an NFL-ready quarterback.
But Week 2, on Monday night (under the ESPN lights)against Chicago will present a slew of new challenges for Wentz, and could see his level of play drop significantly. Here’s why:
1. He has a book
Prior to Sunday’s 29-10 win against Cleveland, there was virtually no film on Wentz for a defense to study. He ran fewer than 40 snaps in the preseason before getting a rib injury that sidelined him for the final three games and played his college ball at North Dakota State, a school in a conference without a major television contract. Simply put, the Browns defense didn’t know what to expect.
The Bears, under veteran coach John Fox, will do their homework. They will watch his tendencies, his technique, and go over what went well and what didn’t for the Browns defense. Can Wentz and the Eagles offense adjust? That will be the key Monday night. If the Eagles are predictable, the Bears defense could make things very difficult for Wentz.
2. No Zach Ertz
Watching Wentz’ performance Sunday it was clear that the tight end position was sort of his failsafe. If he couldn’t air it downfield, he usually found a safe throw to Zach Ertz or Brent Celek.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Ertz is listed as week-to-week with a strange and dangerous injury to his ribcage up around the shoulder. Many surmise he will be unable to play Monday night — taking away a big powerful weapon for Wentz. Third-stringer Trey Burton was out Week 1 and will be back in Week 2, and could fill the void as Celek moves over to the tight end 1 spot, but it will be a bit of a drop off and could impact Wentz’ success.
3. The Bears defense
The Browns will probably finish last in the NFL and get the first pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Tearing their defense apart, while impressive, is not much to phone home about. Wentz will face a better defense in Chicago Monday.
In their opening day loss to the Texans, Chicago posted some respectable numbers. They sacked Brock Osweilerfive times, allowed just 215 passing yards, and had both an interception and forced fumble. It’s an extremely small sample size — one game — and Chicago was lacking in both the sack and turnover department in 2015 so perhaps Wentz will rake once again. But it’s worth noting that there should be a considerable step up in quality from the Browns to Bears defensively this week.