It didn’t matter that Carson Wentz had been out of action for two weeks with a rib fracture.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ decision-makers had seen more than enough from the rookie quarterback to determine that he was ready to be the team’s starter in Sunday’s season-opener against the Cleveland Browns.
‘Great job of picking up the offense’
“Although he missed the last couple of weeks, he’s done such a great job picking up the offense, being able to get in and out of the huddle, because he’s such a sharp guy,” Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on Late Hits. “And then, obviously, the physical tools that you see from him that made him the second pick in the draft.”
Many on the outside might question Wentz’s readiness for the challenge, but, in Roseman’s view, they’re not considering that a.) The Eagles’ coaches have a much larger sample size of Wentz’s work in practice, and b.) They all have extensive quarterbacking experience.
Coaches with extensive QB backgrounds
“When you talk about (Head) Coach (Doug) Pederson, a former quarterback, and (offensive coordinator Frank) Reich, a former quarterback, and Flip (John DeFilippo), our quarterbacks coach, the same boat, they know what those guys are going through. They’ve been with him every day and they’ve seen every rep he’s taken, both physical and mental, and they look at it like he will be ready. And they’ve said that all along and now’s his opportunity.”
Of course, the opportunity would not have arrived if the Minnesota Vikings hadn’t been willing to give up first- and fourth-round draft picks for the Eagles’ previous starter, Sam Bradford. Roseman insisted it wasn’t an easy call to make the deal.
Trading Bradford ‘real hard decision’
“This was a real hard decision for our organization, mostly because of Sam,” Roseman said. “And he is a true professional, has a great personality, he’s a really good person, works really hard at his craft and he was having a phenomenal camp. Accuracy, anticipation, leadership. He deserves a lot of credit for grabbing young guys like (wide receiver) D G-B (Dorial Green-Beckham) when we brought him in and just spending the extra time working with him.
“And I think that’s why it was such a hard trigger to pull and that’s why, when the conversation started with the Vikings and Rick, it was, ‘This is going to be something that’s going to have to be a no-brainer decision for our organization going forward.'”
Panthers’ Davis: Key is how they execute vs. Broncos’ ‘new-look offense’
The Carolina Panthers’ defense had a good feel for what to expect from Peyton Manning. It had a pretty decent understanding of what to expect from Brock Osweiler as well.
The same can’t be said, however, for Trevor Siemian, the quarterback the Panthers’ D will face when they open the season against the defending Super Bowl-champion Denver Broncos Thursday night.
Have to understand ‘what they like to do as a team’
“Now, we have a new young guy in there that we have to do a good job as a defense of adjusting to what kind of offense they’re going to run based on him being in the game,” linebacker Thomas Davis told Brady Quinn and Kirk Morrison on the SiriusXM Blitz. “You look at Denver, they’ve incorporated a fullback into what they like to do. And for us defensively, we just have to understand the scheme and what they like to do as a team. And that’s really what it’s going to boil down to — how well we can execute against that new-look offense.”
As far as Davis is concerned, the most important part of what they do will happen between plays, series, and halves.
‘In-game adjustments going to be huge’
“The in-game adjustments are going to be huge,” he said. “For us, it’s taking advantage of seeing some of the things that they’ve done in the preseason, seeing some of the decisions that the quarterback has made based on the offensive formation. We’ve just got to recognize what they come out in, what Denver historically likes to do under (coach Gary) Kubiak.
“And we have to understand that a lot of the offense that they did run in the past was Peyton Manning’s offense, so we just have to really learn on the fly what they like to do. I think for us, as a defense, when we go out and line up and play the solid defense that we like to play, I think we’ll be just fine.”
Peterson wishes Cardinals were facing Brady
Patrick Peterson can’t hide his disappointment about the Arizona Cardinals’ season-opener against the New England Patriots.
The Cardinals’ star cornerback would have preferred facing the Patriots with Tom Brady at quarterback rather than Jimmy Garoppolo, who is beginning a four-game stretch as the starter while Brady serves his #Deflategate suspension.
Always want a team at their best
“You know with Tom Brady there, the legend that he is and being a Super Bowl champion and league MVP, you always want to get a team when they’re at their best,” Peterson told Brady Quinn and Kirk Morrison on the SiriusXM Blitz. “But, unfortunately, some discipline was handed out to Tom and you have to serve that four-game suspension. But definitely wish that he was under the gun, because there’s nothing like playing against a team when they have their full force because I guess the win was that much better.
“Any way you get the win was better, but when you get an opportunity to go up against one of the best there is, it’s that much better.”
Playing with ‘back towards the QB’
Speaking of the best, Peterson believes he is worthy of that label when it comes to NFL cornerbacks, even though he understands that others at his position would say the same about themselves.
Still, Peterson said he does things that other corners in the league don’t do, as far as having the ability to play with his “back towards the quarterback” and being able to follow the opponent’s No. 1 receiver regardless of where he lines up.
‘A real shutdown cornerback’
“Because most guys don’t understand how difficult that is,” Peterson said. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, you travel with the No. 1 receiver.’ But they don’t understand, when guys run on the left side, they run different routes from the right side. When they’re in the slot, they run different routes. When they motion, they run different routes.
“You’ve got to put all that into account to where you have to remember all of this stuff. You have to game plan against this stuff. To game plan against a receiver, you have to know the ins and outs … but I just believe if you’re able to do that, that’s considered a real shutdown cornerback. I feel that I’m the best, and that is why.”
Vikings’ owners to Rick Spielman: ‘Be as aggressive as you need to be’
Rick Spielman operated with complete confidence that he could do whatever was necessary to respond to the crisis the Minnesota Vikings faced less than two weeks before the start of the season.
That was because the Vikings’ general manager had the OK from team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf to “be as aggressive as you need to be” in replacing Teddy Bridgewater after the starting quarterback suffered a severe knee injury.
Rest of the league knew Vikings were desperate
As he explained to Ross Tucker and Mike Nolan on the Opening Drive, Spielman knew the rest of the NFL was ready to pounce on the Vikings’ desperation “after what happened to us on Tuesday and trying to figure out how do you move forward in such a short period of time.” The response would be a transaction unlike any other in which Spielman had been involved while working in player personnel in the league.
Trade circumstances were ‘very unique’
On Saturday, the Vikings pulled the trigger on a trade that sent first- and four-round draft picks to Philadelphia for the Eagles’ starting quarterback, Sam Bradford.
“And this is not like pulling off a trade or a deal where you have time in the offseason or during draft when you’re trading picks and things like that,” he said. “This is something that was very unique, because you’re asking a team to give up their starting quarterback, and I know that you’re going to have to pay a premium. And you’re asking them to do it not at the beginning of training camp, but eight days before we kick off the season.
“I know how difficult it was for (GM) Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles to do this and I know how difficult it was for us. But you try to do the best you can to put yourself in the best situation you can to give yourself the best chance to win. And if you sit there and you wait on the waiver wire and some of the other offers that were coming back to us were guys that weren’t established, yet they were asking for even more. Howie did a great job at his end. Hopefully, we did a great job at our end and it works out best for both teams.”
Covered every scenario with owners
Spielman covered “every scenario I could possibly think of” with the Wilfs. And after discussions with his staff and the coaches, all signs pointed to acquiring Bradford.
“… But talking with the Wilf family, they told me to be as aggressive as you need to be and what you think gives us the best chance to win this year,” Spielman said. “(Vikings head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman was the trainer in Philadelphia. He has a very close relationship with their doctors and their trainer, and once this was getting close, I asked Howie for permission to go ahead and look through all of Sam’s records and medical records, and this and that. And once the doctors and (Sugarman) blessed it, then we got him in and on a physical when he came in, he passed his physical and we had no concerns.”