ASHBURN, Va. – Carson Wentz is no stranger to the Washington-Philadelphia NFC East rivalry.
Changing sides has left the Commanders quarterback with perspective.
“My career has been a whirlwind,” Wentz said Wednesday at the Commanders’ practice facility. “I’ll tell you that much.”
Wentz, 29, is a veteran quarterback on his third team in three seasons. The Eagles, the team that drafted Wentz No. 2 overall in 2016, shipped him to the Indianapolis Colts in favor of Jalen Hurts following the 2020 season. The Colts moved on from him after one season. For the first time, Wentz is playing one of his former teams. There will be mixed emotions, Wentz said.
NFL NEWSLETTER:Sign up now for exclusive content sent to your inbox
NFL WEEK 3 WHAT TO WATCH:Bills-Dolphins battle to remain undefeated; Aaron Rodgers vs Tom Brady
“I definitely cherish my time up there,” Wentz said. “It was a wild ride in many ways. I grew a lot as a man. Got married. Had a child. lot of things So I’m very grateful for my time there.
“But it does catch you off guard. Things change. You got to learn to grow up, change, adapt. At the end of the day, I’m thankful for it, I’m thankful for the changes life has brought.”
In his second season with the Eagles, Wentz received MVP votes and Philadelphia was 11-3 when he suffered a torn ACL that ended his season.
“He was solid,” said Washington head coach Ron Rivera. “He’s done some very good things and he’s a very capable football player. We’re very fortunate to have him.”
Philadelphia won the Super Bowl less than three months after his injury. Wentz regained his starting job, but had inconsistent seasons.
“It was a lot of fun. Obviously, we had a lot of success there,” Wentz said. “Winning the Super Bowl was pretty special, being a part of that was pretty cool. It’s quite the city, quite the fan base, quite the experience, one I’ll definitely cherish my time there. But obviously being on the other end now, it’ll be pretty different.”
The path led Wentz to the Commanders. Through two games, he’s thrown seven touchdowns between a loss to the Detroit Lions and a Week 1 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wentz leads the NFC touchdowns and passing yards (650 yards).
His teammates don’t expect anything different in Week 3 simply because of the opponent.
“Carson approaches games the same,” wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “I really like how he comes up to the receivers and you start talking through the game plan and how we want to attack the defense. He does a really good job of talking to each receiver about certain plays they might have each week and talking through the catch point, the release and what he’s thinking.”
Under coach Nick Sirianni, who was hired in 2021, the Eagles enter as one of the most impressive teams through two weeks, especially on offense. The Eagles lead the league with 470.5 yards per game.
Hurts leads the league in total offense (709 yards) and has three rushing touchdowns. The dual-threat approach makes defensive coordinators reach for the Advil.
But Sirianni will scour the institutional knowledge in the building to gain an advantage over Wentz.
“You don’t ever leave a stone unturned,” Sirianni said. “Are you going to ask the people in the building that are familiar with Carson about him? Yeah, I’m looking for information.”
Wentz won’t overthink that aspect – even after video of Seattle Seahawks wide receivers abetted the defense about Russell Wilson’s hand signals at the line of scrimmage during a Week 1 victory over the Denver Broncos.
“Sometimes in the heat of battle people think, ‘Oh, I got him. I know their signals,'” Wentz said. “But there’s a lot going on out there for both sides of the ball. I, personally, and I know a lot of guys don’t put a lot of stock into those things until you need to.”
In Washington, Wentz has gelled with a receiving unit that includes McLaurin and Jahan Dotson (seven catches, 99 yards, three touchdowns). Curtis Samuel (15 receptions, 133 yards, two touchdowns) is healthy after a groin injury limited him to five games last season. The options have given Wentz the opportunity to push the ball down the field, and he’s averaging 7.5 yards per pass attempt.
“We know that (Wentz) can get hot, and be really on,” Sirianni said. “We know he’s powerful with the ball in his hands and he can make a play at any time.”
That’s why Washington brought in Wentz, Rivera said. In a league with a quarterback market more competitive than ever, it was a top priority this offseason
“The analytics that we had on Carson and studying it, I think really spoke to why he’s had the success that he’s had,” Rivera said. “You look at those numbers, he’s playing to those numbers.”
“That tells you who he is and why he’s important to us.”
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.