The Eagles defeat the New York Giants in the regular season finale, but it is an anticlimactic end to a tumultuous season. The Eagles had parted ways with Chip Kelly just a few days earlier. Sam Bradford is set to become a free agent. New pieces are going to be brought in. Change is imminent.
After missing 12 weeks due to a broken wrist, Carson Wentz returns as North Dakota State’s starting quarterback in the Bison’s National Championship Game versus Jacksonville State. Wentz throws for 197 yards and a touchdown, and adds two more touchdowns on the ground. For the fifth straight season, the Bison are National Champions. In a quarterback class that looks to be highlighted by Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch, where does Wentz, an FCS quarterback with a limited sample size as a starter, fall in line?
The Eagles introduce Pederson as the 23rd head coach in Philadelphia Eagles history. The very first question Pederson is asked at his press conference pertains to the quarterback position.
“Looking at the quarterback position here, I think Sam Bradford's a quality quarterback. I think he's a top-notch quarterback. Look what he did the last half of the season and the numbers that he was able to put up. I feel like he's a quarterback that would fit perfectly into a system that I'm going to bring. And so, you know, as we evaluate, as I evaluate that position, those decisions will be made as we go,” Pederson says.
Wentz proves that not only can he fit in with the other talented quarterback prospects surrounding him, but that he can stand out. Wentz earns the top practice player award among the quarterbacks. In his one quarter of game action, Wentz shows off his strong arm, good ball placement, and pocket mobility, all important characteristics for an NFL quarterback.
At the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Wentz shows scouts what they needed to see in throwing drills. He measures in at 6-5, 237 pounds, and his 4.77-second 40-yard dash time is tied for the second fastest of any quarterback in attendance. Wentz also impresses NFL teams with his confidence and football knowledge in private interview sessions.
The Eagles and Bradford agree to terms on a new two-year contract before the veteran quarterback can hit the free agent market. Bradford comes off a season in which he threw for 3,725 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Eagles were 7-7 in 2015 in the games Bradford started.
The Eagles execute a trade with the Miami Dolphins to move from the 13th-overall pick to the eighth-overall selection in the first round of the draft. Miami also receives linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell as part of the deal.
“One of our goals was trying to see if we could move up in the draft, and we found a way to do that by giving them value," Howie Roseman says. "It was something that came together over the period of a couple weeks and a bunch of phone calls, but we’re excited about getting the opportunity to pick eighth.”
In front of scouts and coaches from many NFL teams, Wentz wows during North Dakota State’s Pro Day in Fargo. “He’s every bit as athletic as Andrew Luck or Cam Newton, and I believe that 100 percent.” - Mike Mayock, NFL Network
The Eagles complete a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Browns, this time moving up from the No. 8 spot to the second-overall pick. Roseman confirms that finding a franchise quarterback is the goal.
In his first preseason game in front of Eagles fans at Lincoln Financial Field, Wentz is called upon slightly earlier than expected (remember this theme). The second-overall pick runs the Eagles’ two-minute offense at the end of the first half and plays most of the second half until he injures his ribs, which sidelines him for the rest of the preseason.
The Vikings are in desperate need of a starting quarterback after Teddy Bridgewater suffers a season-ending knee injury during practice. The Eagles step up and deal Bradford in exchange for a first-round pick in 2017 and a fourth-round choice in 2018. With Bradford in Minnesota, Pederson and the Eagles hand the keys of the franchise to Wentz.
"Everybody feels like this kid is ready to go and we drafted him to take on the reins and it's something now we are prepared to do," Pederson says.
“How does this change expectations for the season?” This is a popular question from reporters heading into the season opener against Cleveland. The resounding answer is quite simply, “It doesn’t.” On a picture-perfect afternoon for football in South Philadelphia, Wentz shows everyone why as he throws for 278 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-10 victory. Wentz earns NFL Rookie of the Week honors for his performance.
Wentz leads the Eagles to a 34-3 dismantling of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is Philadelphia's first undefeated September since the 2004 season. The rookie quarterback finishes the month with 769 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 103.8 passer rating. Wentz is the first player in franchise history to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month award.
Eagles-Cowboys. National prime-time TV. Wentz versus fellow rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. There are plenty of storylines leading into the Eagles’ Week 8 matchup on the road at Dallas. Wentz plays a mistake-free game, but Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the Cowboys get the best of the Eagles in overtime. The game is a first chapter in what could turn into a marquee rivalry for years to come.
The Eagles drop five games in a row. This represents the first real losing streak for Wentz, who was 20-3 as a starter at North Dakota State. The Eagles drop out of playoff contention, but two games remain on the schedule. Both are home games against divisional opponents. For Wentz and company, there’s plenty to prove.
The Eagles come away victorious in their final two games over division rivals New York and Dallas. Wentz concludes his season with franchise rookie records for pass completions (379), passing yards (3,782), completion percentage (62.4), and passing touchdowns (16) among others. His 379 pass completions also set the NFL rookie benchmark. His passing-yardage total is the fourth highest in both team and NFL rookie history. In addition to his NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month award, Wentz takes home NFL Rookie of the Week honors three times.