It happened so quickly, was so out of the blue, that Carson Wentz had no time to overthink the situation. He was in a field hunting when the call came from Eagles head coach Doug Pederson that the team had traded starter Sam Bradford to Minnesota. Wentz was then told that he was being promoted to the starting quarterback job for the season. The season was set to begin in eight days.
"It was," Wentz said, "a pretty surreal moment. It was time for me to go out and get ready to play some ball. That's what I love to do."
And thus a rookie season as a starting quarterback began. As Wentz embarks on Year 2 of his NFL career, it's worth a brief look back at the accomplishments of his rookie season when he started 16 games – the most for an Eagles rookie quarterback since Davey O'Brien started 11 games in 1939 – set a first-year NFL record with 379 completions, was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month in September, and established franchise rookie records in passing yards, touchdowns, and passer rating.
Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, was to, according to the initial blueprint, move along slowly in his development coming out of North Dakota State. Bradford would start, Chase Daniel would be the trusty backup, and Wentz would watch, absorb, and learn.
That plan went out the window exactly one year ago today when Howie Roseman pulled off the Bradford trade with Minnesota, which had just lost quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a season-ending knee injury. Suddenly, Wentz was thrown into the fray.
"I didn't have any time to do anything but prepare to be the starting quarterback," Wentz says. "I've been a starter before, obviously, so that was the mindset I had going in. The coaches and my teammates supported me fully to make sure I was ready to go. From that point, it was all about football."
Wentz said he was "fair" as a rookie, leading the Eagles to a 7-9 record, and as a player who is his own harshest critic, he knows there were, and still are, many areas in his game to improve. The benefit of starting all of last season is that Wentz comes into 2017 a young veteran who has seen so much in such a short period of time.
In his rookie year, he started on fire, leading the Eagles to a 3-0 record in September. Then a long struggle followed as the Eagles lost nine of their next 11 games, only to finish with wins over NFC East rivals New York and Dallas.
All in all, Wentz's up-and-down rookie campaign netted a very positive outlook for this season.
"He never wavered, and that is very important," head coach Doug Pederson said. "Carson was the same every day. He has a desire to be a great quarterback and he wants to work hard to be great. The talent is there, obviously.
"Riding with Carson in his rookie season was not the plan, but that's the way it worked out and I think we're better for it. I know we are. Carson is ready to take his game to the next level now and keep improving every day. He wouldn't have been in this position had he not started all of last year."