ANAHEIM, Calif. – In the months leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff trained and pushed each other, worked with the same agency, had the same dreams and aspirations to go to teams that would be a good fit. The right fit.
It's worked out for both players, as the quarterbacks lead their teams into an NFC showdown on Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Goff suffered through a dreadful rookie season with the Rams and has done a remarkable 180-degree turnaround for the 9-3 Rams. Wentz, of course, has started every game in the two seasons and is having an MVP-quality season with 29 touchdown passes and only six interceptions for the 10-2 Eagles.
Their meeting on Sunday is a terrific subplot, and the television coverage on gameday will no doubt center on the Goff-Wentz comparison. Heck, Los Angeles general manager Les Snead, in a scene from Amazon's All Or Nothing: A Season With The Los Angeles Rams, looked at the 2017 NFL schedule when it came out in the spring, saw the Eagles-Rams game and said, "The Goff vs. Wentz Bowl."
Even Wentz admitted that there is something unique and special about this one.
"He could throw the ball. He could throw the ball well. He had a lot of arm talent and he's a great dude. I thought we got along great," Wentz said of his pre-draft time with Goff. "We're good friends now so I think we're both pretty excited to finally face off. We've had a lot of crossover film this year so I've seen a handful of his games on tape and he's having a great year. We've texted back and forth a little bit so it will be fun for us."
No question is it special for both the Los Angeles Rams and for the Eagles that both quarterbacks are trending toward "franchise types." Wentz, who had 16 starts last season, appears to be more advanced in that direction and the Eagles certainly believe he is all of that and more. Goff, though, has had a fantastic second season under the direction of first-year head coach Sean McVay.
For the NFL, this game is a showcase of two of the young arms to lead the league for the next decade.
"I'm very happy for everything he's accomplished so far this year and through his career including last year," Goff said of Wentz during a conference call on Wednesday with Philadelphia media. "Everything he's got has all been earned and he's worked very hard to get to where he's at.
"I think it's a really fun storyline for you guys. For us, internally, we're focused on trying to win the game and trying to prepare ourselves the best we can to beat the Eagles. I look forward to seeing Carson out there."
Said Wentz: "I think it's exciting any time two young quarterbacks like us face off. Offense is playing their defense and vice versa, but I think it's definitely exciting for the league. Jared and I are both excited about it and it will be a fun one."
There wasn't a time, Wentz said on Wednesday during his press conference at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, that he had a sense of whether he would go first or second, or that he preferred the Rams over the Eagles.
In fact, as Wentz went through the long pre-draft months and the visits and the testing, he bonded with the Eagles' front office and coaching staff.
"You never knew throughout that draft process," Wentz said. "It was a crazy whirlwind. You're playing every scenario in your head, trying not to, but you naturally are. But at the end of the day, I wouldn't trade it for the world where I ended up.
"I just felt a great connection with this coaching staff, with the city, just kind of the blue-collar work ethic, everything about it. I just kind of fell in love with it and I think it ended up working out for both of us."
The Eagles couldn't be happier with the way Wentz handled every part of being the first-round pick last season, taking over the starting job eight days before the opener, making the necessary huge step up from Year 1 to Year 2.
The Future of the NFL is on center stage with Wentz on the visiting sideline against Goff and the home Rams. The two are friends off the field and Wentz has seen Goff play as he has studied the Rams' offense against defenses of common opponents.
The Eagles have to bounce back after Sunday's loss in Seattle. Goff stands in the way. The mutual admiration society takes a break when the game begins. The Eagles need a win.
"We're going to be ready to play and play well," Wentz said after his press conference ended. "We know what this game means. It's a playoff-type of game and it's going to be a lot of fun for all of us."