“Hey look, the Vice President of the United States just tweeted at Carson Wentz and called him ‘my guy’” was my casual thought Monday afternoon. No big deal. Just another stop as the Wentz Wagon rolls along.
“Heart, guts, and poise from my guy, @CJ_Wentz. Huge game, strong start for the @Eagles. @DrBiden is pumped. It's our year.” tweeted Joe Biden.
This has become routine now. In less than a month, Wentz has gone from a “redshirt” rookie with questionable college experience to the NFL’s newest young star America loves to love.
For those that have watched Wentz play quarterback at North Dakota State beginning in 2014 to now, anything the Bismarck native has done is met with “I can’t believe this is happening, but anything Wentz does really shouldn’t surprise me anymore.”
Everything involving Wentz has turned to gold. He’s the All-American American. The lovable redhead. The country boy at heart. The man of faith. The guy still with his high school sweetheart.
You’re more likely to find someone say “I actually think both presidential candidates are solid choices” than to find dirt on Wentz.
And on the football field, the dude is an absolute baller.
Wentz has hit stardom, not just in Philadelphia, but in the country, after three games and three wins for the Eagles.
He has thrown for five touchdowns and is the first rookie to have no interceptions in his first 100 pass attempts. He’s made the check down throws with patience. He’s made the deep throws with precision. And besides learning he’s not playing Youngstown State anymore, he’s shown his mobility in the pocket and is starting to avoid unnecessary contact down the field.
The more he does on the gridiron, the more people around the nation search to find out just who the hell Carson Wentz is.
“Hold on, this guy was 5-foot-8 as a freshman at a North Dakota high school, hit a growth spurt, was really only offered by an FCS school in his state, sat the bench for three years behind the all-time wins leader in the FCS and then won two national championships? I love this guy.”
“Hold on, this guy likes to celebrate football wins by going out into the country the next morning with his dog and shoot things? I love this guy.”
“Hold on, this guy’s girlfriend caught him watching game film during a dinner date? I love this guy.”
Some of the comparisons and compliments on the field are way immature, sure (cc: the guy who said Wentz is “Peyton Manning pre-snap, Aaron Rodgers post-snap.”).
But what Wentz has done so far is nothing short of amazing. Wentz played in one preseason game. He was held out of the remaining games and several practices because of a rib injury. He was thrown into the starting lineup the week of Philly’s first game and has thrived under the pressure of being the franchise player for a team with maybe the most passionate and unforgiving fan base in all of sports.
Not only that, all indications show he has taken command of the team, in the locker room, on the sideline and on the field, like a veteran starting quarterback does.
He has rejuvenated an Eagles roster expected to finish around .500 at best to a team not only eyeing the playoffs, but a lengthy run in the playoffs.
And there’s no shortage of confidence in saying that after Philadelphia rolled Pittsburgh, a popular Super Bowl pick, on Sunday.
“Being 10 years in, this kid is inspiring me," Eagles tight end Brent Celek said after the game. "He's adding youth to my game just by the way he's acting, being in the huddle, taking command, it's beyond impressive; it's great.”
As Celek went on to say, Wentz has elevated the play of everyone around him, just like he did at NDSU.
Will Wentz continue his rapid pace or hit a rookie slump? It’s tough to tell. Many thought it would come against Chicago on Monday Night Football in Week 2. It didn’t. Many thought it would come against the Pittsburgh defense. It didn’t.
He’ll have a down week eventually. Everyone does. But Wentz’s story so far shows this isn’t a fluke. He’s the real deal. And America is enjoying the ride so far.
Herder is a 2015 graduate of NDSU who covered the 2012-2014 FCS title seasons for the campus newspaper, The Spectrum. He will provide insight on the Bison’s quest for a sixth straight national championship.
Herd following The Herd won first place in the 2016 NDNA Better Newspaper Contest for sports column in its circulation category.