Philadelphia Eagles positional reviews: QB Carson Wentz is entrenched as starter with better support for Year 2

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Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is clearly the starter going into 2017 after starting all 16 regular season games in 2016. He is seen here playing against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017 in Philadelphia.

Philly.com has been looking at the Eagles’ 90-man roster since May 8, before they begin organized team activities on May 23. Here’s the schedule:

May 8: Wide receivers
May 9: Running backs
May 10: Offensive linemen
May 11: Tight ends
May 12: Defensive ends
May 15: Defensive tackles
May 16: Linebackers
May 17: Cornerbacks
May 18: Safeties
May 19: Quarterbacks

QUARTERBACK

Spotlight on: Carson Wentz

The Eagles spent the past three months trying to improve around Carson Wentz – there could be two new running backs and four new wide receivers on the 53-man roster – but the responsibility is on Wentz to improve, too. Wentz had an especially encouraging rookie campaign, although no one should make travel reservations to Canton yet. Entering his second season, Wentz must show more consistency. He spent time earlier this offseason refining his mechanics with a private quarterback coach in California. He is wired exactly how you’d want your franchise quarterback, which is part of why there is so much optimism in the organization about Wentz.

Time will tell if Wentz will eventually develop into an elite quarterback, but expectations are understandably enormous. Wentz checks off all the boxes a team could want in a quarterback, the organization made a significant investment to acquire him, and they’re building the roster to try to maximize his success. His season should be understood within in the context that it’s only Year 2 and the arrow is pointing up, but a sophomore slump would be an unsettling development.

For Wentz, the differences between Year 1 and Year 2 are striking. He is cemented as the starting quarterback, knows the system and his teammates, is settled in the area, and had a chance to catch his breath this offseason. One year ago, he was the third-string quarterback who came to an unknown city, coaching staff, and roster after a whirlwind draft process. Considering the way he played as a rookie without a full preseason (he missed three weeks because of broken ribs) and without first-team snaps, it’s reasonable to expect a full offseason and preseason as the starter will be advantageous.

Wentz completed 379 of 607 passes last season for 3,782, 16 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Starting all 16 games was also a notable accomplishment. After a pristine start to the year – his quarterback rating exceeded 100 in three of his first four games – Wentz looked more like a rookie at times in the final three months. He did not top a passer rating of 100 again all season, although he played better in his final four games than the middle eight. In the aggregate, there was far more good than bad. Improved wide receivers and protection will also be to his benefit, but they won’t be a panacea.

Wentz is the most important player in the franchise, and his development in Year 2 will determine whether the Eagles are closer to a playoff team or will spend another January without football.

On the 53-man roster: Nick Foles

The Eagles upgraded at No. 2 quarterback when they released Chase Daniel and brought in Nick Foles, who offers legitimate starting experience and an understanding of the offensive scheme. There was understandable debate during Foles’ previous stint with the Eagles about whether he would become a top-of-the-league quarterback, even after his sterling 2013 campaign. But what cannot be argued is that Foles is one of the best backups in the league. He has 36 career starts, has won 20 games he started, offers good size and arm strength, and will not need to take time to acclimate to the market or the system. He spent 2016 with the Kansas City Chiefs, who are led by former Eagles coach Andy Reid. Eagles coach Doug Pederson brought his offensive scheme from the Chiefs.

A backup quarterback has a good chance of playing. Before Wentz start all 16 games last season, the Eagles did not have a quarterback last the whole season since 2008. Wentz’s injury came in the preseason last year, but if he’s forced to miss time in 2017, the Eagles should feel comfortable with their backup option.

On the 53-man roster bubble: Matt McGloin

The Eagles added McGloin earlier this offseason as a No. 3 quarterback. The Penn State product started seven games in his four years with the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders won only one of those games, and he has 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his career. As a No. 3 quarterback, McGloin is a good player to have in camp this summer. But the question is whether the Eagles keep two or three quarterbacks on the roster come September. They went all of last year with two, giving them flexibility to carry another player elsewhere. If they keep three, it would be better if that third is a developmental player. That’s not McGloin. Maybe there’s an injury to Wentz or Foles this summer and the Eagles want insurance at the position. Perhaps another team loses a backup quarterback and wants to trade for McGloin for his experience. Or the Eagles could simply keep him or cut him. But McGloin’s future in Philadelphia will come down to roster math, and if they keep two quarterbacks, he’ll only be a summer arm.

Draft picks: None

The Eagles did not draft a quarterback. They signed Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans, although Evans was waived with a foot injury and reverted to injured reserve. Evans would have been an intriguing developmental prospect after passing for 3,546 yards and rushing for 846 yards in his lone season with the Hokies. The Eagles had other tryout quarterbacks at rookie camp, but they did not sign any. It’s likely they’ll bring in another quarterback this summer so they have four passers for training camp.

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