Carson Wentz has had a stellar start to his career, but how do his first two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles compare to all-time great quarterbacks?
Throughout Carson Wentz’s first two years as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, he has exceeded many expectations, and those expectations were lofty being the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. While a season-ending knee injury ruined his chances of being named NFL MVP, it didn’t stop Eagles fans from thinking about all the possibilities to come with Wentz leading the way.
As far as Wentz’s legacy goes there is still much to be decided, but his first two years helped put him in a group of current and future Hall of Famers.
In the first 29 games of Wentz’s career, he has thrown for a total 7,078 yards, with 49 touchdowns and only 21 interceptions. In that time period, he has led the Eagles to an 18-11 record and was able to lock down an NFC East title before that dreaded injury to his knee.
With a Pro Bowl selection and those stats, just where does Wentz fit into the pantheon of all-time great quarterbacks during their first two years as starters?
Let’s begin with Joe Montana, the Hall of Fame quarterback with the 49ers and Chiefs. Montana was drafted 82nd overall by the 49ers in 1979. He didn’t become the full-time starter until halfway through his second season, getting a full year to sit on the sidelines and learn the intricacies of the position — something Wentz didn’t have.
Through Montana’s first two seasons as a starter, he threw for 5,360 yards with 34 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. In those two season,s he led the 49ers to an 18-8 record (regular season and playoffs), including leading them all the way to a Super Bowl victory in 1981. With a Pro Bowl nod in 1981 as well, there aren’t many better starts to a career.
Another Super Bowl winning quarterback we can compare Wentz to is John Elway. Elway was drafted first overall in 1983 by the Broncos and spent his entire 16-year career in Denver. Unlike Montana, Elway was thrust into the spotlight his rookie season as he started 10 games. He followed that up with 14 starts in his second season.
In those first two seasons, Elway threw for 4,261 yards, with 25 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. Even with a poor TD-INT ratio, Elway was still able to guide Denver to a 16-9 record in his starts, along with two playoff appearances.
Also drafted in that stellar 1983 draft was first-round pick (27th overall) Dan Marino. He was drafted by the Dolphins and, like Elway, spent his entire career with the same team. Marino was a superstar from the very beginning. He started nine games in his rookie season and all 16 games the next year.
During that time span, he threw for 7,294 yards with an impressive 68 touchdowns and only 23 interceptions. He led the Dolphins to a 23-6 record that included a Super Bowl appearance in his second year. His 1984 season was so good that he was named NFL MVP as he threw for a then NFL record of 48 touchdown passes. It took 20 years for that record to be eclipsed. The difference for Marino compared to Montana and Elway was that he was never able to get over the hump and lead his team to Super Bowl glory.
The man who eclipsed Dan Marino’s record of 48 touchdown passes in a season is the next quarterback on our list: Peyton Manning. Manning was the first-overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft and spent 13 seasons with the Colts and four with the Broncos. Manning, like Wentz, was named the starter for the first game of his rookie season, but unlike Wentz, he played all 16 games of both his first and second seasons.
In those two seasons, he threw for 7,874 yards with 52 touchdowns and 43 interceptions. In that time period, he compiled a 16-17 record, which doesn’t stack up to Wentz’s stats, but he was able to finish 13-3 in his second regular season and led the Colts to a playoff berth. Also, in that second season he earned his first of 14 Pro Bowl selections.
Finally, we have Tom Brady, known by many as The GOAT. It’s been well documented that Brady was chosen in the sixth round (199th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He was forced into action during the second game of his second season when starter Drew Bledsoe had to leave the game with an injury. Brady never looked back.
He was able to lead the Patriots to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory that season. Overall, for his first two seasons as a starter he totaled 6,607 yards, with 46 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. He had a 23-10 record during that span, including his first Pro Bowl selection in his second season. And we all know what happened after that: four more Super Bowls, three MVPs and eternal glory.
Looking at the numbers and achievements of Carson Wentz compared to some of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, it’s hard not to think about the similarities. Wentz does already have a Super Bowl ring on his finger, but he wasn’t the quarterback who played in the Super Bowl to obtain that ring.
Can Wentz follow the footsteps of Montana, Elway, Manning and Brady and lead his team to a Super Bowl? Or does he spend his whole career chasing that dream like Marino, only to come up short? All we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.