SCHWARTZ: Philadelphia Eagles have second chance with quarterback Carson Wentz
Flash back to January 2009.
Donovan McNabb and the Eagles rebounded from a 5-5-1 start to reach the NFC Championship game. With the Eagles trailing 24-19, an electrifying rookie named DeSean Jackson caught a 62-yard bomb to give the Eagles the lead.
The lead didn’t last, but that’s not the point.
A few months later, the Eagles drafted Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy.
The following season, the Eagles went 11-5 and lost to Dallas in the wild-card round.
The foursome of McNabb, McCoy, Jackson and Maclin didn’t last either.
Those ugly back-to-back losses to Dallas were the final games with the Eagles for McNabb, then 33.
Meanwhile, Jackson, Maclin and McCoy were just starting their careers. Michael Vick joined the trio and took the Eagles to the playoffs.
Nick Foles, sans Maclin (ACL), did the same.
And that was it.
The Seans were gone.
Looking back, you can’t help but wonder what if.
What if the McNabb in his prime had been paired with Jackson, Maclin and McCoy instead of Todd Pinkston, James Thrash, Charles Johnson and Torrance Small? Three straight conference title game losses led to the desperate addition of Terrell Owens, which yielded a trip to the Super Bowl and a trip to his driveway for some sit-ups.
Eagles won't make same mistake: The Eagles won’t make the same mistake with Carson Wentz.
This draft made that clear.
After going offense with his first three picks, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman offered a simple explanation:
“Have you met our head coach?" Roseman said. "What side of the ball is he on?”
Standing next to Roseman, Doug Pederson naturally smiled.
As he should have. Ear to ear. Like a kid on Christmas morning with a bunch of new toys.
Same with Wentz.
Providing weapons, fortifying armor: The Eagles not only have given the fourth-year QB more weapons but also fortified his armor.
Tackle Andre Dillard is Jason Peters’ successor.
Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard boost a ground attack that lacked a bell-cow back once Jay Ajayi went down but still has talent with Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside joins Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and promising youngsters Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson.
And oh yeah, that DeSean guy is back too.
“Listen, we have got an affinity for scoring points, there’s no question about it,” Roseman said. “The way we’ve built our team, we want to score a lot of points, and we want to make our teams one-dimensional and get after the quarterback. That’s how we build this.”
They’re hoping to build a lead, force opponents to abandon the run and let Jim Schwartz’s pass rushers go to work. Fittingly, the lone defensive player the Eagles drafted is defensive end Shareef Miller.
They’re hoping they’ve built a cache of weapons for Wentz.
Sure, Roseman prior to the draft gushed about all the defensive line talent to be had.
“I regretted it right after saying it,” Roseman said.
Sure, if picks had fallen differently, maybe the Eagles would have bolstered the D-line or added another safety.
But hours before the draft began they just so happened to bring back DT Tim Jernigan. And they had already brought back DE Vinny Curry and added DT Malik Jackson and safety Andrew Sendejo.
As Roseman said before the draft, the Eagles could have taken the field without having any picks.
They had only five.
That four were offensive players, Roseman admitted, “wasn’t a concerted thought process.” But when teams scooped up the defensive linemen, that left the Eagles with a great opportunity.
“What it did for us is, it pushed some guys down to us that maybe in a normal year on the offensive side of the ball, wouldn’t be able to get to our pick," he said. “We tried to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Need to keep Wentz healthy: They did so to keep Wentz healthy — no use picking up his fifth-year option and pursuing a long-term deal if they can’t do that.
They did so to put their franchise QB — their first they’ve drafted in the first round (and coincidentally also No. 2 overall) since McNabb — in the best position to flourish.
They did so because the final four teams in the playoffs last season — the Chiefs, Rams, Saints and Patriots (in that order) — were also the top four scoring teams in the league last season.
They did so because now they’re banking on this: Defense wins championships, but sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.