CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Get your popcorn ready.
Carson Wentz will get to start his NFL career against the team that decided in March that he was not worthy of using the No. 2 selection on.
Eagles head coach and former Browns quarterback Doug Pederson named Wentz Philadelphia’s starter on Monday.
“Everybody feels like this kid is ready to go,” Pederson said. “We drafted him to take on the reins. It’s something now that we’re prepared to do. He’s such a special guy. This stage not too big for him.”
Monday afternoon Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who said that he hadn’t heard the news Wentz would start until he was asked about it, declined to get into the team’s reasoning for trading out of the No. 2 spot and relinquishing the opportunity to draft Wentz.
“We went another direction,” Jackson simply said.
The Browns scouted Wentz heavily leading up to the draft before trading out and sending the second overall pick as well as a 2017 fourth round selection to the Eagles in exchange for Philadelphia’s 2016 first-(8th overall), third- (77th overall) and fourth-round pick (100th overall) as well as their 2017 first- and 2018 second-round picks.
Cleveland used the 2016 selections received from Philadelphia in 3 separate trades to add additional draft picks that helped them select the largest class in the modern era and wind up with 13 of 14 picks on the roster.
“It was right for this football team,” Pederson said of the blockbuster trade. “It’s something that we believe in. I believe in. This is why we drafted (Wentz). Would an ideal situation be later than sooner? Sure. But right now, where we are, we’ve got a good football team around him. All the pieces are here for him to be successful and us to win some games.”
The Eagles traded Sam Bradford Saturday morning to Minnesota and received the Vikings’ 2017 first round pick and a 2018 conditional fourth-round pick in return thrusting Wentz into the starting lineup.
Wentz sustained a hairline fracture in his ribs in the Eagles preseason opener but is healthy now according to Pederson. He completed 12 of 24 passes for 89 yards and an interception before leaving that game.
As for preparing to face the rookie from North Dakota State, Jackson didn’t seem all that concerned.
“I’m sure me and Ray [Horton] will discuss what we need to do, but at the same time, I’m more worried about our football team,” Jackson said. “I’m not so much worried about Philadelphia. They have a good team. They have a good defense. I know that for sure. They have good players on offense, and Carson is a very talented young man, but at the same time, it is not going to be about them.
“It is going to be about us. It is about our focus and our preparation and how we go through our process during the week to get ready to play.”
The Browns have only won once in Week 1 since 1999 – a 20-3 win over the Ravens in 2004 – and they’ve lost 11 straight openers since. Jackson will try to become the first Browns head coach to win his first game since Bud Carson blew out the Steelers 51-0 on in 1989 – a span of 9 coaches.
To break both dubious streaks, Jackson will have to beat the kid that he thought wasn’t good enough for a franchise now on it’s 25th different starter in 18 seasons.
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