PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Finding a franchise quarterback is a tough job that often defines the career of a personnel boss in the NFL.
In Philadelphia, general manager Howie Roseman is praised for landing Carson Wentz after trading up twice to secure the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Wentz led the Eagles to a division title in his second season and finished third in NFL MVP voting.
Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace tried the same strategy the following year, trading up to take Mitchell Trubisky. It seemed like a good pick when Trubisky led Chicago to 12 wins and a division championship his sophomore season.
But Trubisky and the Bears (3-5) are struggling this year and every football fan in Chicago is quick to point out that Pace passed on Patrick Mahomes (No. 10) and Deshaun Watson (No. 12) to select Trubisky.
Wentz easily outplayed Trubisky on Sunday in Philadelphia’s 22-14 win over the Bears. Trubisky finished just 10 of 21 for 125 yards. Chicago’s offense was so bad in the first half — five three-and-outs, 9 total yards — that some observers wondered why Bears coach Matt Nagy didn’t bench Trubisky for veteran Chase Daniel.
“We knew that we could collectively be better,” Nagy said when asked if he considered a quarterback changes. “Again, it was us as a unit overall. Whether it was the offensive line, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and the quarterback, in general we didn’t start fast. We need to start faster.”
Trubisky had no chance against the Eagles (5-4). His frustration was obvious.
“It’s not playing up to what we know we are capable of,” he said. “It’s making simple mistakes. It’s getting out-executed, getting outplayed when we know we are capable of much more, when we know we have more inside of us, when we know we are talented but we are still coming up short. There is a lot of really simple things that we did last year that we do in practice that on game day we are coming up short. And that’s why you have this crappy feeling, and that’s where the frustration comes. Losing sucks.”
Wentz gets his share of criticism in Philly, especially from those still hung up on Nick Foles leading the team to a Super Bowl victory after the 2017 season and a playoff win last season. Foles was 10-3 filling in when Wentz was injured over the past two seasons. He left for Jacksonville in free agency and Wentz got a contract extension that includes $108 million guaranteed.
“We have a lot of guys changing out and just keep building the chemistry but I can definitely play better and I think as an offense we’ll just keep getting better,” Wentz said after completing 26 of 39 for 239 yards and one TD.
Other quarterbacks drafted among the top five picks since 2016 are having varying degrees of success. Jared Goff, selected ahead of Wentz with the first overall pick by the Rams in 2016, is 31-19 since his rookie year. He’s a two-time Pro Bowl selection and already led Los Angeles to the Super Bowl.
Baker Mayfield, chosen No. 1 by Cleveland in 2018, has followed up an impressive rookie year with a dreadful season. The Browns are 2-6 and Mayfield has seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Sam Darnold, picked No. 3 by the Jets, is 5-13 in two seasons. His team lost Sunday to previously winless Miami.
Some of the quarterbacks who’ve fared well recently were undrafted or picked on Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft.
Kyle Allen, signed as an undrafted free agent by Carolina last year, is 5-1 with nine TDs and four interceptions filling in for Cam Newton.
Gardner Minshew, a sixth-round pick by Jacksonville this season, replaced Foles after he got injured Week 1 and is 4-4 with 13 TDs and four picks.
Brandon Allen, a sixth-round pick by the Rams in 2016 and claimed on waivers this season, won his NFL debut with Denver.
Mason Rudolph, a third-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2018, is 3-2 since Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending injury.
It’s far too early to make a determination on the careers of any of these young quarterbacks, but one thing is certain: There are no sure hits no matter draft position.
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